Vale of Leven Hospital


‘Designed with the Atom Bomb in mind…'

In 1952, Joe Gleave – who had become an authority on hospital design – got the chance to turn his theories into practice with the first large hospital commission for Vale of Leven Hospital in Balloch. Many of his innovative ideas about modular adaptability remain relevant today.

Vale of Leven Hospital was located in a valley, and was to be no more than three storeys high so that a blast from a nuclear bomb dropped on Glasgow would pass over the top. Injured people in Glasgow could then be transferred out for treatment. No-one at the time could have predicted that atomic weapons would become so powerful and prolific but the very existence of nearby submarine bases on the Clyde had clearly influenced the design solution.
Other concepts of modern healthcare were born at Vale of Leven, including nurse stations and hospital streets. The basement corridors were used for servicing, ground floor ones for the public and first floor ones for the staff. Many hospitals at the beginning of the 21st Century still do not have this level of segregation, with visitors, patients, staff, supplies, refuse and even the deceased often sharing the same circulation routes through the building.

Vale of Leven was completed in 1955 by the builder Angus MacDougall at a cost of £343,005.