For International Womens Day, 2022 and the We are building a beach hut project, we wanted to share the remarkable story of Beatrice Clugston (1827–1888). Beatrice saw an opportunity to convert a Hydropathic Hotel in Dunoon into the West of Scotland Convalescent Seaside Home. The original hotel was built for visitors seeking Dunoon's healing salt waters and fresh sea air.
The hotel was linked to the Victorian's obsession with health holidays, sparked by people wanting to escape dirty industrial cities like Glasgow. This trend contributed to the rapid expansion of towns like Dunoon during the Victorian era.
Beatrice Clugston was born in Glasgow in 1827, from a young age she visited hospitals and women’s prisons across the city taking food and care directly to patients and prisoners.
Concerned by the unsanitary conditions she saw poorer patients having to endure in hospitals, she galvanised the wives of Doctors to do more to tackle health inequalities, establishing a Dorcas society in Glasgow in 1863. She paid for women to make clothes to give to patients and organised women to make care visits. Through talking to patients she recognised the challenges they faced outside of hospital and how poverty impacted on their recovery. In response she developed community support to improve the health outcomes for Glasgow's poor leaving hospital.
In 1869 she raised funds of over £11,000 (over £1 million today) to buy the Ardvullin Hydropathic Hotel and Turkish Baths in Dunoon. The facility had come up for sale following the death of the original owner. She converted the hotel into the West of Scotland Convalescent Seaside Home, a care facility for Glasgow's ‘deserving of the working classes in their times of sickness and penury’.
Beatrice garnered the support of Florence Nightingale, Her Royal Highness Princess Louise (the then Duchess of Argyll) and many others. She was famed for her fundraising Bazars and complete dedication to good causes throughout her life.
The West of Scotland Convalescent Seaside Home housed 150 residents, adults and children, who would stay at no or low cost to receive food, medication, therapeutic waters and sea air to aid their recovery.
The Victorian building was located on a site in Dunoon now occupied by Cowal Vets and St Mun’s Primary School. It was demolished many year ago, but Beatrice’s life and work is not forgotten. Her friends and patients erected a headstone in Kirkintilloch graveyard depicting Dorcas and the children of the convalescent home at Dunoon.
The monument features a carving by Pittendreigh MacGillivray, and is currently being restored.
A new flavour of Dunoon Goes POP healing water is being developed around Beatrice's story. More information about this will follow later in the beach hut project.
You can find out more about the West of Scotland Convalescent Seaside Home in the Dunoon Forward App
Read more about Beatrice Clugston on the Clugston Family Tree
Notes: Dunoon Goes POP is an ongoing research and enterprise project which aims to tell stories about the People Of Place (POP) and use those stories to inspire new flavours of soft drinks. The project aims to address some of the known inequalities and omissions in cultural narratives, whilst exploring the local and global impacts of soft drink making.