Outpatients Building


The Outpatient building, also known as the Western Infirmary Outdoor Dispensary or just the Dispensary, was designed by John James Burnet, and Dr Donald James Mackintosh. Begun in 1902, the building was officially opened on 18 January, 1905 by Lady Blythswood and the opening ceremony address was given by Sir Lauder Brunton. It is a category B building and was listed on 15 December 1970.

The Outpatient department allowed students to come face-to-face with a large number of cases. The patients would be seen and diagnosed by the outdoor staff while being observed by the students. The original department was located on the ground floor of the west block of the Western Infirmary and had become inadequate for the teaching and clinical requirements of the ever increasing demand of outpatient services. The new building was designed by John James Burnet and Dr Donald James Mackintosh - often referred to as Colonel Mackintosh; he was the medical superintendent of the Infirmary. Burnet and Mackintosh visited various new hospitals in Denmark and Germany to see the practical working of the latest improvements before finalising their plans for the Dispensary. The Outpatient department was built between 1902 and 1905. It was situated to the west of John Burnet Sr’s 1874 main infirmary block and was linked to G Block - a western extension of the main hospital that was built in 1906. In 1913-1916 G Block East was built, this linked G Block and the Outpatients department with the main infirmary.

Differing from Burnet Sr’s earlier Baronial style hospital, the Outpatient department is built in the Glasgow School Freestyle Scots Renaissance style. The interior incorporates neo-Baroque semicircular lunettes and voussoirs of alternating design. The waiting room hall has an openwork timber roof structure with carved beams and decorative boarding. The Church Street frontage contains several original architectural details such as rectangular windows with moulded surrounds and raised sculpted panels to gable apexes inscribed ‘MEDICINE’ and ‘SURGERY.’ The Architraved entrance to the south has a fleur-de-lys decorated panel above which is a sculpted panel with bracketed cornice inscribed “Glasgow Western Infirmary Outdoor Dispensary.”

When it opened in 1905 the Dispensary comprised a waiting hall which was necessarily large since patients were not seen by appointment but on a first come first served basis, six vast interviewing rooms with examination rooms attached, an operating theatre for minor surgery and a room for surgical dressings. There was an ingenious one-way traffic arrangement where patients entered the consulting rooms to which they had been assigned in response to the appearance above the appropriate door of an illuminated sign reading “next patient” actuated by a bell-push suspended from the light over the clinician’s table. After examination the patient departed through a passage which ran round the back of the building and led via the Pharmacy Department, where prescriptions were made up, to a separate exit on Church Street. Students attending the outpatient clinics entered from the rear courtyard of the Infirmary and into separate entrances to the consulting rooms. The students would then arrange themselves around the physician or surgeon and would occupy the semi-circular tiers of the seats. The viewing gallery of the main operating theatre could accommodate sixty students.

From 1933 to 1935 the building was altered and extended by Norman Aitken Dick of Burnet, Son & Dick in the same style used by John James Burnet.


Outpatients Building
62 Church Street
10C Dumbarton Road
Western Infirmary
G11 6NT
Record last updated: 17th Jul 2015