Northern Infirmary Fund Aberdeen Press & Journal 8th September 1926


While healthcare is now accessible to all in the UK, it was a more sporadic experience before the establishment of NHS. Mackinlay & Birnie, together with other donors mentioned above, provided amenities for the average working-class household. The National Health Service would not arrive until 1948. However, it would assume existing facilities as a foundation to deliver its services to the nation.

Mackinlay and Birnie had a strong commitment to supporting local charities in their ongoing endeavours. Furthermore, John Birnie held a great interest in promoting the widespread availability of medical facilities, especially for ex-forces personnel. 

Being a fervent supporter of the British monarchy, he found himself at odds with Neil M. Gunn and their divergent political ideologies, leading to heated interactions. Such conversations would have been noteworthy, and probably occurred in the distillery offices as both men worked in close proximity to each other. 

One picture held in the Highland Archive Centre, in Inverness, is connected to the NHS and is therefore regulated by their availability rules. I'm able to discuss the photograph, but cannot publish it here.

Taken on May 8th 1928, Major W. Elliot lays the foundation stone for the new Northern Infirmary. A variety of local dignitaries are in attendance and collectively photographed at the location. The attendees comprise the Lord Provost and multiple former provosts, among them a distinguished John Birnie. 

Essentially, this newspaper article marks the start of a journey that led to the construction of the hospital for Inverness and the surrounding region. The photograph is available for viewing by request, whilst visiting the Highland Archive Centre, which is thoroughly recommended.