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Perth EuroWalk

Point I - AK Bell Library

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Location: 2-8 York Place

A.K. Bell Library – By Delphine_Dallison – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This is an important prominent and striking Classical building, sitting on a raised site overlooking York Place. It was originally built as the Perth County and City Infirmary (see 1892 map). Designed by a local architect, the City Architect, William Mackenzie. The foundation stone was laid by Lord Kinnaird, a Whig politician, in 1836 and it opened in 1838.

In 1914, the new Perth Royal Infirmary was opened in Perth and the building here was used in 1915 as a Red Cross Hospital for wounded soldiers from the Western Front in World War 1. Volunteer nurse, Edith Drummond Hay‘s service with the British Red Cross began at Perth Auxiliary Hospital in September 1914 where she worked until February 1917. From March 1917 until 1919, Edith Drummond Hay worked in hospitals in France at Rouen, Abbeville and Boulogne and travelled to Villa Casa del Mare, Cabbe Roquebrune for a fortnights leave (February 1919). She was awarded the Royal Red Cross (second class) in the King’s Birthday Honours, June 1919, for her wartime service. 

In 1920, it was bought by the Perthshire Education Authority and in 1930, Perth & Kinross Joint District Council used the building as their headquarters. In 1985, the Council moved to other offices and the building was extended and became the main library for Perth in 1994.

William Macdonald Mackenzie (1797-1856) was the Perth City Architect for 30 years. He designed many buildings both in and around Perth.

Some interesting links:

Walking Route Instructions: To get to our next stop, St John’s Kirk, return via York Place and County Place and continue on down South Street. At approximately 97 South Street on your left, you can enter the St John’s Shopping Centre. A plaque to Perth’s twin town of Aschaffenburg can be found in here. The Mayor of Aschaffenburg opened the St John’s Centre in 1988. Exit at the King Edward Street/St John’s Place exit towards Perth City Halls and our next stop St John’s Kirk.