Commemorating Elsie Inglis

An Edinburgh road, crescent or avenue could pay tribute to one of the city’s most esteemed medical pioneers.

Elsie Inglis
Elsie Inglis, photo from Capital Collections, reproduced by Ethel Moir 1916

Under moves to mark the centenary of her death in November 2017, Councillors will be asked to consider naming a street after Doctor Elsie Inglis (1864 – 1917).

Widely regarded as a heroine of the First World War and an advocate for women’s rights, Elsie Inglis was instrumental in setting up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service Committee, an organisation funded by the women’s suffrage movement for the Allied war effort.

Councillor Richard Lewis, Edinburgh’s Culture Convener, said: “Elsie Inglis established better medical practices and conditions for women in hospitals and was a central figure in the suffrage movement. As we edge towards the centenary of her death, a street named in her honour would provide a new tribute to this pioneering figure."

Councillors will consider the plans at a meeting of the Culture and Sport Committee on Tuesday 23 August.

The move has been welcomed by campaigner and historian Alan Cumming, who said it was important to remind residents of Elsie Inglis’ Edinburgh roots. He said: "I think it would be wonderful if the Council recognised Elsie Inglis in this way. She was a remarkable lady and influential in medicine even to this day. She helped the city's poor and thousands of people turned out to her funeral at St Giles Cathedral almost 100 years ago. It is important to continue recognising the role that Elsie Inglis played in Edinburgh."

The Council’s museums service has been working to raise the profile of women’s history and Elsie Inglis’ work and will host a special lecture and film presentation from Alan Cumming on 21 November. The Museum of Edinburgh event will examine Scottish Women’s Hospitals during the Great War and recount the career and suffrage campaigning of Elsie Inglis.

There are five memorials to Elsie Inglis in Edinburgh, including a bronze plaque where she founded her own medical practice and maternity hospital at 219 High Street.

Further plaques commemorating her life and achievements can be found at 8 Walker Street at the site of her pre-war hospice; next to the University of Edinburgh at Old Surgeon’s Square; and in Holyrood Park where the Elsie Inglis Hospital stood until 1988. 

A stone tablet sculpted by Pilkington Jackson in her memory is on display in St Giles Cathedral where her funeral service was held in November 1917.

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