Archive for the ‘News’ category

Mental: A History of the Madhouse

May 19th, 2010

This programme was on BBC 4 last Monday but is still available on the iplayer for those that have access to it. Worth watching, did anyone else see it – what did you think?


April 27th, 2010

Excellent Report from Commissioners

The Cardiff Mental Hospital Committee, meeting at the institution at Whitchurch yesterday afternoon, under the chairmanship of Councillor Morgan Thomas, had the satisfaction of hearing an excellent report concerning the institution from the Lunacy Commissioners. The committee first, however, gave consideration to the estimates for the ensuing year. The total amount required is £6,085, the principal item being £2,879 for maintenance of city patients. Last year the total amount required was £5,253. Last year the total amount required was £5,253. The estimate was approved less £110 taken from an amount of £210 put down for alterations to buildings. The report of the Lunacy Commissioners (Messrs S. J. Fraser Macleod and E. Marriott Cooke), after speaking of the great difficulties of the organisation, and administration of such an institution made reference to the energy and capacity displayed by those responsible for the direction of the asylum. Although the institution was opened as recently as May, 1908, they found everything in an admirable state of efficiency. Only two complaints were received, and each upon investigation proved groundless. On the other hand there were many expressions of gratitude for the kindness and attention that had been shown them by the medical and nursing staffs.

Since July, 1909, there had been 95 admissions, 59 discharges or renewals, 37 instances of recovery, and 38 deaths. There remain in the institution 343 males and 328 females, of whom 16 are private and 12 out county patients. The maintenance charges per head per week are:- Home patients, 13s 11/2d; out county patients, 14s; private patients, 21s. All the deaths were due to natural causes, and there had been no serious casualty. The general health of the institution is at present good.

The Commissioners commended the committee upon the departure of adding a pathological chemist to the medical staff for the purpose of facilitating research work.

From the S W Daily News January 28 1910

Some interesting Stories from the BBC website

March 13th, 2010

We would love to hear from you if you wrote one of these stories about the Hospital or if you have any others


March 13th, 2010

vol 698 cc177-86

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Pym.]

10.20 p.m.

Mr. George Thomas  (Cardiff, West)

I am grateful to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for his courtesy in coming to the House tonight, as I know that he had another important engagement which he has now cancelled. I am sorry to cause the hon. Gentleman inconvenience, but I wish to raise a matter of substantial importance in the City of Cardiff. I have not hitherto taken part in the debates in the House on the question of mental health, but recently I paid a visit to the Whitchurch Mental Hospital, Cardiff, and I must say that my deep interest was aroused and my concern for those who are involved in the work of the hospital has found expression in this debate.

I want to pay a tribute to the doctors, the nurses, the psychiatrists and the social workers and the whole splendid team who, under the leadership of Dr. Spillane, pursue the interests of them mentally sick at Whitchurch Hospital. Like those in other mental hospitals, they work under substantial difficulties. For instance, the workroom which I visited was crowded almost beyond capacity. But I gladly pay tribute to the substantial improvements that have taken place in this hospital since my previous visit, unfortunately a long time ago. Bright decorations and modern furniture have made the wards much more attractive and, I believe, the life of the patients much more variable.

I was shocked to learn that a great number of patients in the hospital ought not to be there at all. Devoted medical skill and care and the use of modern drugs have together served to bring these patients to a point where they could live in the community if they had suitable accommodation. Some of them have been long years in the hospital and the only reason they are there today is either that they have no family to which they may return or that for a diversity of reasons their family declines to take responsibility for caring for them. I can think of no greater agony than for a 178 restored person in a mental hospital to be aware that he has to go on living there simply because he has no home to which to return. It is a palpable injustice which society perpetrates upon these people that they should have to endure further years in the mental hospital like lost souls in an indifferent society.

For the whole debate please look at:

Thanks to Tim Goosey for finding this information.


March 13th, 2010

At a meeting of the Cardiff Mental Hospital Committee the Town Clerk reported that the Cardiff Railway Company had given notice that they intended to seek powers to take six acres of the asylum estate for their railway. Dr Goodall said the asylum estate consisted of 186 acres, and they had no surplus land. They intended to keep 30 cows, and only 110 acres were available. If the railway company would put down a siding the hospital would be saved hundreds of pounds a year in haulage. The railway company had refused to put down a siding on the ground of expense. It was decided to ask the Parliamentary Committee to oppose the Bill seeking powers to take the land, and the medical superintendent and the city engineer were asked to submit a report on the question of a siding.

This was seen in a local newspaper in 1907.


March 2nd, 2010

A remarkably speedy cure is to be credited to the medical staff of the Cardiff Mental Hospital. Dr. Goodall, the superintendent, declined to discuss the matter at all-he was too modest even to mention it at the last meeting of his committee-but the chairman, Councillor Morgan Thomas, was not so uncommunicative. When our reporter saw him Mr. Thomas thought the facts ought certainly be made known, in order that the people of Cardiff might know how well equipped their hospital is to deal with all kinds of mental cases and how truly it acts up to its title of mental hospital. He therefore,  consented to make the following statement:-

“Yes, it is perfectly true. It appears a patient was brought from the Leicester Asylum suffering from hysterical paralysis and melancholia. She had been bedridden in the Leicester Asylum for five years and a half, and was brought to Whitchurch on an ambulance, for she was quite unable to stand. Dr. Goodall, our medical superintendent, took the case in hand, and submitted the patient to a course of electric treatment. On the following day, to the surprise of everyone, she rose from her bed and clapped her hands for the joy at the return of strength in her limbs. I understand that she is still progressing, and is now assisting in the laundry with the ironing. The doctor is, naturally, very pleased with the case, and is taking a very deep interest in it, with a view to a complete cure. I understand that this woman was in Bridgend  Asylum prior to going to Leicester. Dr. Goodall is hoping that she will recover from the melancholia.”

The article appeared in the Western Mail on the 28th of July 1908

‘Escape from Whitchurch’ 29th June 1914 – South Wales Daily News

February 22nd, 2010

Search for Patient who was in The Titanic

The authorities of the City of Cardiff Mental Hospital have been much perturbed since Thursday by the escape of one of the patients from that institution.

John Anderson, a man of the seafaring class, of medium build, and about 40years of age, has been missing since that day, and all efforts to trace him both by the asylum officials and the police have proved futile. Fortunately Anderson is a man of quiet disposition, and is suffering from a shock sustained when the Titanic sank, being one of the crew of that ill fated ship and only left the vessel in the last boat-load of those who escaped.

Anderson was a native of Southampton, where he resided with his brother, and inquiries are now being made in that town in the hope that the man may be traced. It is believed that Anderson had spent some time in the Cardiff district selling mementoes of the Titanic, and is thought he may return to the locality with a view to earning a livelihood.

The Titanic crew records show surviving crew member, J. Anderson, aged 40, born in Newcastle.  When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 1 Couzens Court, (Southampton).  His last ship had been the Cape Colona. As an able bodied seaman he received monthly wages of £5.  Anderson was rescued in lifeboat 3.

Thanks to Tim Goosey for this post

Next Historical Society Meeting

February 10th, 2010

The next historical society meeting is on the 12th of February 2010

Whitchurch Hospital in the snow

January 16th, 2010



Whitchurch Hospital

Whitchurch Hospital

Taken last week when we had snow!

Cardiff City Mental Hospital – 1908

January 8th, 2010

On 15th of April 1908, the new Cardiff City Mental Hospital was opened at a cost of £350,000. It had capacity for 750 patients, 366 male and 414 female.  Prior to this, patients from the former County of Glamorgan were either admitted to the County Asylum at Bridgend or were decanted to institutions as far away as Brighton.