In April 1915, Mrs Mary Caroline Outhwaite fitted up her residence at Craigforth, Elie, as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. Eighteen men, transferred from Craigleith Hospital at Edinburgh, were initially settled there. The hospital was under the medical care of Dr Pentland Smith of Elie. The Red Cross commandant was Miss Edith Scott Moncrieff, and the sister in charge was Nurse Wills. The local Red Cross contingent were on duty in the wards. Mrs Outhwaite’s services were recognised by the Secretary of War in 1918. 

Craigforth House, a splendid Victorian villa, was built in 1884 sitting on the headland between Elie and Earlsferry beaches. Surrounded by lawns, it enjoyed spectacular views over the river Forth to Edinburgh, the Bass Rock and the East Lothian coast.

Weekly donations of eggs, jam, scones, rhubarb, and fowls were made by people in the area.

In August 1915, Mrs Outhwaite arranged to provide a recreation room at Craigforth for the benefit of the convalescents, and to en­able her to do so promptly, a petition and plans of the building were submitted to the Town Council. The plans were approved, and warrant to pro­ceed with the erection was granted. This new facility was greatly appreciated by the patients, more especially during the long winter evenings.

At Christmas 1916, the interior of the building was decorated with evergreens, holly, and miniature flags, and in the centre of the dining-table was a large iced cake extending Best Wishes to all and decorated with flags. After a tea the company adjourned to the recreation room, where in the centre was a large and heavily laden Christmas tree, lit with coloured candles. No effort had been spared to make this feature a memorable one for those who participated. To the matron, commandant, sister, nurses, cook and kitchen staff of the hospital, Mrs Erskine, dismantling the tree, presented gifts gloves, trinkets and handkerchiefs, writing cases, hair tidy work bags, while the soldiers received fountain pens, tobacco pouches, match cases, pocket books, shaving minors, purses, cigarette cases, drinking cups, etc. In addition to these,  oranges, nuts, sweets, and cigarettes were distributed. The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” closed an entertainment which remained in the memories of all.

Thanks to Alan Provan.

 Craigforth Convalescent Home

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