Ruberslaw House - a relic of Crieff's Georgian past


It’s  not quite  what it  was when  built in the early 19th century . Ruberslaw House sitting above the  Nisa car park is a Georgian building  with not  a little character  about it . It was built as the Clydesdale Bank and included the bank agent’s  house . The  southern aspect would  have  made it  a bright airy building and there were  extensive  outbuildings  to the rear including stables and coach house . The garden grounds  originally  extended south to Pittenzie Street and this  part  was  eventually to become Alexander’s  Bus Depot and then Penny Lane  . The  main entrance  was off what was at one  time called Pudding Lane . This delightful cognomen succumbed to the inevitable change  of  mediocrity  becoming , surprise, surprise Bank Street !

Not  many  people  realise that Ruberslaw  became an auxiliary hospital during the  First World War . It was the policy  to establish central hospitals in strategic spots to allow the sick and wounded to be treated . It transpired , however that these were insufficient to deal with the growing number of patients and so a demand arose for auxiliary hospitals throughout the country . Perthshire  on account of its central location had  some thirteen  of these  hospitals which apart from Ruberslaw  included Ochtertyre and Monzie Castle . The  new  hospital was run by an organisation called The Crieff Voluntary Aid Detachment working under the Red Cross . The house  had been empty  at the time  so a transition to a hospital proved comparatively straight forward with its  rental being covered  by an anonymous donor . Because of it size , Ruberslaw had  some 26 beds  plus a  sizeable  administrative and service set up . According to the account in Campbell’s “ Crieff in the Great War ” , furniture and other  necessary items   to make the place  function  were gifted by the citizens of the town . The hospital was under the supervision of Dr Burnett who was termed“ commandant ” as medical officer and a Sister MacMillan , the trained  nurse of the Detachment who acted as Matron. It  was a considerable  effort that the running of the hospital was undertaken by a team of  35  local persons . It was on this  basis  that the Hospital opened  for  business on the 17th May 1915 and  stayed  open for some four  years  finally closing in March 1919 . Campbell  tells us that in this period some 877  patients  were treated for a variety of ailments and  not a single death was recorded .

Records  show that  in 1915  a Battalion of the Seaforths plus about a hundred  men belonging to the Army Service Corps were located  in Crieff undergoing military training and for that period a section of the Hospital was set aside  to cater for any sick belonging to them .In this pre telly and radio era  entertainment was  provided with  evening concerts featuring local talent as well as a  fair sized billiard  room suitably  equipped  . In the days  of Spring and Summer the grounds of Ruberslaw afforded the opportunity  for games  such as croquet and clock golf .

When Ruberslaw closed as a Hospital,  Dr Burnet was given a suitably inscribed silver salver . This I believe is still competed for in competition at Crieff Golf Club.

Ruberslaw  was  flatted  and converted and despite the somewhat reduced  area  of garden ground  is still a  building  of some distinction . To  see what it  was like  shortly after  construction  look at Woods 1822 Map of Crieff available  in digitised  format through the National Library of Scotland :

I can recall a number of years  ago a young  guy purchased  one of the ground floor flats  and started on a series of alterations . One of these included increasing the size of the kitchen and dining area . He  found out  he  taken on rather more than he had anticipated . It transpired the kitchen was in fact  the old bank safe  with a 12 inch thick cast iron core  sandwiched  between brick outer skins  ! Not quite  sure what the eventual outcome was I can “ safely”  say !




  1. I have attached below some details about Scotland's War, a section of which is Perth and Kinross's War.

    We are in the throes of poulating the website at the moment before its launch on 4 February, and would like to include the photograph of the Ruberslaw nurses and your description of it. Indeed if there is anything else you would like to contribute, we would be happy to publish.

    I look forward to hearing from you at


    Scotland's War

    Since 2008, the University of Edinburgh's Centre for the Study of Modern Conflict has been working with Edinburgh, Leith and the Lothians' libraries, schools and community groups to ensure that the story of Scotland's contribution to the Great War is not forgotten. Furthermore, the partnership was strengthened when The Scottish Military Research Group became a partner in 2010, History Fest in 2011, and the National Library of Scotland in 2013. Scotland's War was launched on 28 June 2013. On 7 July 2013, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) joined as a partner. A number of other organisations have made initial contact indicating a wish to work with us and The Scotsman has recently become a partner. From our joint efforts over the past few years, it has become all too obvious that the history of this nation at war remains largely untold, particularly the civilian efforts on the Home Front.

    From the earliest days of the project, public engagement has been central to its success. We now have a very active programme working with libraries, carrying out WW1 archival and document searches, and the public and institutions have submitted family or institutional papers for inclusion in the WW1 public engagement initiative. Many of them can now be found on the new website ( We have strict guidelines and an ethical policy on the submission and use of documents, photographs, artefacts and memorabilia.

    In October 2012, in collaboration with our partners, Edinburgh City Libraries, we launched The WW1 History Hub which is supporting people to tell family stories about their contribution to the Great War. The WW1 History Hub initiative is a first in the UK and is a product of years of work between Edinburgh City Libraries and the University of Edinburgh.

    We have a unique opportunity to allow the present generation of Scots to trace the footsteps of their ancestors in order to tell the whole story of Scotland's people, their service, and their sacrifice in the Great War and to reflect on the consequences of a conflict that arguably changed our nation forever.

    At the moment Edinburgh's War can be found at Scotland's war will evolve using the same template.


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