Forres Community Council wants to explore options to secure a sustainable future for the former Leanchoil Hospital.
Officially opened in April of 1892, Leanchoil Hospital has served the communities of the area for over 125 years. It is currently in the ownership of NHS Grampian but its use has steadily declined in recent years as hospital services have been transferred to Elgin, Aberdeen, and Inverness. The accommodation is now surplus to requirements and lies empty.
Forres Community Council [FCC] is keen to explore options that could secure a future for this important place and, to that end, has consulted the local community and had preliminary discussions with NHS Grampian about a possible Community Asset Transfer. By April 2019 FCC had secured sufficient funding to appoint a consultant team, led by LDN Architects, to carry out a condition survey, an options appraisal and a financial appraisal for proposed new uses for the site.
Before the cottage hospital was built on the outskirts of Forres, the only available inpatient accommodation in the town was in a small building on Burnside. A public meeting held in 1888 first mooted the possibility of building a cottage hospital in Forres and in the following year architect John Rhind was asked to provide plans.
The site chosen for the hospital was to the south-east of Forres, on Chapelton Muir, and extended to 9 ½ acres. It was described as ‘most picturesque and secluded, the trees in rear of the building sheltering them from East winds and forming an excellent background to a noble pile of buildings.’
The original hospital has been extended on several occasions, most significantly by the 1939 maternity wing, however the integrity and charm of the original design is still apparent and in 1993 the main hospital block was listed under category B by Historic Environment Scotland.
In addition to the main hospital block with its east and west wings, there are various separate buildings including the nurses’ residence, boiler house and mortuary, gate lodge and bungalow. The gate lodge and adjacent water fountain are category B listed alongside the main hospital block.