Bangour Village Hospital

Not far from where I live there is a hamlet called Bangour and next to it is Bangour Village Hospital. The place can be glimpsed briefly though a break in the trees as you whizz along the motorway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and there a couple of signposts although with no indicators as to what the place is. It is as the name suggests, a hospital. Or rather it was.

Founded in 1906, Bangour was a mental asylum but rather than being one big building, was split into smaller units over a large area – one of the first campus/village layouts. There were around 20 different buildings each with different purposes – wards, staff quarters, recreation, a shop and even a chapel. Out in the middle of nowhere (at the time), I can imagine this would have been a calming place to be if you needed to escape from the world.

It served as a military hospital during both World Wars and then in 1980s became the main maternity hospital for West Lothian – there are people that I know who were actually born here. But then in early 1990s the hospital closed, its facilities moved to more modern, central locations. The buildings were boarded up and Bangour was left to rot and slowly be reclaimed by nature.

Today Bangour is still owned by the National Health Service but is unused (other than a couple of the buildings which are occasionally used by the police for breach training). It is however open to the public, anyone can just go in and wander round and explore the several acres of land, the abandoned buildings watching over you silently. Bangour is course a popular location for dog walkers and at night I’m sure the security people have plenty of fun chasing away teenagers judging by the number of broken in windows and graffiti.

There is something quite magical about the place though, everything is so quiet and still. Some of the buildings are quite beautiful and can easily be imagined as being haunted. There are so many paths and winding lanes that you could never hope to fully explore the place. In places nature is taking over – the bowling green is now a uneven field of foxgloves, walking amongst an area of forest, my wife and I found a lamp post sticking out from the mossy ground as if we’d arrived in Narnia. It turned out we were walking on what had once been a road but was now so thickly covered with grass, moss and shrubs as to be unrecognisable.

On our last visit, outside an old admin building, where bright yellow weeds were pushing themselves up from between the concrete I spotted a butterfly fluttering around and pointed it out to my wife. And then another, and another. No four, five – seven! There’s seven of them! No, there’s more, 10, 12… we quickly lost count as we released we were surrounded by so many of them. They were all the same breed, possibly a Red Admiral but never in my life I have been surrounded by so many butterflies in the wild. It was quite something else.

Now of course, if you’re a writer then you’re probably already thinking the same thing as me… this is a setting for a story. And it really is – there is so much inspiration to find here and so many questions. What was it like to work or be a patient here? What happens here in night? What is it like inside those boarded up buildings? It’s still early days but I do have a vague idea for a story set here (or somewhere inspired by it) with three threads – one set in the present on the eve of the place being bulldozed to make way for luxury flats, one in the 50s following a junior doctor and a third set during WW1 with a Tommy recovering from shellshock. Of course these three men would all be linked somehow – perhaps trying to solve some kind of mystery. Who knows but this little, lost wonderland deserves a good story.

Below are a series of photos I’ve taken of Bangour on two – one was recently during the summer (the day of the butterflies) and others are from during the winter, just before last Christmas (it was a dark, foggy morning – I HAD to go there).

Published in: on August 21, 2011 at 8:38 PM  Comments (20)  
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20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh, the envy that you live near such a place! The pictures are gorgeous.

    • Cheers Delia – I am aware of how lucky I am. The land is now actually up for sale so might be around for much longer which is a shame.

    • Nyself and my fiancĂ© life right next to here. Its amazing to look at, but creepy too!

  2. Wowza. The atmospherics on the foggy pics are just amazing. It’s like something out of a medieval ghost story. Very inspirational. Thanks for sharing!

    • Super creepy isn’t it? The day of those foggy morning was pretty early and was definitely the only one there. I kept hearing footsteps from somewhere nearby though. Whenever I stopped walking, so did they… took me awhile to figure out it was an echo!

  3. Those are simply such sweet pictures, especially the foggier ones. I can feel the urge to play there.

    • Yeah it totally feels like a massive playground for adults!

  4. Oh my, I would LOVE to go there!

    • It’s a very special place – a combination of spooky and peaceful!

  5. live less than 5 mins from there and one of my sisters was born there

    • Yeah I know a few people who were delivered there during its span as the St Johns Maternity Ward. It’s crazy to think as you wander round that place that not that long ago it was an active hospital!

  6. Hi can anyone access the grounds of the hospital?

    • Yes – the grounds are open to the public. All of the buildings are boarded up though, and security staff patrol the site. There’s room for parking just off the A89 and you just walk in from there.

    • I run a facebook site dedicated to the hospital…I also arrange tours of the hospital,,,including entry into the Church

  7. Had a bit of an experience there yesterday…. I was taking pics while walking my dogs and ended up on the bowling green with a picture on my phone that I never took – very hasty exit!

    • That is PROPER creepy. And also an amazing start for a story idea!

  8. It was a pysiciatric hospital until 2000, the maternity ward was up the road and got demolished in 1990.

  9. It may be creepy but has anyone ever seen anything its all in the mind

  10. Just to say that the villiage hospital did not house the maternity unit….. that was part of bangour general which was situated n/w of where these photos were taken… very cool site though, love it there!

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