THE achievements of a pioneering mental health hospital are to be celebrated this month on the 150th anniversary of its opening in Melrose.

It’s more than 20 years since Dingleton Hospital closed its doors for the final time and the main building has since been converted into apartments.

The hospital is still remembered with affection and admiration, however.

And on Saturday, August 20, a group of past patients, previous staff and their families are to mark the anniversary of it openings and commemorate all who worked and received care there.

The event will mimic the journey taken by the first patients to arrive in Melrose on May 14, 1872.

The 124 men and women – 62 of each – had travelled by train, via Edinburgh, from Millholme House in Musselburgh.

Millholme House had been declared unfit for habitation, so the residents were transported to Melrose and found the energy to climb the hill to Dingleton.

Through the work of pioneering American psychiatrist Dr Maxwell Jones in the 1960s, a therapeutic community model was introduced to the hospital, thereby delivering a healing setting seen as transformative in its day, as well as instilling an ethos of community psychiatry, long before it was recognised nationally as best practice.

Tania Ferguson, NHS Borders health visitor leader, is one of the organisers of the event.

She said: “We want to remember all those who worked in and received care at Dingleton, throughout a century and a half of mental health care provision.

“From humble beginnings, the hospital grew in confidence and stature, becoming the first mental hospital in Scotland and probably in the United Kingdom, to open all its locked wards in 1949. From the 1950s onwards, Dingleton Hospital established an international reputation as a progressive provider of mental health care.

“To commemorate the anniversary we are organising a fun walk up Dingleton Hill, from Melrose station to the old hospital site, which is now residential apartments. We will be shown around the site by a member of the Dingleton Residents Association then a gathering will be held in the Ship Inn in Melrose from 4pm for refreshments and a light buffet.”

Tickets are available for £6. For more information call 01423 851462 or email