The 'suffering, privation and distress' that James Smith witnessed in almost twenty years visiting the poorest parts of Glasgow on behalf of the Glasgow Missionary Society convinced him of the benefits of a convalescent home at the coast. He was instrumental in setting it up in 1866 and maintaining its profile to ensure ongoing contributions.
From a room and kitchen, the home was extended and remodelled on several occasions, notably in 1869, 1874, 1889 and 1896. The people who used the home were in very poor health, and in some years 3 or 4 deaths are reported. Initially the focus was on enabling people to benefit from the clean air at the coast but hydrotherapy was provided for those with rheumatism and sciatica including the installation of special baths in 1891. Treatment could also be provided for non-residents.
The Mission Coast Home was free of charge to those who used it apart from the cost of the train fare from Glasgow to Saltcoats. The home was financed by public subscriptions, gifts in kind, and legacies.
In 1870, the proceeds of an exhibition of the Glasgow Institute for Fine Arts were dedicated to the Home. Rich individuals, workmen from various firms and Sabbath School collections all contributed but Thomas Corbett, a businessman, made the greatest individual financial contribution and effectively underwrote the financial viability of the home. After his death his family conveyed the property occupied by the Home to the trustees. The board of the home prided themselves on being able to make a small amount of money go a long way.
Mr William Bryden, a Saltcoats clothier and his wife were central to the management of the home. The Bryden Memorial Hall was opened in 1889 as a tribute to the founders.
The Home continued to be used for convalescence well into the 20th century.
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