Pregnant pause to catch a breath

THE steep climb to the famous Rottenrow Royal Maternity Hospital was a path well-trodden by generations of Glaswegians.

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Opened in 1860, if mum wasn't in labour at the foot of the Townhead hill, she would certainly be gasping for gas and air by the time she reached the hospital's front door.

There are almost as many tales about the derivation of the 'Rottenrow' name as there were babes born in the hospital. Some claim it comes from the Gaelic rat-an-righ, which translates as "road of the kings". Others say it relates to a row of tumbledown cottages which once sat on the site. The most likely explanation is that it is comes from 'routine row', and marks the path which church processionals would take to the nearby Medieval Glasgow Cathedral.

The hill proved testing for generations of trauchled mums, nervous new fathers, proud grannies and slightly 'pit oot' older brothers and sisters.

After welcoming hundreds of thousands of Glasgow weans into the world, the hospital finally closed in 2001, when maternity services moved to the nearby Royal Infirmary.

Today, the former hospital site is a public park, but the building's memory lives on in the shape of a giant nappy-pin sculpture by the late, great maverick artist George Wyllie.


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