The History of Bangour

Bangour Village Hospital has been a huge part of the West Lothian community for over 100 years, from its opening in 1906 until the eventual closure of the last ward in 2004.


Since then, it has remained abandoned and has subsequently become something of a local tourist attraction, with visitors coming from afar for a fascinating glimpse into Scottish history.


Find out more about the history of Bangour by following the timeline below, starting from the very beginning...

Initial Inspiration


The 960 acres of land was purchased by the Edinburgh District Lunacy Board with an aim to develop a new type of psychiatric hospital, which would allow patients to benefit from a more open environment. The inspiration came from the “Continental Colony” system which had been in development at Alt-Scherbitz in Germany.


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Design & Planning


The EDLB launched a competition for the design of the site in 1902, which was won by Hippolyte Blanc, an architect based in Edinburgh. Blanc’s design was described as “17th Century Scottish Renaissance” and was praised for it’s aesthetic, particularly for how each of the buildings appeared distinct while still feeling unified as one collection.


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On the 13th of October 1906, the hospital was officially opened by the Rt Hon The Earl of Rosebery, Lord Lieutenant of Linlithgowshire. The first patients had already been moved in during 1904, with over 200 in residence in many of the sites 30 villas by the end of 1905.


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First World War


After a decade of operation, the hospital was taken over by the military in 1915 to aid in treating soldiers wounded in WW1. It is estimated that near the end of the war over 3000 wounded soldiers were being treated at Bangour, and as a result, the mentally ill patients were rehoused to several other institutions around the country.


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In 1922, the hospital resumed its normal services as a mental institution.


Following the end of WW1, the Village Church was commissioned as a memorial to those who served in the conflict.

Second World War


Following the beginning of WW2, the hospital was again taken under military control and was renamed to the “Edinburgh War Hospital.”


A new annex was constructed on the North-West portion of the site to accommodate the increased demand.

Bangour General Hospital


Following the end of WW2, the large annexe that had been constricted was repurposed as Bangour General Hospital, This facility would provide more general medical services to the West Lothian community, while the Village Hospital resumed its duties as a mental institution.


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St John's Hospital


In 1989, the new St John’s Hospital in nearby Livingston was opened, which subsequently lead to the closure and eventual demolition of the Bangour General Hospital.


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Changes in Psychiatric Care


Over the next decade, the approach to the treatment of mental health issues was changing across the continent. This was a result of advances in medicine and a general shift to a more community-based style of treatment. This lead to the closure of many mental hospitals that were founded on a more traditional approach.


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Gradually throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Bnagour Village Hospital ceased operation, and eventually, in 2004 it was closed completely following the departure of the final patients.

Filming on Location


In 2005, Bangour was used as a filming location for the filmĀ The Jacket, featuring stars Adrian Brody and Kiera Knightly. They filmed mostly exterior shots outside the main hospital wing situated in the North-East of the site.


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Emergency Services Training


In 2013, Bangour once again appeared in the news as it was used for a major chemical alert exercise.


NamedĀ Exercise Green Gate, its aim was to prepare emergency services to deal with a major chemical incident.


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Sold Off


In early 2018, the site was purchased and plans for a new development were set in motion. They included plans to build over 800 homes and a new primary school.

Demolition Begins


In late 2019, demolition began in the centre of the compound. It is rumored that in early 2020, the villas located in the meadows to the West will be demolished and construction will commence.