Del­e­gates hear of Crich­ton’s value

Con­fer­ence cel­e­brates con­tri­bu­tion es­tate has made

The Galloway News - - DISTRICT NEWS -

A one-day con­fer­ence called A Cel­e­bra­tion of the Crich­ton was held in the Easter­brook Hall.

The con­fer­ence was at­tended by about 100 del­e­gates and a se­ries of lec­tures were given by knowl­edge­able speak­ers, rang­ing from its early days as a pi­o­neer­ing men­tal hos­pi­tal to its cur­rent use as an aca­demic cam­pus and plans for the fu­ture.

Be­fore­hand, some del­e­gates at­tended a ser­vice in the Crich­ton church and were able to hear the mag­nif­i­cent Lewis or­gan.

The first speaker was Morag Wil­liams, for­mer health board ar­chiv­ist, who spoke about the found­ing of the Crich­ton as a men­tal hos­pi­tal by El­iz­a­beth Crich­ton, the ap­point­ment of Dr Browne and other pi­o­neer­ing med­i­cal su­per­in­ten­dents and the use of art as a ther­a­peu­tic tool for the treat­ment of men­tal dis­or­ders.

The next speaker was the au­thor and poet Mary Smith, who de­scribed how Dr Browne, be­liev­ing that keep­ing pa­tients busy was a key to their treat­ment, in­tro­duced in­no­va­tions such as al­low­ing pa­tients to work in the grounds, farm or laun­dry, and to pro­duce a mag­a­zine, New Moon, which was so suc­cess­ful that the prof­its al­lowed the Crich­ton to buy its own print­ing press. The pa­tients also pro­duced and took part in the­atri­cal per­for­mances.

The next ses­sion con­cen­trated on med­i­cal as­pects. Dr David Hall, con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist at Mid­park Hos­pi­tal, de­scribed how psy­chi­atric treat­ment de­vel­oped from the early days of Dr Browne and his suc­ces­sors through to ground-break­ing re­search in re­cent years.

Alverie Weighill, re­tired con­sul­tant clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, dis­cussed the set­ting up of a depart­ment of psy­cho­log­i­cal re­search in 1943, which still con­tin­ues. Dr Shirley Turberville, se­nior lec­turer in nurs­ing and mid­wifery at the Univer­sity of the West of Scot­land, pointed out that Dr Browne in­sti­tuted a course of lec­tures on men­tal ill­ness for hos­pi­tal at­ten­dants as far back as 1854, six years be­fore Florence Nightin­gale set up her nurs­ing school.

Fi­nally Michael Cook, for­mer gen­eral man­ager of Dum­fries and Gal­loway Health Board, told how Dum­fries had an ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion for its health ser­vices in the years fol­low­ing the cre­ation of the NHS. An at­tempt was made to set up a world­class head in­jury unit at the Crich­ton but, de­spite hav­ing fund­ing and prom­ises of in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion, the project was ve­toed by the pow­ers at the time.

Af­ter lunch, the con­fer­ence moved on to other as­pects. Martin Robert­son, pres­i­dent of the Ar­chi­tec­tural Her­itage So­ci­ety of Scot­land, spoke about the ar­chi­tec­ture of the Crich­ton. Over the years, dif­fer­ent med­i­cal di­rec­tors em­ployed some of the best ar­chi­tects to de­sign the build­ings which com­bined fine ar­chi­tec­ture with a de­sign suited to their in­di­vid­ual pur­pose within a men­tal hos­pi­tal.

The last of these was James Flett, em­ployed by Dr Easter­brook, who de­signed the mag­nif­i­cent Easter­brook Hall in which the con­fer­ence was held.

The next talk was by Graham Roberts, coun­cil ar­chiv­ist, who re­ported on the project to dig­i­talise the Crich­ton Archive. The Well­come Trust has funded the work and the wider avail­abil­ity of the archive has re­sulted in in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est, in­clud­ing a visit from the direc­tor of the Vic­tor Hugo Mu­seum in Paris.

The fi­nal ses­sion started with a talk about the Crich­ton farm by Dave Roberts, pro­fes­sor of dairy farm­ing sys­tems at the Scot­tish Ru­ral Col­lege (SRUC).

He de­scribed how, start­ing in 1867, the Crich­ton Royal Farm was set up by buy­ing land ad­ja­cent to the hos­pi­tal. In due course, this pro­vided food for the hos­pi­tal and work for the pa­tients. Many agri­cul­tural in­no­va­tions were made, tractors be­ing first used as early as 1918. Since 1976 the farm has been part of SRUC and re­mains at the fore­front of agri­cul­tural re­search.

The fi­nal ses­sion was a panel dis­cus­sion on present and fu­ture use. This was led by Gwylim Gib­bons, CEO of the Crich­ton Trust, Pro­fes­sor David Clark of the School of In­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary Stud­ies, Univer­sity of Glas­gow, and Dame Barbara Kelly, of the Crich­ton Cam­pus Lead­er­ship Group.

Fu­ture ideas and pro­jects in the fields of ed­u­ca­tion, com­merce, pa­tient care and leisure ac­tiv­i­ties were dis­cussed in short pre­sen­ta­tions by each of the speak­ers. The ses­sion was then opened to ques­tions from the au­di­ence which helped to re­fine some of the ideas de­scribed by the pan­elists.

Af­ter the talks, del­e­gates were able to join guided tours of the Crich­ton led by Robin Til­son, head gar­dener, and ar­chi­tect Martin Robert­son, to view the gar­dens and ar­chi­tec­ture.

Over the years, the Crich­ton has been a place where in­no­va­tion and ex­cel­lence have gone hand in hand. This ap­plies not only to its pi­o­neer­ing work in the treat­ment of men­tal dis­or­ders, but in med­i­cal training, ar­chi­tec­ture, and med­i­cal and agri­cul­tural re­search.

It is an in­sti­tu­tion of which Dum­fries should be proud – a won­der­ful ed­u­ca­tional and recre­ational fa­cil­ity for the town.

The con­fer­ence was or­gan­ised by the Dum­friesshire and Gal­loway Nat­u­ral His­tory and An­ti­quar­ian So­ci­ety in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Crich­ton Trust.

Dr Jeremy Brock Pres­i­dent, Dum­friesshire and Gal­loway Nat­u­ral His­tory and

An­ti­quar­ian So­ci­ety

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