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The Hospitals of Nairn

For a town of only around 3,000 inhabitants, Nairn showed considerable confidence and ability in establishing, in 1847, Highland’s second hospital.  Unlike many Highland hospitals it was not endowed by a wealthy individual but was set up, and prospered, through money raised in the community and by Nairnites abroad.  Military men in Bengal were particularly prominent in funding the early hospital. 

In 1861, the four Nairn parishes combined with others to open Nairn Combination Poorhouse, later renamed Balblair Home.  For many years it had sick wards and, after 1948, became a local authority residential home, eventually closing in the 1970s.

In 1906 Alex Mann, a Nairnite working in Ecuador, funded the new Nairn Town and County hospital. Nairn Burgh and County used the old building as a fever hospital.  Nairn, like other small local authorities, struggled to finance its fever hospital and, for 30 years, it struggled on until it closed in 1937.

The Northern Counties Convalescent Home at Tradespark, established in 1882, operated almost continuously as a voluntary association until the 21st century – a remarkable achievement.  Although the NHS did not take it over, it referred a continuous supply of patients for whom it paid, and this kept the Home economically viable.  It closed in 2004, ultimately a victim of its small size and related disproportionate running costs.

The Hospitals of Nairn booklet was published in May 2012.  The story of its hospitals, the local poorhouse and convalescent home is a fascinating insight into the changing social conditions in this small town.

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