The Story of a Community
Dingleton Hospital, Melrose

This book is dedicated to staff who, over the past 130 years, have contributed to the care of people with mental illness in the Scottish Borders; and also to those entrusted with future psychiatric services following Dingleton's closure.

Illustration: Dingleton Hospital, Melrose
Dingleton Hospital, Melrose illustrated by J.Kerr [Enlarge]


I have had the pleasant task of chairing the Dingleton Hospital Archive Group from its inception over two years ago. As a result of our deliberations a decision was made to publish the history of Dingleton.

The story of this community has its origin in an establishment for the insane at Musselburgh. In 1872 patients were transported by railway from that bleak place and marched up the hill from Melrose station to the newly built asylum on Bowden Moor.

Various authors have recorded the often difficult and sometimes controversial intervening years very much in their own style and I would like to think that these diverse accounts prove complementary. I hope that any omissions will be regarded with some sympathy.

Photo: Dingleton Hospital 19th century
Post Card View of Dingleton 19th century [Enlarge]

I am indebted to Veronica Ross who was responsible for preparing all print ready material; to Agnes Waldie who spent many hours taping interviews for the living histories; to Stephen Jones for his work on editing the book and helping to make it cohesive; to Angus McKay for historical proof reading; to Chris Masterton for taking photographs; to Ian Pullen and Loretta Timperley for their help and support throughout the writing of this book; and to Doreen Smith, Meriel Smith, Peter and Dorcas Symms for their help with proof reading. Special thanks go to our long suffering secretarial team of Joyce McKenzie, Jessie Harrington, Sarah Manson, Pauline Burns, Frances Campbell and Anna McPherson. In addition, the help and co-operation of the Border Telegraph, Southern Reporter, Scottish Borders Council Archives Department has been invaluable.

I hope this book gives a fair reflection of the complex organisation known variously over the years as the Melrose Asylum, Roxburgh District Asylum, Dingleton Hospital and presently the Mental Health Network of Borders Primary Care NHS Trust.

Keith Millar
18th September 2000