Sunnyside Hospital on market four years after its closure

Sunnyside Hospital
Sunnyside Hospital

Scotland’s first purpose-built asylum is up for sale and there has already been some interest in the 150-year-old plus building.

Sunnyside Royal Hospital at Hillside, by Montrose, closed its doors in December 2011 after serving as a mental health facility for 153 years in the area.

Landowner NHS Tayside has put the former hospital and the surrounding site on the market through agents Ballantynes of Edinburgh, who hope to have a short time period of around six to eight weeks for marketing.

An NHS Tayside spokesperson said: “Following the transfer of services from Sunnyside Royal Hospital to the new £20 million Susan Carnegie Centre at Stracathro in 2011, the former Sunnyside site was declared surplus and has now been put on the market.”

Ballantynes of Edinburgh partner Rory Ballantyne said: “It has only been on the market for a week and interest is strong.

“Our hopes are that someone would buy the whole site with the community in mind.

“It’s hard to say a price because there are so many different options as to what can be done with the site.

“NHS Tayside has done a lot of preparation before putting it on the market - it is not just a case of putting it up for sale and moving on.

“Ultimately the decision will be what is best for the site and what is best for the NHS as it is a public body. We want to respect the building but also do what is best for the public purse.”

Montrose Councillor David May said: “It is good in one respect as I had hoped that it wouldn’t fall into disrepair like Strathmartine Hospital.

“On the other hand, it depends what happens next, whether Sunnyside will be cherry picked off or some one will buy it in its entirety.

“I can see the potential for it to be made into flats.

“Some people have suggested it be made into a hotel or a complex, but given the current economic state and the fall in oil and gas activity, I can’t foresee that happening, although it would be good if it did. It would a great site - some of the buildings are beautiful and the view from the site is fabulous.”

The site includes a number of large listed buildings, including the main hospital building, Carnegie House and Booth House.

Last month, NHS Tayside commissioned Jones Lang LaSalle to develop a plan for the site and in August the health body applied for listed building consent to demolish the former hospital’s chapel, Laurel Cottage and Angus House.

The Montrose Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary and Dispensary was founded by Susan Carnegie of Charleton In 1781.

It was based on Montrose Links and by 1853 the number of residents had passed the 200 mark.

The expanding patient numbers led to a new improved asylum being built at Sunnyside Farm, Hillside.

It was designed by William Moffat in 1857 and was operational by 1858.

With the introduction of the NHS, the mental health unit’s name was changed from the Royal Asylum of Montrose to the Royal Mental Hospital of Montrose and in 1962 it became Sunnyside Royal Hospital.

Noteworthy patients include the father of Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a talented artist, and Shetlander sculptor Adam Christie, who made stone sculptures while he was at Sunnyside using very basic tools.