Institution Information - Hallcross House

Town/Parish/County: Musselburgh, Inveresk, Midlothian

Alternative Names: [none]

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Text from 1857 Royal Commission Report

“HALLCROSS HOUSE, MUSSELBURGH; Miss Reid, Proprietor, assisted by her uncle, Mr. Reid; Visited 1st May 1855.

This house is situated in the main street of Fisherrow. It contained, at the date of our visit, 81 patients, viz:—

Private patients, male, 1; female, 19

Pauper patients, male, 32; female, 29

[Total] 81

The premises consist of a principal building fronting the street, and some back projections and outhouses. The male pauper patients are located principally in the back buildings; the private patients and the female paupers in the main house.

As a general rule, the sleeping-rooms are small and crowded. The paupers have no day-rooms, so that their sleeping-rooms are always in occupation, except when the patients are in the grounds. The beds in some of the rooms fold up into presses, and, as this is done early in the morning, it is impossible they can ever be thoroughly aired. One patient sleeps in a press under a wooden stair, through which apertures are bored to give him air. Several of the rooms on the ground-floor are flagged. The rooms, with few exceptions, contain no tables, so that the patients are obliged to eat their meals off their knees. In some of them there are no chamber utensils, a tub being placed in the middle of the floor at night for general use. There are generally five or six, occasionally as many as eight, patients in a room, but sometimes only one, two, or three. In two instances, two men occupy the same bed. Some rooms are greatly over-crowded, and as there are scarcely any means of ventilation, they must become exceedingly close during the night. Some of the bedsteads are of wood, others of iron. The bedding consists of a straw mattress, a blanket, a rug, and one sheet. There is no change of mattresses for wet patients; they are simply dried and replaced, and the straw is renewed about once a week. The rooms are warmed by open fire-places or stoves, and are lighted with gas. The windows are all barred, and most of them are also guarded by wire-work.

The pauper diet consists of porridge and coffee for breakfast, broth made from ox-heads for dinner, and porridge again at night.

The private patients are said to have coffee and toast for breakfast, and broth and beef for dinner. The lower class of private patients mess with the paupers. There is no diet table, nor any means of ascertaining the quantity of food allowed the patients, who, however, appear sufficiently fed.

The clothing was generally clean, and sufficiently warm for the time of year.

Restraint is in frequent use. One patient is habitually fastened to the bedstead at night; another we found chained to the fireplace; another was in a strait-waistcoat. Chains are attached to several of the bedsteads, and one is fixed to the floor of one of the rooms to fasten patients who are not allowed to go out. There were a quantity of straps, and shackles, in the men's rooms. A shower-bath stands in the wash-house, and it is used at the discretion of the attendants, to quiet noisy and violent patients. Restraint of various kinds is employed without the previous sanction of the medical attendant, but its use is said always to be reported to him. A suicidal patient was in seclusion in an outhouse, which is not warmed, and is lighted only by some small panes above the door. The patients, it would seem, wash in the morning or not, as they choose; there are no lavatories, and no apparent means of washing, except the pump; although we were told that pails are placed in the rooms for that purpose.

There is no warm bath. During the summer, a few of the patients bathe in the sea. There are privies in the yards, but no water-closets within doors. There are two male attendants besides Mr. Reid, and four female servants. The head male attendant has £22 annually, the second £18. One female servant receives £8 annually, and the others £6 each.

The sexes are very imperfectly separated. There is a cell for a male patient on the females' side, and males and females take their exercise in the garden at the same hours, only nominally separated by a low fence. There is a second small airing-court, measuring 60 yards by 54, which is reserved for the worst class of male patients, who, it is said, cannot be trusted to comport themselves with decency. The garden measures about 60 yards in length, by 35 in breadth, and is enclosed by high walls.

There is a billiard-room, but so few patients understand the game, that it is little used. The table occupies a large room, which might be turned to much better account as a work-room. Several of the patients attend church, and a missionary visits the house every second Tuesday, and delivers a short discourse.

The highest rate of payment for private patients is £50 a year; one pays £40, and three £30. The pauper rate of payment is either £22 or £20 a year; in both cases including clothing. About sixty patients pay the former, and twelve the latter sum. The rate was formerly £22 in all cases, but other houses having reduced their charge, Miss Reid was obliged to follow the example, or lose her patients; some having been removed before the reduction was agreed to. This was done by the parishes of Dirleton and Musselburgh; and those of Alloa, Leslie, Callendar, Clackmannan, and Humbie, threatened to do so likewise.

The register of restraint is very meagre and unsatisfactory, and affords no information relative to the kind of restraint, or the supposed necessity for its application. Neither is any record kept from day to day of its continuance. The whole of the very large stock of instruments of restraint, is left in the custody of the attendants, who have thus the power of employing them whenever they think fit.

In order to ascertain, precisely, the degree of overcrowding, we obtained the following measurements of some of the rooms.

"No. — ground floor, with six beds and seven patients; contents, 1875 cubic feet, being 267 4/7 cubic feet to each patient. This and the adjoining apartment are heated by one stove, protected by an iron guard.

"No. 13, ground floor, with six beds and six patients; contents, 1408 cubic feet, being 234 4/5 cubic feet to each patient.

"Room communicating with No. 13, five beds and five patients; contents, 1805 cubic feet, being 361 cubic feet to each patient. Heated jointly, by a stove, with No. 13.

"Detached building for refractory patients, with entrance from the garden; one bed and one patient; contents, 375 cubio feet. No stove or fire-place.

"Upper floor of detached building; room with five beds and six patients; contents, 1148 cubic feet, being 191 2/8 cubic feet to each patient. A fire-place, protected by an iron guard.

"No. 7 of detached building, with three beds and three patients; contents, 1058 cubic feet, being 352 2/8 cubic feet to each patient. A fire-place, protected by an iron guard.

"Room of main house, upper floor, with five beds and six patients; contents, 1557 cubic feet, being 259 5/6 cubic feet to each patient.

"Closet in attic floor, No. 11, with one bed and two patients; contents, 356 cubic feet, being 178 cubic feet to each patient.

"Note—The average height of the ceilings is 7 feet 11 5/8 in."”

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