Repton Park, formerly Claybury Hospital

Claybury Mental hospital, or London County Lunatic Asylum, Ilfor
Aerial view of Claybury, undated. (posted on flickr by Jeroen Komen and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Repton Park at Woodford Bridge in Essex is a large housing estate that has been created on the site of the former Claybury Hospital, using many of the former hospital buildings and keeping the new buildings to a minimum, so as to retain the open southern aspect and the original south elevation of the main hospital complex. (The aerial photograph above shows the western half as it appears in 2015 on Bing.com) The hospital closed in 1997 and it was originally intended to build much denser housing on the site.

Claybury Hospital was recorded as part of the RCHME’s Hospitals project and was visited in August 1991 by three of the project team (myself included) together with our photographer, Derek Kendall, and a student who worked with us over the summer.

Claybury was built as the fourth County Pauper Lunatic Asylum for Middlesex. It was designed on an échelon plan by G. T. Hine in 1888 and built in 1889-93. The site included the modest country house, Claybury Hall, of c.1790, which was retained and extended for private patients. It was an extensive complex of largely two- and three-storey asylum buildings linked by single-storey enclosed corridors, constructed of red brick with terracotta ornament, dominated by the central water tower.

This view of Claybury Hall was photographed by Lil Shepherd in September 2010 and is licensed under  CC BY 2.0 There is a painting of the house in the Government Art Collection  painted c.1800 by Abraham Pether

A competition was held for the design in 1887 and Hine was selected from among seven specially invited architects. A notable and prolific designer of asylums, he had been responsible for planning the borough asylum for his native Nottingham (1877). It was following his success in the Claybury competition that Hine moved to London and subsequently was appointed consulting architect to the Commissioners in Lunacy for England. [The Builder, 5 May 1916, 331]

L0023315 Claybury Asylum, ground floor plan
Claybury Asylum, ground floor plan from H. C. Burdett, Hospitals and asylums of the world, 1891 image ref: L0023315

In 1888 the plans for the Asylum were approved by the Lunacy Commissioners and in June 1890 the memorial stone was laid over the principal entrance of the administration block by Lord Rosebery, the first Chairman of the London County Council (LCC). The asylum was formally opened on 17 June 1893.

L0023316 Claybury Asylum, first floor plan.
Claybury Asylum, first-floor plan from H. C. Burdett, Hospitals and asylums of the world, 1891 image ref: L0023316 

Whilst Claybury had been begun as the fourth County Pauper Lunatic Asylum for Middlesex, it was opened as the 5th LCC Pauper Lunatic Asylum, following the Local Government Act of 1888 and the inauguration of the LCC. The LCC took over Hanwell, Colney Hatch and Banstead Asylums from Middlesex, and Cane Hill from Surrey. In June 1889 the Asylums committee was authorised to provide a fifth asylum for London by completing Claybury and a new building contract was drawn up in the following October. The building contractor under the LCC was E. Gabbutt of Liverpool. George Wise, who had been appointed Clerk of Works by the Middlesex Justices, was retained, as was Hine. A tramway was constructed to link up with the Great Eastern Railway for transporting building materials. In 1891 Hine was obliged to modify his plans following a decision to install electric lighting. This involved providing three additional boilers.

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OS Map 1914 revision reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The site had been selected by the Middlesex Justices in 1886. It comprised the house and estate of Claybury Hall. The mansion of c.1790 was probably designed by Jesse Gibson (c.1748-1828), the District Surveyor of the eastern division of the City of London. [Essex Review, xxxvii, pp.99-108, cited in H. Colvin, Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1978] The house was a relatively modest two-storey building. The principal façade, facing south, was symmetrical with a central bow flanked by two outer bays, slightly advanced and contained beneath a shallow pediment. The bow at ground floor level was further defined by a semi-circular portico with coupled columns. The grounds extended to 269 acres and were landscaped by Repton. Burdett gave a description of the site, although at the time of writing the asylum buildings had not yet been completed.

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Claybury Hall in 1991 (photograph (c) Colin Thom)

‘Part of the land is charmingly wooded, affording shaded walks for the patients. No better site could be found for such a building, and although only 1½ miles from Woodford Station, and 6½ miles from Tower Hamlets, from which district it is expected most of the patients will be sent, the asylum will be perfectly secluded, and comprise in its own grounds all the beauties of an English rural district’. [H. C. Burdett Hospitals and Asylums of the World, 1893, vol.iv, p.345).

The asylum was placed on the summit of the hill rising to the north of the mansion house. The hill was levelled to provide a plateau of 12 acres giving a largely uniform ground-floor level from which some of the outer main corridors sloped to the outside blocks. Hine emphasized the importance of a flat site arguing that the additional cost was justified compared with ‘the perpetual inconvenience and extra cost of working a building filled with feeble, irresponsible patients, which has numerous steps on the ground-floor, up and down which food trolleys as well as patients have constantly to be conveyed’. [G.T. Hine ‘Asylums and Asylum Planning’ in Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 23 Feb. 1901, p.16]

Claybury was designed on an échelon plan. This was a development from the pavilion-plan asylum which comprised a sequence of pavilions or blocks, each designated for a different class of patient. Each pavilion contained a combination of wards, single rooms and day rooms, together with provision for staff and sanitary arrangements. The pavilions were generally linked by single storey corridors, either enclosed or as covered ways. The échelon plan differed from the pavilion plan only in its general layout, which, as the term suggests, consisted of pavilions arranged in an arrow head or échelon formation. This allowed Hine to provide all the patient blocks with day-rooms that had a southern aspect and uninterrupted views.

At the heart of the asylum was the recreation hall. It was particularly finely ornamented, was 120 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 40 feet high, and was capable of seating 1,200 people. At one end there was a gallery supported on iron columns and at the other the stage, with an elaborate proscenium arch in Jacobethan style, topped by a bust of Shakespeare. The high quality of decoration in the hall was integral to the philosophy of asylum planning and design at this date, as The Builder noted:

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‘The modern treatment of lunacy demands also more provision for the embellishment of the asylum than is to be found in the barrack like interiors of our older institutions. Hence the interior of Claybury Asylum is almost palatial in its finishings, its pitch-pine joinery, marble and tile chimney pieces, and glazed brick dados, so much so that some of the visitors rather flippantly expressed a desire to become inmates. The recreation hall, for example, is lavishly decorated with an elliptical ceiling, richly ornamented with Jackson’s fibrous plaster work, while the walls are panelled in polished oak, and the floors are to be finished in a similar manner.’ [The Builder, 30 July 1892, p.88]

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The interior of the recreation hall in 1991 (photographs (c) Colin Thom)

It is notable, however, that the majority of the fine interior work was reserved for the more public areas, such as the recreation hall, the chapel and the administration block.

L0027370 Claybury Asylum, Woodford, Essex: a dormitory. Photograph by
This photograph of one of the dormitories was taken around 1893 and shows a spartan interior, with the beds closely spaced. Note the fireproof construction of the ceiling. Photograph by the London &County Photographic Co. (c)Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027370 

Above is one of a series of photographs from the Wellcome Library which look to have been taken when the asylum was newly completed. It shows a large dormitory of the type provided for chronic cases. Acute cases were housed in small wards with a large allowance of single rooms.

L0027373 Claybury Asylum, Woodford, Essex: a dining room (?). Photogr
Photograph by the London & County Photographic Co. (c) Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027373

This view of a dining hall, presumably for patients rather than staff, although it is not so easy to tell as some of the decorative elements, such as wallpaper, curtains, potted plants, pictures on the walls, a hearth rug and the bird cage might seem a little luxurious for a pauper institution. However, homeliness and comfortable surroundings were recognised as important factors in treating mental illness. There is an almost identical photograph in Historic England Archives collection taken in 1895 by Bedford Lemere.

L0027374 Claybury Asylum, Woodford, Essex: a social room (?). Photogr
Photograph by the London & County Photographic Co. (c)Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027374

The photograph above is labelled as showing a ‘social room’. Wallpaper, pictures, rugs, and potted plants are all in evidence again along with the piano, and the shawls draped over the backs of the chairs might suggest that the patients have just stood up and moved out of view. The ceiling has the same fireproof vaulting  seen in the previous photograph. It creates a slightly less institutional feel to the room than the exposed iron beams in the dining hall.

L0027372 Claybury Asylum, Woodford, Essex: a nurses' day-room (?). Ph
Photograph by the London & County Photographic Co. (c) Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027372

The caption for these two photographs (above and below) suggest they might have been a day rooms for the nurses. The one below looks more like a staff room perhaps, particularly with the stained glass in the end window.

L0027371 Claybury Asylum, Woodford, Essex: a nurses' day-room (?). Ph
Photograph by the London & County Photographic Co. (c) Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027371

The snap above was taken in 1991, and shows similar stained glass, with the coats or arms of the local borough councils. It was in the administration block, in the main stair window. This block also contained the board and committee rooms and offices for staff as well as sitting and bedrooms for three assistant medical officers. The corridors were floored with mosaic tiling, and a faience panel marked the entrance to the board room, which had oak-panelled walls and an enriched plaster ceiling. Amongst the collection of photographs at the Wellcome Library are views of the service areas, the laundry and kitchens etc. These blocks, to the north of the water tower, have all been demolished, along with the blocks for the attendants and nurses which originally flanked the recreation hall.

L0027368 Claybury Asylum, Woodford, Essex: a linen room. Photograph b
Photograph by the London & County Photographic Co. (c) Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027368

This shows the linen room, and below is the ironing room. The work was strictly segregated for men and women. At this date patients would have assisted with many of the duties involved in the daily running of the asylum.

Photograph by the London & County Photographic Co. (c) Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027377
L0027369 Claybury Asylum, Woodford, Essex: a kitchen. Photograph by t
Photograph by the London & County Photographic Co. (c) Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027369

While the women washed and ironed, the men worked in the kitchens. I think this might be my favourite of the photographs of the working side of the hospital. Except perhaps this last one. These must be some of the senior staff, I think, though they are not identified and look very young.

Photograph by the London & County Photographic Co. (c) Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images ref: L0027376

More information and modern photographs of the site can be found here http://thetimechamber.co.uk/beta/sites/asylums/london-county-asylum-claybury

54 thoughts on “Repton Park, formerly Claybury Hospital

  1. I trained in claybury in 1977 and loved nursing there was a very progressive hospital. Was there today and walked the grounds delighted to see how beautifully it was developed keeping the beautiful grounds. Such memories

  2. My late husband, the artist Cyril Mann (1911-1980) had several spells in Claybury hospital, where I visited him with our daughter, in 1979. We found it a dispiriting, depressing place, and unsurprisingly, he loathed it. UnlikeVan Gogh in St Remy, Cyril never did any painting while he was incarcerated, once escaping after buying second-hand clothes at a hospital charity sale.

    • A sad end to a brilliant career. I found the website about your husband, cyrilmann.co.uk fascinating. I know Bevin Court well, from my time working on the Clerkenwell volumes of the Survey of London. I couldn’t help thinking of the huge contrast between the light and airy modernist Bevin Court and the heavy red brick Victorian buildings of Claybury.

  3. My grandmother died in Claybury Mental Hospital, sometime in the 1940s. I wasn’t born then and never met her, but my mother always said it was an awful place. That could, of course, have been just because it was a mental hospital. I’ve found this blog very interesting.

    • Thank you Margaret, I am not surprised that your mother thought the hospital an awful place. Those large mental hospitals were daunting places, no matter how good the nursing staff were, and undoubtedly upsetting for visiting relatives.
      best wishes from Harriet

  4. my great grandmother Louisa Collyer was a nurse at Claybury Asylum in 1901. not sure how long she served there.

    • In the 1901 England Census Louisa is listed as follows :
      Essex-England-Ilford- London District Lunatic Asylum, March 31 ,- 1901
      Louisa Collyer , single , age 29yr , Servant , Lunatic Attendant , Born Buckinghamshire , Great Horwood .
      I think we can confirm that the institution was Claybury .

      In the 1911 England Census -Buckinghamshire -Quarrendon – Fleet and Marston
      Louisa Collyer , aged 39yr , was described as a widow , living off private means .
      She was sister-in-law to the head of the household , William John Hobbs , aged 37yr .
      William’s wife was Sarah Charlotte Hobbs , age 33yr , who was likely to have been Luisa Collyer’s sister.
      Louisa’s being described as a widow may sound confusing !
      However Louisa had married in 1904 , to a Paul Collyer !
      Paul had died in 1905 , survived by his widow , Louisa Collyer .
      Louisa may have married again but that is another story .
      For the record , Louisa Collyer was born 24 September 1871 and died 20May 1957 at Winslow , Buckinghamshire.

      • Updated: Louisa married Paul Collyer (1st Cousin) 1904 USA
        Liaison with J Hollis 1906 Result birth of my grandfather J F H H Collyer b 1907
        married George Hancock 1913 who died 1917
        married George Holt 1919

      • Hello Ray Rob, Would you be able to find any record of my mother who was a nurse in training at Claybury Asylum in 1939? Her name was Lilian Joyce Martin and she was 18 years old at the time. Thank you kindly.

  5. I was an inpatient at Claybury Hospital in 1990 aged 18. I found it very scary and I had
    Electric shock therapy there. However I think most of the staff were good whist I was there. But a terrifying start to my adulthood.

  6. My mother trained as an 18 year old nurse at Claybury Asylum just before WW2. She is gone now but I just came across two old black and white photo postcards of the asylum in her photo album and she had written 1939 on the back with the words 18 year old nurse in training. She would tell me that it was a frightening place where the dangerous patients were under lock and key.

    • “She is gone now ” – I feared the worst after reading this ,about your mother , Anne !
      However , your post of October 14 , 2020 , brought relief………..

  7. My grandmother, Marguerite Foster, used to visit Claybury to help voluntarily. She died in 1976, so she was definitely there around the 1960’s/early 1970’s. She always bought homemade Christmas crackers from Claybury every Christmas, they were the best!

  8. My Great grandfather Harry Gibbs was a Male nurse at Claybury 1901, He lived in a cottage attached to the hospital with his wife and children, My grandfather was born in the cottage

    • There were no fewer than FIVE Gibbs folk listed in the Register of Mental Nurses for 1928 :
      2671 GIBBS , Harry Charles , Reg’d Dec. 18 , 1923 , London. Was at Claybury Hospital 1896-1899
      6670 GIBBS, Percival Henry, Reg’d Dec. 18 , 1925 , London.Was at Claybury Hospital 1919-1922
      6759 GIBBS , John Augustine,Reg’d Dec. 18 , 1925 , London. Was at Claybury Hospital 1919-1922
      3760 GIBBS , Maud , Reg’d Feb. 15 ,1924,London . Was at Norfolk County Mental Hospital , Thorpe
      1907-1910
      3761 GIBBS , Solomon Richard , Reg’d Feb.15 1924,London . Was at London County Mental Hospital, Banstead 1920-1923

  9. Claybury Hospital, Woodford Bridge Essex,i arrived there as a student nurse on the 4/9/1978 from Ireland as an 18 yr.old.I did not complete the 3 yr.course.We were a small intimate group,i recall, Paul Chapman-Wales, Linda Edwards, Leslie Griffin,Collette Skinnion, Vedwatte Mahaedo, Sara Chumbley and one more i can’t remember.I visited in 1985, the whole complex was still there.I visited in 1998, it were closed down at that stage and ceased being a hospital. I visited again in , the area, in April 2018 and was allowed access by the security staff at the gate entrance to Repton Park for which i was grateful, and walked around for an hour, and was wonderful to see. You would’nt think there was ever a psychiatric hospital there, the gate entrance is still there .Claybury Hospital provided excellent training from all of it’s tutors and the School of Nursing -the West Roding School of Nursing produced excellent nurses.

    • John, I started my training in Claybury in 1983 and reading those names i remember Colette clearly. I’d left the RN only a couple months before starting my training and half way through was thinking of rejoining and colette persuaded me to continue with my training and here i am now, August 2022 having retired from mental health nursing in July 2022. I also remember Mrs, Elzing, i had applied for enrolled nurse training as i didn’t have the required exams to be a student nurse. she interviewed me and then asked me to stay behind after the other interviewees had left asking me to write an essay which was about the effects of violence in football. She then offered me a place on the student nurse training so i have always been forever grateful to her for seeing something in me and taking that chance.

      • Thank you, Stefan for reaching out.From what you told me you have had a long and fulfilling career as a psychiatric nurse. 39 years , that is really something.Mrs Elzing, that’s who she was. I recall bumping into Mrs Elzing, just after i resigned from the 3 year course , in June 1980 , in the corridor of Claybury Hospital, where the cafeteria used to be. She said to me, ‘i would’nt have let you resign’. I had at this stage put 20 months into the course, i failed the intermediate exam twice, but in hindsight, i should have salvaged something out of it, such as, the S.E.N.I was too far in , to have tossed it aside. That’s the type of person Mrs Elzing was.She was’nt my tutor. My group tutor was George Agbolegbe, an excellent tutor, who went to Whipps Cross, in 1979. My senior tutor was Brian Nobbs, a fine tutor, also. There was also, Mike Kok, Wendy Ngasurian (very good looking), Ted Wells-very funny and amusing tutor, Len Mckewn-may have got that name slightly wrong. They were all excellent tutors.My father passed away in February 1980, totally un-expected. I had some personal difficulties myself , at the time.I resigned, after 2 failed exam attempts, i understood you had to resign, after 2 exam failed attempts. In hindsight i should have had consulted with the Union, at the time, C.O.H.S.E., ‘Joe Maloney’ Charge Nurse W3, was ‘chair’ of the local branch, i did’nt. There was also a Welfare Service that i should have consulted with , A ‘Rosemary Ball’, i think her name was.I came back to Ireland with nothing in June 1980. I got a job as a ‘bartender’ in November of that year.
        I met some great people in Claybury. ‘Peter Browne’ stands out-a gentleman, Peter was nurse. I knew a Welshman -a porter in the hospital. His name was ‘Dennis’, he introduced me to cricket in 1980. When i was leaving , i gave him all my nurses books.’James Lazar’ was an outstanding trade unionist, and i recall very clearly the ‘winter of discontent’, the crisis in the Hospitals countrywide, the winter of 1978, when Jim Callaghan was P.M. Labour.
        I stayed in Vernon Walker House, room 4. There was a nurse in room 3 from Mauritius, whom i got to know in 1980. We corresponded a few times after i left nursing. I don’t remember his name. He did tell me ,in late 1980, a student nurse had started training in Claybury, from Ireland, and she was teaching him how to play ‘hurling’.
        In 1985 i arranged to visit ‘Babs Mahadeo’, in her home.She was married to ‘Peter Lo’.Peter joined our group. I visited Claybury hospital.
        The group i trained with, i never did find out how their careers advanced after 1980. Did they all qualify, im sure they did and went to have great careers in psychiatric nursing, psychology , management and so on.In 1985, i was told ‘David Day’, his career had really taken off.
        I went back there in April 2018. I had known, the hospital, the ‘west roding school of nursing, vernon walker house’, were long gone at that stage.I visited both London and Manchester, that week.. Repton Park is what it’s called now. I explained to the ‘security’, i had done time there as a student nurse . The ‘security’ allowed me access to the grounds.I spent an hour there. You would never think their was a Claybury Community/Hospital there.The gate entrance is still the same and the ‘gate lodge’ on the left is still there, as you enter.
        Enjoy your Retirement.

      • Oh wow there’s some names there i remember and some i don’t. Wendy Nagasurian was a great tutor, Brian Nobbs left if i remember correctly in 1985, i know it was while i was still training. Our group tutor was Lal Upahaday(not sure if that’s correct spelling) and he was a fantastic tutor. You’ve got to remember John Slevin!
        To be honest i left Claybury after my training so don’t really know what happened after i left. I did keep in touch with Ernie Read, staff nurse on T2, as after i left he got a job working where i was. Interestingly he was dual trained and did his general training with my sister. It’s a shame what happened with your training, those midpoint exams were traumatic but i’d rather have done them than the university training now.
        If you’re interested there is a facebook group for ex Claybury staff called claybury connections.

  10. Did the hospital have a burial ground? A relative said her grandma may be buried there. She died 1955. Thanks

    • Chingford Mount Cemetery was where a patient who died in 1940 was buried .
      A search for this cemetery on Google is worthwhile.
      Good Luck !

    • Hello again , Charlie
      I am writing to try and clarify the advice given in my reply dated JUNE 16,2022 :
      That reply gave information that was relevant to a great/grand aunt of mine who died in Claybury Hospital at the end of the year 1940 , and was subsequently buried at Chingford Mount Cemetery .
      A search of my emails has uncovered some correspondence which advises that while there were common grave areas that were occupied by hospital patients ( and others ) there were no areas set aside specifically for Claybury Hospital .
      The information was sent to me in January 2020 , from the Waltham Forest Family History Society (WFFHS ), and is reproduced , in part , below :
      ” Hi Ray : looking at the register, it is a common grave. It is grave CR37537 in area F13. There is at least one other person from 1a Manor Road, but there are also others, including one from Whipps Cross Hospital, so we can conclude that it wasn’t a plot owned by or allocated to Claybury. The grave two plots north was also a common grave in which several from hospitals are also buried.”

  11. My gt grandmother was admitted to Claybury Asylum in May 1893, before it was officially opened on 17th June, so she must’ve been one of the very first inmates. Her record says she was discharged ‘recovered’ in September 1894. Her 4 daughters (all under 10) were sent to the St Pancras Workhouse, where they sent them on to the Workhouse School in Levesden near to Watford. Sadly, one of them (age 6) died of diphtheria whilst there. the others were released to their father on 6 April 1894. Such a sad story.

  12. On reflection, Claybury Hospital would have been a Flagship hospital in the 1970’s,in it’s new approach to the treatment of mental illness’s such as Schizophrenia.By 1978, the hospital had established itself as a leader in this field.The concept of the ‘therapeutic community’ was first introduced by Dr.John Pippard,at Claybury Hospital, a famous consultant psychiatarist who wrote books on ‘leuctomy’s’, his humane approach to the treatment of mental illness, with less emphasis on medication , more emphasis on talking, group therapy , psycho therapy set the template for the treatment of mental illness in the future.Dr.David Prothero ,consultant psychiatarist was part of his team.
    The use of certain medications, particularly Chlorpromazine -Largactil , it’s long- term use had a devastating, debilitating effect on long-term Schizophrenic patients. The adverse effects of this one drug over a long period were catastrophic. For instance, some of the side -effects were, Parkinson Like Symptoms, Obesity, Photo Sensitivity, Inability to move move about, Loss of Libido,
    in short being prescribed Chlorpromazine was like being in a chemical strait- jacket, after a month being on this stuff 100mg. 3 times a day, you would’nt be able to move.Other long -term anti-psychotic medications, Modecate, Depixol, Melleril, Stelazine were just as severe, but Chlorpromazine was the worst for adverse effects, i hope it’s no longer in use. I recall a further drug called ‘artane’ being prescribed along side it to counteract the adverse effects of Chlorpromazine.
    Dr. John Pippard , the great humane man that he was, he changed all that, he changed the whole approach to treating Schizophrenia and other related psychotic illness’s, with less emphasis on meds.
    My first training experience on a long stay male ward,1978 , ward W2 Claybury, was an eye- opener. Homosexuality was quite prevalant amongst the long stay patients. The patients were all in a ‘stupor’ all down to Chlorpromazine-Largactil. Us students and staff nurses had to literally pull them apart.6 years with the ‘Nuns’ at my local Convent of Mercy , did not prepare me for this.There was no ‘helpline ‘to ring if one had been affected, unlike today.There was no Counselling, yes, it was an eye-opener
    Haloperidol was prescribed for acute manic conditions, it was particularly severe and brutal on the patient. 2 weeks on this stuff , you would’nt be able to get out of bed.
    Electro Convulsive Therapy- ECT, to treat psychotic depression, electric shock treatment was effective for a few days, and the patient would drift back to deep depression. There were on going debates that this form of treatment would eventually lead to Epilepsy, one blast of this and it kills of millions of brain cells, so i hope this has also been banned form use in all psychiatric hospitals.
    In 1978, when i was student nurse there , Claybury Hospital was moving away from all of this.The concept of the Therapeutic Community was well established by then, especially for the acute admission patients . A meeting would consist of a number of patients, a student, a staff nurse, a P.S.W. a psychiatric doctor with the emphasis being on sharing your thoughts and anxieties.It progressed from strength to strength. I recall Dr.john Pippard was always sceptical about junior doctors over prescribing anti-psychotic medications.
    The use of such severe medications should only be applied, as a last resort , but only to criminally insane patients.
    I have never been in a psychiatric hospital since 1980, and i would hope that the concept of the ‘therapeutic community’as devised by Dr.John Pippard has gone from strength to strength worldwide, with less emphasis on anti-psychotic meds.
    It is my one regret that i did not remain in psy.nursing, i know i could have been good at it.

    • Thank you John for such an in-depth account of the history of this hospital as you knew it during your time there. It is a fascinating story. My Mum trained as a nurse at Claybury in 1939 when she was 18 years old. She told stories of being on the ward that housed the criminally insane patients. It was a frightening experience for her. After the war she left nursing when she married my Dad and they emigrated to Canada. I have a couple of old photos of the hospital in Mum’s old photo album.

  13. My Grandfather Arthur Parsley 1894-1958 was male nurse @ Claybury . I believe that he moved from a London hospital to Claybury as a patient before his death . Are there any staff records available for research I would be very interested to find out how long he worked there .

    • Hi we have just found out a family relative
      Spend most of her life in cladbury.
      How would we find information on her stay etc at claybury

    • Arthur Parsley is listed in the Register of Nurses over a number of years , the latest being 1946 :
      3205 Parsley , Arthur , 182, Buckhurst Way ,Buckhurst Hill , Essex.
      Registration : December 18 , 1923 ,London .
      Cert. M.P.A.
      1919-1922 London County Mental Hospital Claybury .
      His previous address , from 1925 to 1943 was , 114 , Snakes Lane , Woodford Green , Essex.

    • Sally ,
      Arthur Parsley’s death is recorded at Stepney so I wonder if that means his death likely took place at London Hospital ?
      By the way , I also wonder whether your Grandfather served in World War One ?
      I have seen references to a Lance Sergeant Arthur Parsley who served in the 4th Battalion , Essex Regiment .
      I am unsure as to whether there was more than one soldier with the name Arthur Parsley because there were four Regimental Service numbers associated with that name :
      1088 – 293446 -8743 – 8748 ( I suspect that service numbers 8743 & 8748 were mixed up because of the difficulty in reading the typed numbers 3 & 8 )

  14. Hi, I found a small button whilst metal detecting in the Ilford area. It is brass and says Claybury Asylum
    With the initials L C A In the centre. Can any one give me an idea of how old it would be.
    Many thanks. Mike.

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  19. We used to visit my mother’s friend from church in the late 50s. She had become quite unstable and had pushed her twin sister under the bath water. Mother used to go and take soft jellies for her and the other residents. It was a warm place and she seemed well cared for.

  20. Thank you, Stefan for that update. I do remember John Slevin, he was a Charge Nurse in my time. He was Meticulous , Flambuoyant and a Trail Blazer.During your time in Claybury,i presume you would have practised as a Psychiatric Nurse, in Claybury, post training, did you know a fellow groupie of mine Paul Chapman, he would have qualified in 1981.Take Care.

  21. Hi, who remembers Alexander J Pratt or Sandy Pratt, a Scotsman, a most knowledgeable and learned all round nurse ,both in general and psychiatric nursing.If you were a student nurse in Claybury Hospital or a Staff Nurse in the late 1970’s, and you did nights, you would have had to encounter Sandy Pratt. To the best of my knowledge , Sandy was a Night Charge Nurse , he did nights all the time.He once told me, he worked as a Nurse in Egypt.
    Sandy ,as i recall, accumulated vast knowledge of Nursing from his own experiences. In the early hours of the the morning , during a Night Shift, as a student, when you could barely keep your eyes open, Sandy, would round up us students, in a Nurses Station/Office and relate to us his experiences as a Nurse and instruct us, this was on the job training. Sandy Pratt had incredible knowledge of both General and Psychiatric Nursing.
    Take Care.

    • BUCKHAVEN CHILD’S MIRACULOUS ESCAPE                                                                                                                          Knocked Down by Motor Lorry                                                                                                                                                              A three-and-half-year-old Buckhacen boy had a miraculous escape from death yesterday when he was knocked down by a motor lorry belonging to F. Walker, builder, Kirkcaldy, and driven by John Johnston, Kirkcaldy. He was Alexander Johnston Pratt, son of Mr and Mrs John Pratt, 97 DW en alk, Buckhaven, and he was in the act of crossing the street, a few yards from his home, when the accident occurred. The boy darted from the rear of a horsedrawn lorry which was proceeding west, and so sudden was his appearance that the driver of the lorry, which was proceeding in the opposite direction, had no time to swerve to avoid him. The child was dragged along the roadway by the lorry for a short distance , and it was only the driver’s presence of mind which prevented the boy from being struck by one of the rear wheels. The driver kept his vehicle going straight ahead until be could bring it to a standstill. On being extricated from beneath the lorry the child was rushed to the Wemyss Memorial Hospital, where it was found that he was suffering from severe head injuries. 

  22. Regarding Alexander Johnston Pratt ( 1931 -2010 ) as remembered by John Conney , I found the 1934 newspaper article in the Leven Advertiser and Wemyss Gazette dated 18 December 1934 .
    Judging by the article , Sandy Pratt was lucky to have survived , and then gone on to have a nursing career .
    Regarding his nursing training his named popped up in published lists of trainees who passed their exams eg
    a)Dundee Courier 14 March 1951 – NURSES’ EXAMINATIONS SUCCESSES – Royal Mental Hospital , Montrose -Alexander J. Pratt
    b)Dundee Courier 13 March 1953 -Murray Royal Mental Hospital Perth – Alexander J. Pratt
    c) MALE NURSES – Stracathro Hospital , Brechin – Alexander J. Pratt
    d) UK and Ireland Nursing Register 1953 – PRATT , Alexander Johnston , 35 Lawson Street , Kirkaldy , Fife .
    Date of Registration : 27 March 1953 . Stratheden Hospital , Cupar.
    Qualifications A. E, – / 2 / 53

  23. Thank you, Ray, for the background you provided on Sandy Pratt.It’s definitely the same person, Sandy Pratt would have been 47/48 in 1979.He was a well know character in Claybury Hospital, in the late 1970’s. Hope fully there were student nurses, staff nurses , now retired from nursing, who knew Sandy Pratt back then.He was as good as any Nurse Tutor.Take care.

  24. Hi,in early 1980, David Day a student nurse set up ‘Claybury Weight Training Club’ for those of us that used to attend the hospital gym, for a small fee.We had our own T shirt ‘Claybury Weight Training Club’. David was from East London, from East Ham or West Ham i don’t remember, he had worked with London Transport prior to taking up student nursing at Claybury Hospital.He was a very positive ,pleasant, athletic ,pro-active young man and to the best of my knowledge, he progressed well in his nursing career.Anybody any memories of David Day? And also, Paul Chapman from Wales, we were in the same group , we started on the 04-09-1978. Paul had previously worked with ‘Williams and Glynn’ Bank , Wales, prior to his nursing career and as far as i am aware , he remained in Nursing. Take Care.

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