Archive for the ‘News’ category

BBC programmes – Peace of Mind

March 1st, 2013

Back in December there was a series of three excellent programs on the BBC focusing on Whitchurch Hospital and the good work that goes on.Unfortunately the full programs are  unavailable on BBC iPlayer now but there are seven clips, see links below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01mtksl

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p96db

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pd7wt

There are also some photos available on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-20606730

Does anyone know where the photo of the pathology lab came from?

 

 

 

Wales on line – look back at Whitchurch photos

January 16th, 2013

Came across these photos this week of Whitchurch and there are a couple of the hospital:

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/multimedia/news/2013/01/15/look-back-at-whitchurch-91466-32604374/#2

 

 

 

Whitchurch Hospital Fireworks Display

November 5th, 2012

Does anyone have fond memories of past fireworks displays at the hospital?

On Twitter tonight the displays at the hospital were remembered as great events.

Please get in touch with any memories and/or photos

Whitchurch Hospital Nurses Reunion

September 13th, 2012

If you are interested please get in touch with us through the website

Eve and Jean’s visit to Whitchurch

May 25th, 2012

Eve Evans first made contact with me through this website in November of last year, she was a student nurse at Whitchurch from 1948-1951 when she left Cardiff. Until today Eve had not been back to Whitchurch. Jean Williams was also a student nurse at Whitchurch from 1949-1952, she went on to work as a qualified nurse and retired in 1975.

Jean and Eve

I had been to visit Eve at her home in Llandeilo earlier this year and we had said then we would try and arrange a visit to Whitchurch when her daughter, Jane, could bring her.

We started the visit by walking down from the front of the hospital to the canteen to share some memories of old times, then moving up to W1A (F1A) to have a look at the displays and some of the old record books from when Eve and Jean were students.

We then made out way to the boardroom for lunch with some members

Eve, Jean Mike and Lynne

of the historical society. Tim, Mike and Lynne were able to join us and we had a lovely time discussing Eve and Jean’s time at Whitchurch.

After lunch we went to visit the ECT department where Kara and Karen explained how the treatment is given today. Eve and Jean shared with us how ECT used to be given and the procedure has changed significantly.

The weather today could not of been better and we walked around the outside of W5 (F5) as Eve wanted to find the window she mentions in her Whitchurch memories:

“At one stage I was allocated a room on the gallery of F5. This ward was
alongside the main drive on to which the windows, including that of my room,
opened. But someone had slipped up and omitted to notice that the window to my
room fully opened up. Throughout the hospital as far as we knew, the sash windows
of all wards and corridors accessed by the patients were blocked so that they would
open not more than a couple of inches. This was obviously to prevent any patients
absconding by that means. My window was therefore not subject to the ‘curfew’, and
once the word got around there was traffic through that window throughout the night.
I would hear a whispered “Eve!” and rouse myself sufficiently to open the window,
which was about five feet from the outside ground, and help the latecomer in. My job
would then be to ostensibly go to the lavatory outside the ward, but in fact, to see if
the coast was clear for my visitor to return to her own bedroom. Sometimes they
would have to wait for what seemed like ages before they could leave me to return to
my sleep, and some nights were spent with two or three of us in my bed.”

Eve and Jean outside F5 (West 5)

Eve and Jean outside F5 (West 5)

 

To finish off the visit we went up to the Divisional offices as this is where Eve and Jean used to have their lecturers as student nurses, a wonderful venue with a lovely view over the bowling green.

 

Thank you to all we helped with this visit and made it a lovely day.

The Royal Hamadryad Hospital – Cardiff nurse seeks help with literary voyage

May 7th, 2012

H.M.S. Hamadryad

http://www.newswales.co.uk/?section=Health&F=1&id=24359

A Cardiff health worker is setting sail on a journey to uncover the history of one of the city’s famous ships and is asking for help.

Steve Maddern, a Community Mental Health Nurse with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s Community Mental Health Team, is based in the Hamadryad Centre in Butetown. The building is named after a 19th Century hospital ship, H.M.S. Hamadryad, which was berthed close to where it stands today.

The ship treated the many sailors who came through the city’s port during the industrial revolution. When it was decommissioned a hospital was built which today serves as the Hamadryad Centre.

Steve, from Maesteg, is researching a book he intends to write on HMS Hamadryad and the Royal Hamadryad Hospital.

He said: “Cardiff in the middle 1800’s was a very interesting place. It was the centre of the coal industry that fired the Industrial Revolution, and its port served ships that traversed the whole world.

“With this came the problems of poverty, crime, and of course, disease. With hospital care being a valuable resource, there was concern expressed about the welfare of the sailors that came in and out of the port of Cardiff.”

Steve said that the HMS Hamadryad was drafted in to provide care before being abandoned and a hospital built nearby.

He said: “The hospital eventually became used for the general population, and only closed in the middle of the first decade of the 21st Century. Stories abound of the hospital, and staff who have worked there all recount the stories of the ‘ghosts’ that inhabited one of the wards.

“The building continues to serve the people of Cardiff, and now houses the Mental Health services serving the southern parts of Cardiff.

“I am currently researching for a book that I am writing and I would love to speak to any former members of staff at the hospital, or anyone with any memories or information about the hospital.”

Contact Steve on 07970 973929 or at steve.maddern@wales.nhs.uk.

Thank you to Dr Ian Beech for this post.

Broadmoor: ‘Fantastic’ views but would people pay to visit?

April 9th, 2012

Broadmoor Hospital

In Oxford you can spend the night in a hotel that was a former prison, featuring high barred windows, converted cell rooms and prison walkways.

In Karosta Prison Hotel in Latvia, the former KGB jail advertises itself as “unfriendly, unheated, uncomfortable and open all year round”.

Now, West London Mental Health NHS Trust hopes to interest a developer in taking on its old Victorian buildings at Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital, to create a hotel and housing.

The buildings at Crowthorne in Berkshire were declared “unfit for purpose” by the Commission For Healthcare Improvement in 2003.

The trust hopes the development of the buildings will fund a £250m redevelopment of the remaining facilities at the hospital.

The homes and hotel rooms would be just a few hundred metres away from the new psychiatric unit, but will be screened by trees and outside the high security perimeter.

Fresh air

The trust said it was “confident” a buyer could be found.

The Victorian Society, which originally had qualms about the plans, now supports the trust’s decision after visiting the site in January.

Ian Dungavell, director of the society, said he was keen to protect the hospital’s Grade II Victorian buildings, designed by prison architect Joshua Jebb.

“Over the years, the government has sold off a lot of old army bases and hospitals which just fell to pieces,” he said.

“We don’t want that to happen to Broadmoor. It has a lot of potential to be used for a hotel and housing”.

One reason Broadmoor Hospital may be more suited to be converted to a hotel lies in the attitudes to mental illness when it was built.

When it opened in 1863 there were none of the drug treatments we are familiar with today.

Victorian patients enjoyed a regime of rest and occupational therapy, and were expected to benefit from fresh air, sunshine and spending time outdoors.

In the early years of Broadmoor, inmates formed a self-sufficient community with a farm, kitchen garden and sports fields.

“The views from Broadmoor are fantastic, across very nice landscape,” said Dr Dungavell.

Broadmoor was built in landscaped grounds in Crowthorne

‘Good location’

“The windows in the former Oxford prison are quite small, but those at Broadmoor seem to be bigger.

“It could be converted relatively easily.

“It’s a good solid building, which has been well-maintained and is well-lit and well-ventilated.”

Dr Dungavell said large buildings such as prisons and hospitals naturally lent themselves to use as hotels with some modifications.

Each hotel room in the A-wing of the Malmaison Hotel in Oxford has been converted from three adjoining prison cells, and features original iron cell doors and barred windows.

“Broadmoor has got a good location, not far from Heathrow, near to a golf course,” added Dr Dungavell.

“Looking around I thought Broadmoor was much less noisy than your standard prison, so even though the hotel would be near the hospital, people wouldn’t be affected by noise.”

However, some may associate the name Broadmoor with some of the hospital’s more infamous patients, including the “Yorkshire Ripper” Peter Sutcliffe.

Dr Dungavell admitted this aspect might make some hotel guests nervous.

“It has more potential for a hotel than we thought, but if you were strolling in the grounds on a light summer evening and you heard some sort of noise in the grounds, you might be scared,” he said.

Post from the BBC news website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-17610985

Victorian Broadmoor revealed in free online book, well worth a read – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-15878353

http://www.victoriansociety.org.uk/

Another Student visit

March 29th, 2012

Yesterday morning we had another group visit by Dr Tracey Loughran, lecturer in History at Cardiff University, this time with some second year History students.

We made a start with Tim’s talk on the history of Whitchurch with Dr Ian Beech also sharing his knowlege with the group.

Tim's presentation

Ian telling us about the Dr Goodall years

I then gave a presentation on the history of drug treatments in psychiatry.

The group

 

Ian in full flow

We then moved from the old West ward to the main hall where we heard about the concerts that used to take place and saw the future plans for accommodation.

The weather was fantastic so we finished off the morning with a tour around the outside of the hospital

Thank you to all who came along and those who helped make it another great visit.

 

 

 

Dangers facing Disused Asylums

March 22nd, 2012

Part 1: Trespass and Neglect

One of the things that spurred on my research into Whitchurch ahead of its closure is the fate of the many listed asylums in the UK that have been horribly neglected. It’s a real shame to see these buildings come to harm, but no group of listed buildings has been so poorly treated as historic mental hospitals.

Cane Hill

Arson can be a huge problem, as it has been here at Cane Hill, Croydon, as is vandalism. Large sites spread over many acres are easy targets for thieves and vandals. The spike in prices of scrap metal have seen all kinds of buildings and structures pillaged for lead roofing, pipework and even memorial plaques. Large sites are often left with only one security guard to protect them, which simply isn’t enough to guarantee the safety of the building and its contents.  In addition to these issues, the simple fact of leaving a Victorian or Edwardian building empty without regular maintenance can be the death knell for these structures; it is much easier to argue the case for demolition if a building is deemed unsafe, even though that may be through owner neglect.
Trespassing, however, cannot be condemned entirely. There is very little opportunity for the public to engage with the history of residential mental healthcare, and very often, people are drawn to abandoned asylums for this reason. These people are called ‘urban explorers’, and I spoke to them through internet forums for my research. They had very interesting perspectives on the history of these buildings, and how access to them is very important. Some argued that a museum in an asylum would discourage them from visiting, but most agreed that the reason that abandoned hospitals feature so prominently in urban exploration communities (every website I looked at had a whole section devoted to asylums) is that there is simply no other way to engage with them.

One of the most impressive by-products of urban exploration is the photography of explorers. They take some fantastic photographs of these buildings, and in many cases have provided the best record of demolished, vandalised, and fire-damaged asylums you can find.

West Park

West Park

To see some more great examples of this work, visit:

http://www.28dayslater.co.uk
http://urbanexplorers.net/
http://www.urbexforums.co.uk/

Hopefully, Whitchurch will never have to worry about the issues of neglect or trespass, as the examples above have done. What it may need to be very concerned about, however, is the threat of unsympathetic development, which I will explain in Dangers facing Disused Asylums, Part 2.

 

Thank you to Laura for this post

Interesting Radio programme

February 11th, 2012

Available on the iplayer

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01bwmvt/The_Life_Scientific_Robin_Murray/ – Psychiatrist Robin Murray tells Jim why he has changed his mind about the cause of schizophrenia.

A very interesting programme especially for those interested in schizophrenia and psychosis, certainly makes you think.

Thanks to Anton Faulconbridge for this post