150 years of memories unveiled at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

The display, called ‘Narratives’, is being officially opened by Right Honourable George Grubb, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, and Dr Charles Winstanley, Chairman, NHS Lothian.

It has been installed to coincide with the year-long celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the NHS, which began on July 5 last year.

By showcasing a mixture of historic bronze plaques and newly commissioned pictorial plates, the exhibition aims to represent the stories of patients, staff and visitors who have been involved with the Royal Infirmary over the years.

Over 40 historic bronze plaques, dating back to 1860, record the donations made to the hospital in the years before the NHS came into existence.

The donations went towards providing free or more affordable treatment to patients and ranged from donated by individual donors, to sums of money donated by businesses, such as ScotMid and the Cinema Trade.

One plaque records how the coal and shale miners paid £408,330 from their wages between 1918 and 1948, towards the use of beds at the Royal Infirmary.

Irene Young, Chair of the Staff Steering Group, NHS Lothian, said:


“Not only are the historic plaques beautiful to look at, but they are an important historical record for the hospital and the people of Edinburgh.


 “They hint at the personal stories of people treated at the hospital from the 1860s up to the present day, as well as telling tales of hard work and dedication, of tragedy and loss, recovery and new life.”
 New pictorial plaques have also been created from stories gathered from both current and retired staff. The narratives were gathered by professional storyteller Marie Louise Cochrane and the plaques were created by internationally acclaimed artist Marian Fountain.
Memories from the present day right back to the 1940s were recorded, about working lives, changes in healthcare, lives saved and relationships between staff over the years.


Dr Charles Winstanley, Chairman, NHS Lothian, said:
“This exhibition is a wonderful way to celebrate the history of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
 “Our staff have many fond memories of the hospital over the years and it is excellent to be able to remember them in this way.”