Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Many surprises from the Glasgow Eye Infirmary

A few years ago I decided to try to find the site of the original Glasgow Eye Infirmary.

As a tiny, I’d spent more time in there than I would have wanted to, and all to no avail.

I was small enough then to be more worried about having my eye popped out and left dangling down the front of my face than anything that might actually have happened to me. As it was, the worst was just having drops to dilate my pupils.

It was a slightly strange and surreal place to visit, with most kept in semi-darkness, to make sure those dilated pupils stayed dilated as you moved between consulting rooms, which were usually even darker.

After repeated tests, sessions of “Read this”, look at that, and people staring in my eye (only one was an issue) the end result, after months/years, was… nothing. Well, nothing apart from being sent for glasses (and they never did pop my eye out).

When I had a quick look online for its address (some years ago), I was informed that it had closed. There was also some confusion – the address attended was Berkley Street (which runs behind the building) and not Sandyford Place, where the main/front entrance lies. Assuming I was right about that, I’m guessing this was an outpatient entrance, intended to avoid the main entrance. (See more info below, about a fire in 1971, found later).

The buildings began as a domestic terrace (built 1842-1856), and the infirmary began buying the houses there in 1928, establishing an outpatients department and nurses’ home.

This information comes from a number of sources:

The infirmary was founded in 1824. In 1874 it moved into purpose built accommodation in the West End of Glasgow at Berkeley St which, by the late 1880s, had over 100 beds. The infirmary continued to run an outpatients department in the East End. In 1945 the Spencer Research Committee was formed with capital of over £12,000, to oversee research within the infirmary. In 1971 the entire in-patient accommodation at Berkeley St was destroyed by fire, Notably, an outpatients department continued there. From 1948 to 1974 the Glasgow Eye Infirmary fell under the Board of Management for Glasgow Western (later Western and Gartnavel) hospitals. In 1974 it was placed in the Western District of the Greater Glasgow Health Board, and in 1993 it became the responsibility of the West Glasgow University NHS Trust. In 1998 the functions of the Glasgow Eye Infirmary were re-located to Gartnavel General Hospital.

Looks like I eventually found the reason for the apparent address confusion, and why it only exists at Sandyford Place now.

The info I was given a some years ago turned out to be poor, and suggestions that it was closed and demolished were even further out.


I discovered the place a few days ago, completely by accident, while waiting for the lights to change at the junction of North Claremont Street and Sauchiehall Street. Glancing over to my left (where Sandyford Place begins and runs parallel to Sauchiehall Street) I saw what looked like (and of course was) the porch over the entrance to the infirmary.

Not only that, when I made my way over for a closer look there was no mistake. The building I had been given to understand was gone was not only still standing, but still had its name picked out in a huge mosaic panel mounted at the top of its facade.

Click for bigger.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic

While this was evening (getting dark), and the camera I had was not intended for detail, you can still see this closer view shows it is a mosaic, and is also, unfortunately, decaying.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic Detail

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Mosaic Detail

The building facade.

Click for bigger.

Sandyford Place Glasgow Eye Infirmary Building Facade

Sandyford Place Glasgow Eye Infirmary Building Facade

I’m reasonably sure that the entrance porch originally had ‘GLASGOW EYE INFIRMARY’ along its edge, but can’t verify that.

I thought it still had this lettering, but when I got closer was disappointed to see that this was nothing more the edge of the porch covering, which had been folded over to finish it off.

One side view, spoilt by a car I couldn’t wait until it left.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Left

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Left

Better luck on the other, blotted out by a car and van when I arrived, both left at the same time, leaving the view clear.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Right

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Right

I can’t be sure, but on the other hand, doubt if anyone is making a light fitting like this today, but the single light on the underside of the porch looks very much as if it has survived since it was installed when the porch was installed.

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Light

Glasgow Eye Infirmary Porch Light

Fun fact

One amusing discovery I made while looking for historic detail on this building past was that the online directories which have no human intervention or checking still list this address as ‘Glasgow Eye Infirmary’ and give its opening hours.

Good luck to anyone who trusts these useless directories, which I generally see as little more than scams to collect money for equally useless click-based or similar revenue harvesters

This is now what was referred to as a VD Clinic, an STD Clinic, but now goes under the heading of a Sexual Health Centre.


So, I had to be a tad careful when taking pics of the entrance, as people were coming and going, and I didn’t relish the idea of being thought to be photographing someone who didn’t want to be seen pictured in the doorway of such a place.

As it was, the most amusing thing was the traffic consisted mainly of people who looked just like the sort you’d expect to be seen at such a place, and not the plain, ordinary, boring people.

04/12/2018 - Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for this. Eye enjoyed reading this.


    Comment by Darrel Gorman | 21/05/2019

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