Ex-Sunnyside hospital staff cut turf marking the start of work on 35 new affordable homes on the historic site

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Over 40 ex-nurses of the former Sunnyside Royal Hospital near Montrose visited the iconic site to tour the grounds one last time and cut the turf, marking Sunnyside’s new lease of life as a housing development (images attached).

During their visit around the grounds of the estate, overlooked by the historic building which they once worked in to support a wide variety of mental health issues, the nurses recalled stories from their time there and found out more about the homes to come.

The psychiatric hospital was the first public asylum in Scotland and among the first in the English-speaking world. Sunnyside Royal Hospital’s most famous patients were Charles Altamont Doyle, father of Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who struggled with epilepsy, and iconic Shetland sculptor Adam Christie.

The nurses then cut the turf, marking the start of work on a £4.4m development of 35 affordable homes within the estate grounds.

Pictured: Sunnyside Estate and Pert Bruce director Jamie Pert, Hillcrest chief executive Angela Linton and Sunnyside site manager Mark MacPherson along with the group of ex-nurses.

The nurses were joined at the site by Hillcrest chief executive Angela Linton and Sunnyside Estate & Pert-Bruce director Jamie Pert.

The homes, developed by Sunnyside Estates – a partnership between Tayside construction firm Pert-Bruce and Edinburgh based developer FM Group on behalf of Hillcrest Homes, are set to be the first of two phases of affordable homes at the site.

Work on the first phase of homes is expected to be completed in summer 2021, with the second phase which will deliver an additional 59 homes set to begin work that same year. The 94 homes in total will be earmarked for social rent.

The first phase of homes will offer a range of property sizes of one, two and three bedrooms, and will provide good quality housing for a range of family needs.

Angela Linton, Hillcrest chief executive, said: “Sunnyside has a huge historical significance to the local area, and we’re delighted that the hospital building will be preserved for future generations as part of the wider development plans.

Jamie Pert, director at Pert-Bruce Construction and Sunnyside Estate added:  “Sunnyside Estate Ltd are delighted to be working in collaboration with Hillcrest to build much needed affordable housing for the Montrose area. We were also very privileged to welcome this group of retired Sunnyside Hospital nurses who worked within this highly regarded psychiatric hospital.”

The original building was founded in 1781 by Susan Carnegie as Montrose Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary and Dispensary, and was located on Montrose Links, receiving a Royal Charter in 1810.

A new and improved asylum – the iconic building which still stands today near the village of Hillside was designed by William Lambie Moffat and completed in 1858.

The asylum passed into the ownership of the NHS in 1946, and changed its name from Royal Asylum of Montrose to Royal Mental Hospital of Montrose, before becoming Sunnyside Royal Hospital in 1962.