The Scott Sanatorium

In 1912 it was felt that there was a need for a sanatorium in Nairobi for white settlers, and the idea for the Scott Sanatorium took root. What was the origin of its name? It was named for the Rev. Henry Edwin Scott, LRCP and SE, a medical missionary. Dr. Scott, who died in 1911 in his forty-eighth year, was educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh. He was a distinguished football player and a good all‑round athlete. He had been a missionary of the Church of Scotland since 1890 and was first stationed at Nyasaland. In December 1907 he was transferred to Kikuyu, British East Africa, to act as the head of the Church of Scotland Mission there. He took a prominent place in the public life of the community. He was a member of the Government Board of Education, and the Government also called on him for advice in connection with native affairs. He also helped to found the YMCA in Nairobi. He was so honoured and respected by the local community that they named the Scott Memorial Sanatorium after him.


The generosity of Northrup McMillan, the Nairobi benefactor, enabled the project to go ahead. He gave a donation of £1,000 and stood guarantor for a loan of a further £2,500. Subscriptions were solicited and the nurse and midwife Violet Donkin was recruited in England to lead the sanatorium. We can trace the building’s progress from the local paper, The Leader.

The Leader – 10 August 1912

The subscriptions to date for working expenses on behalf of the Scott Sanatorium amount to the sum of Rs-3,841.45. The building operations have now begun and it is hoped to complete the structure in January next. Miss Donkin, who sails by the ‘Galeka’ on Monday for England, will return about that time.

The Leader – 1 February 1913

Miss Donkin was among the arrivals by last Saturday’s up train.

The Leader – 8 February 1913

Scott Nursing Institution

The building of this institution is proceeding apace under the energetic supervision of Miss Donkin, who has returned from Europe well benefited by her holiday. Miss Donkin brought with her a trained surgical nurse and masseuse, who is well up in electrical treatment. According to the objects and design of this settlers’ institution, which has received and donation from Mr McMillan, and in which several leading men are interesting themselves, it should come as a boon to the class it is designed to serve. Moderate fees is a feature of the foundation.

The Leader – 1 March 1913

Miss Donkin met with a nasty accident, falling off her mule and will, unfortunately, be laid up for a few days.

The Leader – 29 March 1913

The Scott Sanatorium

A neat little booklet has been issued of the above institution with a preliminary report by Miss Donkin, the Honorary Secretary. The Patron is Sir Percy Girouard, the President Lord Delamere, and vice-presidents, Capt. Grogan, Major Leggett and J.Wilson, Esq. A very influential committee has been formed with Mr D.Beaton as the Hon.Treaurer. Quoting from the booklet, the objects are:

  1. To supply a long-felt need for such an institution at reasonable charges, within the scope of the most moderate income.
  2. Medical treatment to be given for such ailments as do not demand admittance to an ordinary hospital.
  3. A place for patients to reside during the period of convalescence, following on a serious illness.
  4. To supply means for the benefit of change of air, particularly for those who live in the hotter and less pleasant districts of the two protectorates.


The building is now nearing completion and is situated on an excellent site not far from the Catholic Mission. Moderate fees will be the feature. A long list of contributors is added and we consider it almost a duty for every settler to contribute his mite towards the support of such an institution, founded and conducted for settlers, in times of sickness and need. Great praise is due to Miss Donkin for the energy and thoroughness thrown into the work, for the successful formation of such an institution has entailed considerable labour and thought.

The Leader – 3 May 1913

In a very short time the Scott Sanatorium will have its formal opening. When completed this fine sanatorium should prove a distinct advantage to the country and a boon to those who seek convalescence with skilled attendance and salubrious and bright surroundings. It has been entirely built by means of voluntary contributions of the settlers, any further donations towards which would be money well placed.

The Leader – 31 May 1913

Opening of the Scott Sanatorium by H.E. the Governor. A special train will leave Nairobi Station at 3.15pm for mile 330 [Kabete]. The Sanatorium will be opened at 4pm.


Next month I will continue the story of the Scott Sanatorium and its redoubtable heroine, Violet Donkin.