Former Scottish lunatic asylum converted into housing

Work has started on a project to turn a former lunatic asylum into a luxury housing development.

Sunnyside Carnegie Building

More than 450 homes are to be created at the former Sunnyside Royal Hospital, Montrose, and in its 64 acre grounds.

The former hospital was founded by mental health pioneer Susan Carnegie in 1781 as the Montrose Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary & Dispensary, and obtained a Royal Charter in 1810.

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Carnegie, who was born 175 years before women could vote, championed a humane and science-based response to mental health, revolutionary for the time, and experts say her heritage still enriches the current wave of scholarship on Scottish psychiatry and on women in psychiatry in general.

Her enduring influence resulted in the hiring of Dr William Alexander Francis Browne, who is still today considered one of the most significant asylum doctors of the nineteenth century.

Sunnyside Royal Hospital’s most famous patients were Charles Altamont Doyle – father of Scottish author and Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – and later the iconic Shetland sculptor Adam Christie.

However, after the introduction of Care in the Community in the early 1980s, the hospital went into a period of decline and closed in December 2011. It was sold off by NHS Tayside in 2016.

The £100 million development is being undertaken by Sunnyside Estates Ltd, a joint venture between local company Pert-Bruce Construction and Edinburgh-based luxury developer FM Group.

The developers say the former hospital building and its 64-acre grounds will be “transformed” into a residential development, that will provide a combination of apartments and family homes.

The former hospital building itself is being refurbished into luxury apartments and town houses and will form the centrepiece of Sunnyside Estate, set within acres of rural landscape. In addition, two new built areas destined for family houses will be constructed.

The development will be linked by a network of walkway and cycle routes through the open landscaped and mature woodlands.

It is expected to stimulate the local economy by creating around 50 local jobs over the next 10 years.

Craig Bruce from Pert Bruce Construction said yesterday: “As a local, family company we look forward to delivering a high-quality residential development, transforming this magnificent site and ensuring that it will once again be prominent in the local community.”