Posts Tagged ‘Photos’

Guest blog post from Tim Bennett, Quality Improvement/Governance Nurse with Mental Health Services for Older People (MHSOP)

December 2nd, 2016

The Summer House

What is the summer house? I can tell you what it means to me – it’s not just one thing!
It’s a school, a fear, a resting point, a home and playground too.  A community, a smoking shelter and a sanctuary for who?

mer House outside ward W1A

The summer house outside Ward West 1A, photo taken by Tim.

A School  – I remember –  warm sunny days, green trees, excitement at my new job and getting a qualification at the end of it.  Some of my learning on placement took place in the summer house. Debates and discussion with different members of the clinical team, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, OTs and social workers.  Books, pens and note pads – patients as case studies, illness and diagnosis, treatments with talking, with medication with ECT, psychiatry, psychology  – a bewildering array of topics and subjects.  What a place to learn! This was my classroom for a brief period of time.
A Fear – someone is missing from the ward or failed to return from leave – a search needs to be undertaken.  If there was any suicide risk we were told to look up into the trees, just in case. Check the summer house – under the benches, around each corner, look up, and check on top also.  Fortunately for me and gladly for the patients that were missing – I never did find anyone who had committed suicide.  It remained a fear of mine until we left Whitchurch, the thoughts remain with me even now that I no longer work there.
A resting point – for the years I worked in Tegfan day hospital, in the grounds of Whitchurch, one of the summer houses provided a midpoint between both buildings.  On our zigzag journeys, around the site, this was frequently a resting point for those with physical disabilities to stop and rest  – for others it was a point to sit and have a cigarette.  This was always a social occasion of those gathered – one thing in common, the hospital.  Patient, staff or visitor, there was a draw to sit and stop.  Was this truly asylum – inclusion, acceptance and safety?

Summer House between Whitchurch and Tegfan Day hospital taken in 2016

Summer House between Whitchurch and Tegfan Day hospital taken in 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A home and a play ground  – during my time on nights, I saw the summer house provided a playground for the wild life of the hospital – foxes, rabbits, squirrels, wood pigeons and magpies proliferate as do the bats and may bugs. At one time a place for the feral cats too.  Moths and all manner of insects – making it their home, their living room, their bedroom, their dining room, their bathroom and their playground.
A Community – they have formed throughout my 33 years a community meeting place, not just for people of the hospital but for the general community too.  Dog walkers, wanderers and especially kids – another resting place, a chatting shop, a play ground, a teenage lovers lane, a drug den for sales and use of illicit substances, a pub for underage drinking and smoking.
A smoking shelter – with the implementation of smoking bans the summer house became an illicit smoking shelter – staff would congregate, smoke, chat, catch up on the gossip of their own and especially others lives, arrange nights out, disclose personal achievements and failures, seeking support and kindness.

 

Summer house from Ward West 1A

Summer house from Ward West 1A, photo by Tim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A personal sanctuary – This is where through 33 years I’d sit and contemplate life, and from this make life decisions and consider how to handle situations that weren’t in my control – to begin with were my thoughts about psychiatry, personal issues of career plans, relationship plans and relationship ends, either of my making or those made by others.  These summer houses know all my life secrets, and I trust that the details will never be shared. They were and still are my sanctuary, my friend and my confidante.
My last resting point after my very last 12 hour night shift at Whitchurch, was the summer house.  I sat, lit a cigarette and reflected on 33 years – I saw myself and my colleagues and friends, through the decades – some no longer with us – but they were there with me for that final resting point.  Also came to mind my family, friends and relationships – they were present with me too.  I could see and hear them; they along with my memories above are my summer house, my special place.

Thank you to Tim Bennett

Guest blog post from Mark Doherty, Lead Nurse for Mental Health Services for Older People (MHSOP)

November 15th, 2016
A Lack Of Strangeness —A Personal Memory of Whitchurch Hospital
Since GoogleEarth accepted Wales into the international community by allowing it the unforgiving scrutiny of the high-resolution image, it has been possible to extend the godlike aerial gaze to the rooftops of Whitchurch Hospital, its spindly angular corridors, its abundance of redbrick, its green quadrants, rotting gazebos and of course the tower. I can’t help but think it must have been a Sunday when the photographing satellite went over: there are too few cars in the car park, for one thing, for it to be a weekday.
Google Earth screen shot

Google Earth screen shot

Otherwise, the image contains in detail all those elements that will be familiar to anyone who ever worked, or was admitted, or visited, or trespassed there. From about 1000 feet, it has a very particular shape; there are still many Edwardian psychiatric institutions in the country but, from space, nothing looks quite like Whitchurch Hospital.Arguably, less detail gives you more aesthetic information: in the old, low-resolution version one was forced to conclude that the blurred thing on the screen had an insectoid, or arachnoid , shape to it. There is no denying this: there is a main body, a thorax, a head, and a symmetrically-arranged number of jointed arms. This organic shape is apparent from ordinance survey maps too, and has always coloured my own view of the building and what it is, what it gets up to. But the main business of course, all the thinking, does not go on in the head—it happens in those clawed legs, where the wards are. One by one the legs are being tourniqueted-off: Whitchurch Hospital is a big rambling Edwardian psychiatric asylum, presided over by one of Enoch Powell’s isolated, brooding and majestic water towers and, as determined by Powell it is closing, forever.Once you start the process of closing down a hospital there is no turning back. The wards that close first manifest a kind of architectural gangrene, and the rot will spread throughout the building with no regard for the timescales of the planners. Wards West 5 and West 5a were already closed when I first worked here, thirty-one years ago: if you put your eye close the grimy glass in the door, and ignore the absence of floorboards, the bleached empty beer cans, the desiccated leaves, you can almost see what a National Health ward looked like in the 1950s. If there are ghosts, they are the ghosts of Dirk Bogarde and Hattie Jacques. But the Western extremity of the hospital has died along with the wards, and the communicating corridors are full of graffiti and smell of urine. Hattie Jacques would not have stood for this.The fact is that Whitchurch Hospital will not officially and completely close for a few months yet, but working in it is a vastly different experience from what it was only fifteen or twenty years ago. Then, there were two large nurses’ homes in addition to the medical quarters, and the hospital had its own social club, none of which was considered compatible with the vision of a modern mental health service. Undoubtedly in the early part of the century those nurses’ homes would have been segregated male and female, but in my time (there was a lot of Duran Duran and Boy George about; we drank cider and cheap wine when the Tube was on in the East Homes Television Room) the culture was emphatically a mixed one. There were parties. There was much commerce with the nearest pub, the Hollybush, which closed just in time for the hospital canteen to open for the night shift, where the lovely Beryl would serve sausage and chips.In fact, my office now is what once was the television room of the East Homes. I won’t go into any of the hallucinatory images from the past that now continually haunt me as I sit at my desk, super-imposed on the present-day anaglypta, but it is safe to say that nurses’ homes, television rooms and all, can be fun places to be. If there are ghosts in my office, rest assured they are all having a good time. One of the mildest memories I have is of leaning out of the window with a guitar in the middle of the night, singing the song American Pie, and waking up the patients on Ward East 1. I was young, we had been drinking. The night air on the other side of that window frame was warm and fragrant, incidentally: it was the summer of 1983 and Whitchurch Hospital was a glorious, complicated, redbrick building enfolded in thick greenery. I would wake with a hangover, reach for my fags, and go to work on whatever ward on which I happened to be placed. But work on the wards was really only an incidental sideline—what was really important was this vibrant social life I was experiencing in this liberated commune that happened to be a nurses’ home in the middle of a psychiatric hospital. As I say, I was young: it had not yet dawned on me that the real life of the hospital was what was happening out there on the ends of those spider-limbs, in the wards. I was living in a pleasant old building in a sort of leafy village; occasionally I was required to go to work.We were, of course, a little culture co-existing with other cultures in the same way that radio stations can occupy the same electromagnetic spectrum and yet hardly interfere with each other at all. There was, for instance, a whole army of professionals including psychiatrists, occupational therapists and nurses, trying to provide a range of services to people with mental health problems. There was a taxonomy of clinical areas, not all of which has survived: Acute, Long-Stay, Medium Long-Stay, Psycho-geriatrics. We can hardly be surprised that that last one hasn’t made it to 2014: when I first saw the dangling NHS green Perspex sign pointing to the Psycho-geriatric ward (I was nineteen years old, I hadn’t a clue what it meant) it was all I could do not to think of Anthony Perkins. We soon found out what Psycho-geriatrics really meant, though, and in a way it was no less disturbing: I was nineteen, and here were people who were dementing, whose very essence was being drawn away maliciously by some organic process. I was profoundly affected to learn that I would actually be obliged to feed people, and indeed one person who trained with me saw this happening one day and did not return the next.Many of the staff were from families that had long had a working relationship with Whitchurch Hospital. The Nursing Assistants, in particular, were the sons and daughters of other Whitchurch Nursing Assistants. Students and even qualified nurses were viewed as fly-by-nights. These NAs were often from north of the M4, from the valleys, where, at that time, a whole other culture was operating, and a malignant one at that: those NAs would be from families where somebody was working in the pits. Or not, as the case may be: it was 1983, 1984, the height of the time when Thatcher was making her point about precisely how important individuals and communities were in her particular vision of the future. That sense of grievance and militancy was seeping into the wards: those Nursing Assistants, it wasn’t a good time to mess with them.There was, of course, another culture in there, with its own inalienable point on the spectrum: that of the patients. Although this was a really whole range of cultures: the patients on the Acute wards inhabited a sort of existential bridge between the hospital, and real life, because they were people who had jobs, wives, children, their own houses; it was just that something had temporarily gone wrong with them, somehow. And what experts we were at categorising precisely what it was that had gone wrong, and, by extension, categorising the people themselves: this person is a MANIC DEPRESSIVE, this one is a SCHIZOPHRENIC, this one over here (on the “secure” ward, no doubt) a PSYCHOPATH (Tony Perkins again). How blithely we accepted the diagnostic labels dispensed by our medically qualified leaders, without thought for the effect this would have on the individuals. We’re better at this now, but only slightly. And please don’t assume that I think that mental illness does not exist: it does. I just don’t think we know as much about it as we think we do. The other thing about patients on Acute wards: they had visitors—evidence of the temporary nature of their illness.Unless it was not temporary. If whatever it was that ailed them did not go away, then they probably had a “chronic” illness, and would then graduate to a medium long-stay ward for “rehabilitation” which, frankly, was for life. When people talk about institutionalisation, this is what they mean. People who were absorbed into this category would join a pantheon of “characters” that extended in time back to the birth of Whitchurch Hospital. Any old psychiatric hospital has its “chronics”—people so damaged firstly by their illness and secondly by the soul-destroying patterns of existence that a psychiatric hospital imposes, that they are compelled to conduct themselves in endless circles of repetitive and bizarre behaviour. It took us a long time to understand that it was the hospitals themselves that were making this happen. This is why we try not to admit people at all, any more, in case we contort and distort them the way we used to. It is far better to let real life contort and distort people instead.

Once, one of the “characters” died of old age, in his bed. His heart stopped. I heard the emergency call, and was told to rush up the stairs with the defibrillator, which in those days was the size of a fridge. The cables and paddles fell off and got tangled in my legs. When I finally got to the “chronic” ward it was, of course, too late. The ward staff were stricken with grief. “Good old_____” said one of the Nursing Assistants, “…he was a perfect patient, he was. He never shit the bed once.” You have to believe me when I tell you that the staff were genuinely upset by the death, and that the Nursing Assistant’s comment was meant as an expression of his admiration for the old guy. With such modest levels of acceptable behaviour, it is hardly surprising that we created a group of patients whose behaviour was totally unfit, and never would be fit, to survive in the outside world.

So we don’t do that anymore. In fact we hardly ever admit anybody at all, if we can help it; and even when we do it is for the shortest time possible, lest the toxins of the institution affect them. This is undoubtedly a good thing, and yet I worry, because I have a personal conviction that the outside world is as much a deforming institution as Whitchurch Hospital and its like ever was.

It is true that, as with many old institutions, Whitchurch was built on the outskirts of the city so that the unpalatable fact of mental illness could be kept at a distance and not cause offence. It is also true that the city then advanced to encompass the area of Coryton, and for most of the last hundred years the denizens of Whitchurch and Coryton have had to live with the redbrick spider and its green-domed water tower looming over them. It is fair to say that the local residents have coped quite well with this terrible burden. People who do not live in such circumstances are faintly discomfited by the idea—it must be like living next to a high security prison or a nuclear reactor: you are always waiting for the breach of protocol that leads to the escape of convict or radiation, or lunatic. But the locals in Whitchurch know the same thing that the locals in Cefn Coed or St. Cadocs also know: that the presence of an old psychiatric hospital in your village means precisely nothing; it is almost boring, because when the in-patients come out to shop or visit the pub or bank, it is a complete non-event. There is a disappointing lack of strangeness about those who have been diagnosed as mentally ill.

But people want it to be strange. Back in 1983 I had been out on the town one evening and had taken a taxi back to the Homes. Somewhere along North Rd., Drive said to me: “So you lives in Whitchurch ‘Ospital, then, is it?”

I replied in the affirmative. Drive narrowed his eyes a bit, gave this some thought, then asked his question: “Something I’ve always wondered about that place,” he said, “do you ‘ave much trouble with ’em howling in the night?

I replied in the negative. He was clearly disappointed. He wanted, no doubt, tales of awesome lunacy, but I had none to tell.

Here is another memory from 1983. Every Saturday night, the Great Hall would be pulsing with pop music and chatter, and there would be a beery odour. Not a patients’ social function, not a staff reunion. The corridors would be full of drunken, unfamiliar people. Whitchurch Hospital was hired out on Saturday nights for wedding receptions; now, almost a quarter of a century on there must be at least some of those marriages surviving, with their memories of one humid and crapulent night in Whitchurch. It does seem an odd thing to do, and it hasn’t happened for some time, and yet only last week I was driving through the hospital’s main entrance and had to halt the car because of two young men in kilts posing with a bride and groom against a wedding car full of flowers and ribbons, a professional photographer snapping athletically away. How did people come to that decision? Where shall we have the reception, love? Where do you fancy for the photos? Castell Coch? Cathays Park? Cardiff Bay? I know, how about…

I suppose it just supports my contention that a psychiatric hospital is an ordinary place. Nothing, as Phillip Larkin said, like something, happens anywhere. And it’s as good a place as any to hold a wedding reception.

I moved out of Whitchurch for several years. Of course it wasn’t the same when I came back. It was falling to bits for one thing. Like the coal industry, it no longer has a place in somebody’s particular vision of the future, and so it has been neglected and is showing the terrible signs of that neglect.

As a Mental Health Professional whose teeth are getting quite long, I must applaud the closure of Whitchurch Hospital as a symbolic sweeping aside of the ancient asylum culture, clearing the way for a new build that will be fit for humans to inhabit. And I do applaud it. But it will be an ordinary building, the new one, a competent building; you and I know that it will possess not one hundredth of the aesthetic power and romance of Whitchurch Version 1.0. It will lack strangeness. Some of the old building is “listed”, and therefore parts of it will continue to exist to accommodate the flatlets or shopping centre or office facilities that are planned for the site, but it will be unrecognisable. It is difficult to see how the village of Whitchurch itself will retain its sense of character, unless the Water Tower is to remain.

I moved to Whitchurch Hospital to start my Registered Mental Nurse training when I was nineteen. A little room in the East Homes was pretty much my first experience of independent living.

Nurses Homes April 2016 Copyright: Mark Doherty

Nurses Homes April 2016
Copyright: Mark Doherty

But the nurse education went on in a building on the other side of the site, in a squat 1950s block. So my lessons were spent with a panoramic view of the hospital and the grounds. I started my training in February 1983. I was overwhelmed by two things: the little jars of real foetuses in the glass-fronted cabinet at the back of the classroom (I have never been able to work out what they had to do with psychiatry), and the view of the hospital with the trees in front of it. In February, the trees were bare and exhibited intricate branch-networks against a white sky, like the diagrams of bronchi, arteries and nerves I was being shown in anatomy lessons. At the age of nineteen, I thought I had been transported into the heart of a massive poem, and am still haunted by that time. If the new flats or offices find that they have a ghost, it may well be mine.

 

Thank you to Mark Doherty, follow Mark on twitter (@markdoherty1)

 

Exhibition at The National Museum, Cardiff

November 1st, 2016
Exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff

Exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff

Exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff

Exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff

We were invited to take part in the Re-Imagining Challenging History conference by Dr Jenny Kidd, lecturer at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural studies and Dr Rachelle Barlow, School of Music, Cardiff University.

Elen Phillips, Principal Curator Contemporary & Community History at St Fagans joned us with the amazing tablecloth made in 1917 at Whitchurch Hospital.

Huge thank you to everyone who made it a great experience including Alan Vaughan Hughes from Special Collections and Archives at Cardiff University, Eleri Evans from the Museum, Jenny Kidd, Rachelle Barlow, Elen Phillips and all those who shared their stories of Whitchurch Hospital with us.

1917 tablecloth made in Whitchurch Hospital

1917 tablecloth made in Whitchurch Hospital

Exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff

Exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff

Tea Party Photos

May 26th, 2016

Here are the photos that Craig Harper from Media Resources took on the 11th of March. Thank you to the Mental Health Clinical Board for permission to put on the website.

It was a lovely afternoon of meeting up with old friends and colleagues, thank you to all who came along.

Recognise anyone? Do get in touch if you were there or recognise some faces.

Lovely tea in the dining room

Lovely tea in the dining room

Photopgraphs from WW1

November 8th, 2014
Verandah at Whitchurch Hospital during WW1

Verandah at Whitchurch Hospital during WW1

Richard Berry during the 1920ies

Richard Berry during the 1920s

Whitchurch Hospital Chapel during WW1

Whitchurch Hospital Chapel during WW1

Back in August a comment was left on the website by Jon Langley:

Hello,
I could not find a contact e-mail on your website but would you like a scanned picture of the Hospital taken I think around 1916? The shot is of the Verandah and is entitled M.I., Military Hospital, Whitchurch, Glam. I also have a shot of the Church.
Jon

Jon’s mother recently passed away and in her photo collection were a number of postcards that his grandfather, Richard Berry, had left to her.

Richard Herbert Berry was a solider in WW1 and was invalided out of the service at the end of 1915. Jon believes he may have spent some time recuperating at Whitchurch as there are 2 postcards of the hospital and 4 of the city. Richard was a Mancunian and a member of the 7th Bn Manchester Regiment:

http://www.themanchesters.org/7th%20batt.htm

It would seem logical that’s how he came to have the postcards, but they are not annotated.

Jon does not believe his grandfather is in any of the pictures.
According to his military records, he returned from Egypt on the 5th February 1916 and was discharged from the service on the 26th May 1916. If he spent time at
Whitchurch, it was possibly during that 3 month period.

Jon’s grandfather’s full name is Richard Herbert Berry, born 17th February 1879. See photo above of him taken around 1920.

 

If anyone has any information about Richard, we would be grateful to add it to his family history profile.

I wonder if the soldiers at Whitchurch and maybe other hospitals were given postcards as a memento of their time or possibly the Hospital sold them?

Does anyone have any further information?

Thank you so much to Jon for this post and photos and a special thank you to Richard Herbert Berry for keeping the photos

 

 


			

World War I Tablecloth

September 30th, 2014

I was having a look through my Twitter feed one day and came across a tweet about a tablecloth from a Cardiff Hospital during WW1 – This got me curious to find out more as Whitchurch was used as a Hospital during WW1 – The Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital. The initial tweet came from Elen Phillips, Principal Curator at St Fagans for Contemporary and Community History back in January. Following a few exchanges of tweets and then emails we realised that the tablecloth was indeed from Whitchurch and had the year 1917 embroidered on it together with names of staff – Matron Raynes and soldiers.

The tablecloth has a very interesting story as told by Ray Holman in his blog:

http://www.costume-designer.co.uk/therapy-cloth/

Elen kindly offered the Historical Society members an opportunity to visit St Fagans and see the tablecloth which some of us took up. It is a beautiful cloth and has many staff names on it including Col Goodall and Matron Raynes.

Some photos of the tablecloth after St Fagans restored it:

Restored WW1 Tablecloth

Restored WW1 Tablecloth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restored WW1 Tablecloth

These are some of the names that can be seen on the tablecloth:

J. Drummond

W Jones 4th Worcesters

Dr H Thorps RFA

E. W. Ilford

D Kozroski 4th (?)G M. Rifles

Corp J. Cork 2nd Grenadier Guards

Pte F. Astin (?)5th Staffs

Pte S. Bradshaw 1st Lancs JVS

O. Standish 4th KOYL

S. Walker RFA

Pte Howard 24th HF

H. Bentley 11th Cheshire

Pte E. Sheffield 7th Kings Own

Pte J [can’t decipher surname) 2nd Royal Sussex

L/cpl. F. Richardson 8th Lincolns

G. E. Head 2nd Middlesex

(?)Selfield 1st Coldstream Guards

Pte J. F. Davies RAMC

(?)W. Cooper 14th Northumberland Fusiliers

Can you see any other names? If you have further information please get in touch.

Thank you to all involved in this story especially Elen Phillips. Photos courtesy of St Fagans.

Does anyone recognise the World War 1 Hospital in this photo?

July 8th, 2014

The photo is part of the St Fagans National History Museum WW1 collection which is currently being digitised. It was given to St Fagans in the 1990ies but its location is unknown. It may not be a Cardiff hospital but if you recognise it please get in touch. Could it be Whitchurch?

Where is this photo taken?

Where is this photo taken?

Thanks to Elen Phillips, Principal Curator: Contemporary & Community History at St Fagans,  for the photo and information.

I came across this website which gives some further information about  hospitals used during WW1:

http://www.1914-1918.net/hospitals_uk.htm

The military hospitals at home

The flow of casualties from the various theatres of war soon overwhelmed the existing medical facilities in the United Kingdom, just as it did the recently established bases in France and Flanders. Many civilian hospitals and large buildings were turned over to military use. This listing is by no means complete.

Wales

3rd Western General. A TF General Hospital in Cardiff. 38 officers and 2626 other ranks. The Cardiff Infirmary became headquarters to the 3rd Western General Military Hospital, overseeing all the other military hospitals in the region.
Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital. Formerly the Cardiff City Asylum at Whitchurch. 61 officers and 839 other ranks.
– partly used for mental patients (14 officers and 416 ORs) from September 1917 to December 1919.
Kinmel Park Camp (Rhyl). A hospital established at an army base. 890 beds.
– a specialist venereal disease unit opened here after the Armistice
Prince of Wales Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers, Cardiff. 66 beds for men from Wales, Monmouthshire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
Officers’ neurological hospital, Nannau, Dolgelly. Established by June 1918.

City of Cardiff. The Mental Hospital. Third Annual Report for the Year 1910

June 3rd, 2014
Third Annual Report 1910

Third Annual Report
1910

Third Annual Report

Third Annual Report

LIST OF OFFICERS.

MEDICAL SUPERINTENDENT:

EDWIN GOODALL, M.D.Lond., B.S., F.R.C.P., M.R.C.S.

SENIOR ASSISTANT MEDICAL OFFICER:

EDWARD BARTON WHITE, M.R.C.S.Eng., L.R.C.P.

RESEARCH CHEMIST:

ROBERT VINER STANFORD, Ph.D.Kiel., M.Sc.Birm., B.Sc.Lond.

PATHOLOGIST:

HAROLD ALFRED SCHÖLBERG, M.B., Lond., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.S., D.P.H.

CLERK AND STEWARD:

T.D. MORGAN.

CLERK TO THE VISITORS:

J.L. WHEATLEY (Town Clerk).

TREASURER TO THE VISITORS:

JOHN ALLCOCK, F.S.A.A., (City Treasurer and Controller).

ANNUAL REPORT

OF THE

Committee of Visitors

For the Year ending 31st December, 1910;

Settled at a Meeting of the Committee held at the Mental

Hospital on the 25th day of May, 1911, in pursuance

of section 190 of the Lunacy Act, 1890.

State and Condition of the Institution.

The maintenance of the Institution continues to be entirely satisfactory. The equipment and fabric have both been kept in thorough order and repair.

The laying out of the ornamental grounds, including the approach-drive has been completed. The exercising gardens of the patients and the other ornamental grounds are well provided with trees and shrubs, so that it will in future only be necessary to maintain them at their existing standard.

The kitchen-garden is able to maintain a satisfactory supply of vegetables to the patients and staff: the articles supplied, as also the produce from the farm, are detailed in the report of the Medical Superintendent. The farm and garden account shows a credit balance.

Amongst the more important work carried out by the staff of the Institution are the making of a road for heavy traffic from the entrance to the Steward’s Yard, whereby the Avenue of the Entrance is spared; the equipment of the Chemical Research Laboratory, with the necessary fixtures, benches, tables, cupboards, fume-and-combustion chambers, steam, water and gas services, extraction fan and motors; installation of telephone services from the main building to the farm; erection of a potato house; fixing baths for warm bath treatment in the general spray-bath rooms; installation of high-frequency electric plant for treatment; repairs to Velindre Lodge,  which is now habitable and rented to one of the Attendants; installation of brush-making plant in one of the shops; fixing additional hydro extractor in the laundry; erection of a second weaving loom in the upholsterer’s shop to enable cloth-making to be carried out on a larger scale.

The various workshops are found capable of dealing efficiently with the work of the Institution.

The main farm road from the entrance lodge remains to be completed, and a road to the farm from the main building has still to be made.

The underground cables for telephonic communication and for fire-alarm purposes to the houses of the resident officials have been found to work unsatisfactorily, and have been partially replaced by overhead wires, a work which is in process of completion.

Accommodation Provided and Available.

Third Annual Report

Third Annual Report

On April 1st, 1911, 39 female patients were received from the Salop and Montgomery Asylum on contract with the Montgomery County Council at charge of 13/5 per head per week.

The average number daily resident during the year was 682 as against 673 in 1909, or an increase of only 9 (3 males and 6 females), which is satisfactory.

The keeping down of the numbers is mainly due to the high recovery rate (46.7% – 40% for males, 56% for females), associated with the fact that the period of detention has been short in a large proportion of cases, as shown in the report of the Medical Superintendent. Less than 8% returned and remained of discharges in 1908-1910 inclusive. The period is in the nature of things, still a short one. As many patients as possible have also been sent out relieved to the care of their friends. There can be no doubt that this, the chief aim and object of the Mental Hospital, is promoted by the provision of a liberal scientific equipment and facilities in laboratories and clinical apparatus, and encouragement of workers competent to use such. Bu such means high medical, and, reflexly, nursing ideals are fostered and stimulated, and it is upon the maintenance of these that the promotion of recovery is mainly based.

The above is an extract from the annual report written by Morgan Thomas, Chairman of the Visiting Committee

Inside ‘The Asylum’: Eerie images of abandoned Victorian hospital

May 6th, 2014
  • St John’s Asylum in Lincolnshire – which has been derelict since 1990 – was known for its electric shock treatment
  • Photographs captured by student Jonathon Tattersall after he visited now-derelict hospital which was built in 1852
  • Administration of hospital passed to the NHS in 1948 and by 1960s it was known by final name of St John’s Hospital

With paint peeling from the walls and doors left to rot, these eerie photographs provide a fascinating insight inside an abandoned mental hospital.

St John’s Asylum in Lincolnshire was known for its electric shock treatment – and rife with stories about inmates committing suicide in their padded cells.

These pictures were captured by student Jonathon Tattersall, 22, after he visited the now-derelict hospital to get a closer look of what remained inside.

Eerie: St John's Asylum in Lincolnshire was known for its electric shock treatment - and was rife with stories about inmates committing suicide in their padded cells

Thank you to Martin Ford and Tim Goosey for this post

Sympathetic Development of Disused Asylums

January 16th, 2014

This is not Laura’s last post but should be read before Mental Health and Museums which is the final post, sorry for the incorrect order.

As in my previous post, the unsympathetic development of asylum architecture can very often relegate the history of an institution to a few folders in a county archive, with complete denial of the building’s former use a common marketing trope, as at Princess Park Manor. As an aside, I am currently living in London, and regularly see properties at the Manor – Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum, as was – advertised in the Evening Standard. I have never once seen any mention of the building’s original use. However, in the face of the alternative – demolition or collapse – perhaps development is the only possible route to survival for many of our listed hospitals.

 

One development in the south of England has proved to be much more sympathetic. Moorhaven Village, formerly Plymouth County Asylum, was developed as a set of homes within the footprint of the hospital, as far as possible (there were a few minor alterations to facilitate access). Moorhaven’s developers were able to use the hospital’s architectural features, for example, its south-facing design (a requirement of all asylums, as mandated by the County Asylum Act 1845) and it’s arrowhead formation, to split the site into individual family homes, without altering the footprint of the building. The developers established protective covenants ensuring the uniformity of the building’s exterior in the future, and have created a management company, funded by the sale of the properties and a small service charge, which protects the building as a whole.

 

Moorhaven is situated in a National Park. This is significant; it provided additional protection to the hospital that others have not had. Location is a key factor in preserving these sites – Princess Park Manor is unlikely to have survived even in its current form, were it not within greater London, where sympathetic conversion (often more expensive than demolition and rebuilding) will return a greater yield.

 

One example of a hospital that has had no such protection, Talgarth Asylum, has been extensively damaged by vandalism and neglect. The developers of Moorhaven had been asked to look at developing the site along the same lines, but the found it to be damaged beyond repair. In an interview for my dissertation, one developer stated “In its current state, I would value it at zero”.

 

In this regard, I think Whitchurch Hospital does have a certain measure of protection. It is not nearly so isolated as Talgarth, and sits within a relatively affluent borough of Cardiff. It’s also bounded by the Melingriffith and Church Road conservation areas, and is of course, a listed building (although many of the Asylums left to dereliction have also been listed). Hopefully, this means that in the event of the hospital’s closure, over-development or negligent dereliction can be avoided.

October 2013

October 2013

 

In my next and final post on the topic, I will talk a bit more about preserving the history of the hospital as well as the building. Whitchurch has not only played a significant role in the development of mental health care in Wales, but it has also been important to the whole of Britain, hosting many international research conferences and pioneering new techniques in the early-twentieth century. It has also, perhaps most importantly, played a significant role in the lives of its staff, its patients, and the local community for over 100 years.

To find out more about Moorhaven Village, visit www.moorhaven.org.uk

Thanks again to Laura for her guest posts