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AN INSIGHT INTO THE HISTORY OF CRIFFEL VIEW

The Crichton has a long and interesting history founded by dreams, ambition, perseverance and dedication. It has always been forward thinking and innovative and ultimately successful as a result of strong leadership, effective partnerships and a desire to build, strengthen and protect The Crichton Community. While many things have changed over the years, these core values have not.

Elizabeth Crichton had a dream to use her late husband’s bequest to create a University for Dumfries. Despite her best efforts this was not to be, but instead she created the world-renowned psychiatric hospital known as The Crichton Royal.

The Crichton was built as a residential community for mental health patients and as such was designed to enable patients to live and be cared for in a secure and self-contained environment. This meant that patients could work on the grounds and provide for themselves and their fellow patients. Many patients benefited from the therapy of working on the farm, while others worked in the gardens. Easterbrook Hall and the Crichton Memorial Church were used for social gatherings and religious ceremonies.

The grounds and sandstone buildings were built to an exceptionally high standard and have been the lasting legacy of The Crichton Royal Hospital.

Many of the buildings became surplus to requirements when mental health patients were discharged from hospitals and cared for in the community. The NHS occupied many of the buildings for clinics and administration, but businesses and academic institutions started to occupy some of the vacant buildings. You could say that Elizabeth Crichton’s dream was eventually realised and to this day, The Crichton is home to a unique multi-institution college and university campus and a thriving business park managed by The Crichton Trust. The Trust also manages and maintains The Crichton Memorial Church, Easterbrook Hall and The Crichton Gardens.

The development of Crichton Central in the Criffel View building will further complement these facilities and will create new opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange between business and academia.

But what is the history behind Criffel View?

As the name suggests Criffel View overlooks Criffel, the highest and most prominent hill in and around Dumfries. It is only 570m high, but it is an enjoyable, yet challenging climb to the top and offers great views of Dumfries and the surrounding area. Criffel is located 11 miles and a 20 minute drive from The Crichton.

We believe Criffel View was formerly known as the Farm Annexe and at one point Nithsdale House. The Farm Annexe was designed by Sydney, Mitchell and Wilson in 1897.

Criffel View was built in the same development phase as the Crichton Memorial Church, Johnstone House (laundry block, now Holiday Inn Dumfries), the Crichton Royal Farm and an extension to Crichton Hall.

Solway House, as we know it today, sits adjacent to Criffel View and provided residential accommodation for 80 male patients who worked on The Crichton Royal Farm. We understand that Criffel View, or the Farm Annexe as it was known then, was built in 1898/99 to provide additional residential accommodation for the male patients who worked on the farm.

Solway House, located next to Criffel View, was previously a residential accommodation unit for the male patients who worked on The Crichton Royal Farm

In 1953, the main residential part of the farm was renamed Solway House, but in 1962 became known as the Solway Industrial Unit where many of the patients worked. Solway House is still a thriving centre for enterprise and is currently occupied by artists, musicians and creative businesses.

As well as providing supplies for the hospital, the farm was also involved in several farming experiments involving milk, cattle feeding, breeding and potato culture. In 1975, Crichton Royal Farm was taken over by the West of Scotland College of Agriculture and is now run by SRUC as a The Crichton Royal Farm and Dairy Research Centre.

Archive records from 1980, refer to Criffel View as being a residential unit for mentally handicapped children, part of the NHS Mental Handicap Unit within the hospital.

We continue to explore the history of Criffel View and welcome insight from anyone who may know more about its past. If you have information to share with us please email: news@crichton.co.uk

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Crichton Central | The Crichton Estate | Bankend Road | Dumfries | DG1 4TA

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