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Swimming pool plans at Oldmeldrum home where revered doctor was born

The owners of Cromlethill in Inverurie, where physician Sir Patrick Manson was born, are seeking permission to turn old stables into a swimming pool.

Crowds gathered outside the gates of Cromlethill in the summer of 1954 as Oldmeldrum paid tribute to its most famous son.

Sir Patrick Manson, known as the “father of tropical medicine”, was born at the property in 1844.

The Aberdeen University graduate gained acclaim while working in the Middle East for decades – where he is hailed as one of the “founders of modern China”.

His research continues to save countless lives to this day.

Among many achievements, Sir Patrick is responsible for opening the tropics to western people by identifying that mosquitoes spread disease.

Dr Andrew Topping, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, addressing guests at the unveiling ceremony at Cromlethill in our picture from July 1954.

He was one of generations of Mansons to stay in the Category B listed Georgian villa, before it changed hands in the 1950s.

Now its owners have lodged proposals to convert two centuries-old stables at the rear of the South Road property into an indoor swimming pool.

Planning documents submitted to Aberdeenshire Council by Ian Duncan Architects underline the historic value of the early 19th century house – but say the pool plans will not affect its character.

Cromlethill as featured on an ordnance survey map from 1867.

‘Notable’ birthplace of Patrick Manson

The papers state: “The first mention of Cromlethill is on the deeds for the sale of the land to the Manson family dated Christmas 1803.

“Manson is named in the deed as ‘Merchant in Oldmeldrum’ at a time when Oldmeldrum was the dominant settlement in the Garioch.

“Cromlethill remained in the Manson family for several generations and is notably the birthplace of Sir Patrick Manson (1844-1922) parasitologist who founded the field of tropical medicine.

“In 1954 a commemorative plaque was erected on the street boundary wall.”

An aerial image of the house from 1972.

Stables also have a medical past

From the 1950s, Cromlethill was occupied by local GP Annie Anderson, who ran her surgery from the three rooms of the stables earmarked for the new pool.

The surgery was closed upon her retirement in 1982.

Shortly afterwards, the grounds were sub-divided to accommodate two new properties, Cromlet Grove and Cromlet Lodge.

The stables building has been unused since 1982 and the owners say it is “generally in disrepair”.

The planning documents say: “The proposals seek to bring the disused former stables back into use as a pool house for the enjoyment of the occupiers of Cromlethill.

“In all, the proposals are contended to enhance, to a minor extent, the setting of the listed house.”

The first floor of the building will be removed to make room for the floor-standing pool, and create a single space.

The site today.

‘The father of tropical medicine’

The plaque on the wall outside Cromlethill states:

Birthplace of Sir Patrick Manson, GC, MG, MD, FRCP, DCS, LLD, FRS, 1844-1922, the father of tropical medicine.

It was erected by the London School of Tropical Medicine, founded by Sir Patrick in 1899.

Sir Patrick also formed a medical society in Hong Kong which developed into the College of Medicine and, in 1911, became the University of Hong Kong.

His mother, Elizabeth Livingstone, was a distant relative of the great explorer and Christian missionary of Africa, David Livingstone.

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly made reference to the stables being demolished. This has now been updated to clarify that the building will be converted. 

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