Dr Lachlan Grant Workshop

Dr Grant examines one of his patients.

A one-day workshop will be taking place on Saturday, 10 September 2011 at the Shinty Pavilion, Ballachulish, for academics and community members interested in the ‘life and times’ of Dr Lachlan Grant, Ballachulish and the western Highlands in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Dr Lachlan Grant (1871-1945), was a General Practitioner in Ballachulish, journalist, scientific researcher and Medical Officer of Health. He was a star pupil of the Edinburgh medical school, who went on to general practice in the remote Highlands and Islands. He kept his medical research active, however, building his own private laboratory to continue working on medical problems such as TB (which reached epidemic proportions in the interwar Highlands), anaemia and eye health.

Beyond his medical career, Grant was an important figure in the interwar Highlands; he was deeply involved in the major industrial disputes which took place at the Ballachulish slate quarries in the early twentieth century, where he was employed as a doctor for the workers. He later became Medical Officer of Health for British Aluminium, where he struggled to balance his support for much-needed industrial employment projects in the Highlands with a poor employers’ health and safety record onsite. Additionally, he was active politically, both in the Liberal party and the early years of the Scottish National Party. He was also a prolific journalist, integrating medical with wider political, social and economic issues in the Highlands, particularly those surrounding mental health care in the region. Lastly, he was an active campaigner for the economic and social development of the Highlands, modelled on the Tennessee Valley Authority set up by Roosevelt in the USA in the same period, including a crucial role in the Highland Development League (est. 1936) and especially improved health administration in the region, being a key a contributor to the Dewar Report (1912), which led to the establishment of the Highlands and Islands Medical Board in 1913, considered by many to be a ‘proto-NHS’.

This workshop will combine academic papers with workshops for the community, to enable them to contribute their own memories and analysis of Grant, his role in the community, and their wider thoughts on social, economic and political change in the area in the twentieth century.

The key themes and ideas expected to be prominent on the day include:

• Medical history, disability and the provision of healthcare in the Scottish Highlands;
• Religiosity
• Gender
• Migration (into and out of Ballachulish); depopulation; demographic changes
Land reform and the ‘Highland Problem’
Highland Development in the interwar period and beyond

Contributors to the workshop are advised that subject to ordinary review processes, publications via the Journal of Scottish Historical Studies will be encouraged. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered.
It is envisaged that academic papers will be c.20 minutes in length; please send potential titles with a short abstract by 21 April 2011 to:
Dr Annie Tindley, Glasgow Caledonian University (Annemarie.tindley@gcu.ac.uk)

This workshop and the project associated with it have been funded by the Wellcome Trust.

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