THE maternity unit at Airthrey Castle saw more than 2000 births by the end of 1945.

Infant mortality rates were below the national average, and it was recorded that three mothers lost their lives during that period.

Many of the mothers-to-be arrived a week or so before their due date. Most were from Clydebank with the rest made up from evacuees from England and Wales who were living in the surrounding areas.

Staff were key to the smooth running of the hospital. On one occasion, the cook suddenly left, but one of the staff nurses took over and cooked for the patients, a job she did for the next few years.

On March 31, 1946, the hospital was bought for a little more than £30,000 and handed over wholly to the council, by which time there was a full-time consultant.

The units at Falkirk and Stirling were overflowing and Airthrey was a good addition to take the strain. A year later it became a training facility under Dr Donald Greig after Dr Eva Taylor Cairns left to marry John McLaren.

In February1948, Dr Elizabeth Margaret Rose, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, who specialised in gynaecology and obstetrics at the old Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, took up the position of consultant and lived in the castle for some time following her appointment.

There were two beds in the labour ward at the time. The matron was Miss Clark and the two sisters were Miss Taylor and Miss Bunyan plus there were two student midwives.

With the birth of the NHS in July 1948, the hospital came under the auspices of the Western Regional Health Board. When it was handed over, it had evolved into 31-bed unit and training school with a consultant, with staffing levels at the highest it had seen.

Soon afterwards, word came through that much of the land was to be sold off, with the exception of Airthrey Castle and its immediate environs.

During Dr Rose’s time, there were between 580 and 700 births per year with Dr Greig being the expert with forceps and breech births. Blood and plasma were kept in the fridge for emergencies and although Dr Rose mainly worked at Stirling Royal Infirmary, she held clinics in Alloa and Falkirk, and only attended Airthrey on Tuesdays and Sundays.

However, a blow came in 1964. On July 17, it was announced that the first university to be built in Scotland for 400 years would be constructed at Airthrey.

Morale at the hospital slowly deteriorated. The gardener and cook retired and the bulldozers came. The greenhouses were dismantled and replaced by temporary offices. The delivery of babies continued in this rather subdued mood.

In 1967, the University was open for students and in 1969 Airthrey Castle Maternity Hospital closed its doors a few weeks after a new maternity unit opened at the nearby Stirling Royal Infirmary on September 16.

In all, 15,000 babies had been born at Airthrey Castle Hospital during its time as a maternity unit and many people in the Hillfoots were born in there.

It was Category B Listed on September 5, 1973.