Building Bedlam again – taking a leap forward to Monks Orchard

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Entrance gates to Bethlem Hospital, 1896 from The Queen’s London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis (Public domain, from Wikimedia Commons)

Bethlem Hospital remained in St George’s Fields, Southwark from 1815 to 1930. In that time numerous additions and alterations were made to the building, but the area around had also developed and changed almost beyond recognition. In the early nineteenth century it was airy and open, with few houses and market gardens in the immediate vicinity. It was on the other side of the river from the densely built-up urban centres of Westminster and the City, and on the outskirts of Southwark itself. But it did not remain a rural or even suburban idyll for long, as industrialisation and the population expansion of the capital brought waves of building activity.

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Greenwood’s map of 1830 showing the area around Bethlem Hospital

Greenwood’s map of London of 1830 captures the moment before this expansion, half a century later and Bethlem hospital had been engulfed. Population density increased as the century wore on, with the usual pattern of housing intended for single families increasingly occupied by two or three.

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Booth’s Poverty Map. Printed Map Descriptive of London Poverty 1898-1899. Sheet 9. Inner Southern District. Reproduced courtesy of LSE Library

Booth’s poverty map of London of the late 1890s showed that although those living in the immediate surroundings of the hospital were classed as fairly comfortable, on the other side of the Lambeth Road were pockets of the lowest class, the vicious and semi-criminal, amongst housing that was almost entirely occupied by the poor, or very poor.

Asylum_for_Criminal_Lunatics,_BroadmoorBroadmoor Asylum for Criminal Lunatics, from The Illustrated London News, 1867

Other changes had occurred during the century or so that Bethlem was at St George’s Fields. Legislation had been introduced to encourage the establishment of lunatic asylums for paupers early in the nineteenth century (the Lunacy Acts of 1808 and 1815), and this reduced the need for Bethlem to cater for the poorer class of patient. The County Asylums Act of 1845 made the establishment of pauper asylums compulsory, and this, coupled with a new regime headed by Dr W. Charles Hood, the first resident medical officer, saw a shift towards caring for a higher class of patient. This was consolidated after the opening in 1863 of Broadmoor for criminal lunatics, removing another class of patient formerly accommodated at Bethlem. Improvements to the accommodation were made, the comforts of home introduced and a convalescent home built at Witley (1866-9, designed by Sydney Smirke). [1]

V0013739 The Hospital of Bethlem [Bedlam], St. George's Fields, Lambe Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org The Hospital of Bethlem [Bedlam], St. George's Fields, Lambeth: the men's ward of the infirmary. Wood engraving by F. Vizetelly, 1860. 1860 By: Frederick VizetellyPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The men’s ward of the infirmary at Bethlem Hospital, 1860 by Frederick Vizetelly, reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 from Wellcome Library, London

So by the early twentieth century the type of patient at Bethlem had changed, and the locality had become more densely urban, but more importantly than either of these in prompting a move to a new site was the old-fashioned design of the building and the constant demands and cost of maintaining the ageing fabric of the asylum.

V0013741 The Hospital of Bethlem [Bedlam], St. George's Fields, Lambe Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org The Hospital of Bethlem [Bedlam], St. George's Fields, Lambeth: the female workroom. Wood engraving probably by F. Vizetelly after F. Palmer, 1860. 1860 By: F. Palmerafter: Frederick VizetellyPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Female workroom, Bethlem Hospital. Wood engraving probably by F. Vizetelly after F. Palmer, 1860. Wellcome Library, London. Reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 

Asylum design had moved on since 1815, and a century later the ideal form for a mental hospital was considered to be the colony plan or villa system, comprising detached buildings set in landscaped grounds. Colony plan asylums were developed in Germany from the late 1870s but had their origins in the Gheel Colony in Belgium. Gheel had traditionally originated in medieval times as a place of pilgrimage to the shrine of St Dymphne which had gained a reputation for curing the insane. Pilgrims were boarded in the village and gradually it developed into a mental colony. In the nineteenth century the Belgian government placed its administration under the control of a Commissioner and Board of Governors. [2]

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Plan of Altscherbitz Asylum, Germany, from Sibbald’s Plans of Modern Asylums for the Insane Poor, 1897

One of the most influential of the later colonies, was the Alt Scherbitz (now Altscherbitz) village asylum near Leipzig, established in 1876 for 960 patients. Its layout was published by John Sibbald, a Commissioner in Lunacy for Scotland, in 1897 in his Plans of Modern Asylums for the Insane Poor. At Altscherbitz, the site was naturally divided in two by the high road between Halle and Leipzig and this separation was used to divide the medical and non-medical sections. Gender informed the first level of classification, with the women’s houses to the west together with the kitchen and laundry, and the men to the east where a brick works provided manual labour.

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The ground plan of Brislington House, near Bristol, a private asylum established by Dr Fox. The patients occupied detached houses arranged as a terrace. The plan dates from 1806. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.

This colony plan was welcomed as it seemed to offer a solution to new ideas about how the patients’ environment promoted recovery or cure. It aimed to provide recognizably domestic surroundings, emulating the home environment rather than reminding the patient that they were in an institution. There were earlier precedents for this, but in small private asylums such as Brislington House near Bristol, built in 1806.

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View over to Craighouse, the colony built in 1889-94 as part of the Royal Edinburgh Asylum. Craighouse in the middle distance, ‘Morningside and Craighouse’ by Pascal Blachier, taken in 2007, imaged licensed under CC BY 2.0

The first time the colony plan was attempted on a large scale and at a public institution was at Craighouse, built as an annexe to the Royal Edinburgh Asylum in 1889-94, although this was for paying patients. It was designed by Sydney Mitchell in close collaboration with Thomas Clouston, the asylum’s Medical Superintendent, to give architectural form to his ideas on the cure of mental illness. The buildings revived something of the palatial aspect that had largely disappeared from asylum architecture since Hooke’s Bethlem. Clouston wanted variety, in the colours of the building materials, in the architectural details, of size and of scale. Believing that patients associated phases of their illnesses with their surroundings, he particularly wanted to be able to move convalescent patients to a new environment.

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Rutherford House, designed by Sydney Mitchell in 1899 and completed in 1904 as a detached infirmary or admissions hospital for paupers. The year after it opened, Sydney Mitchell went to Germany to see asylums there. Photographed in 1993, © RCAHMS

Poorer patients got their taste of the colony system a little bit later at the Crichton Royal in Dumfries, where detached houses were added in the grounds during the early 1900s. Sydney Mitchell, was the architect, and he, along with a deputation from the asylum’s Board of Management, had set out in 1897 to visit Altscherbitz and similar asylums at Biesdorp and Lichtenberg near Berlin. Such missions became increasingly common. In 1899 a deputation of the Aberdeen District Lunacy Board made a tour of continental asylums before commissioning a design for their new district asylum on the Altscherbitz model.

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The former Bangour Asylum, photographed in the late 1980s. The church was added later, though always intended as the focal point of the colony.

Further colony plan asylums were built in Scotland at Bangour, which opened in 1906 serving Edinburgh, where a competition was held for the design which specified Altscerhbitz as the model, and Dykebar at Paisley which opened in 1909. Bangour is particularly significant for Bethlem: its architect, Hippolyte J. Blanc, had as one of his assistants working on the asylum plans, John Manuel, who later worked with Charles E. Elcock, architect of the new Bethlem Hospital. [3]

geograph-2315257-by-Nigel-Cox-2Rydinghurst House of 1908 at the former Epileptic Colony in Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, now the Epilepsy Society, photographed in 2011 © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

In England colonies were built around the same time, but not as yet for general mental hospitals. Instead they were deemed appropriate in the first instance for epileptic colonies. In 1884 the National Society for the Employment of Epileptics established a home at Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire. It began with just one villa, a temporary iron structure, to which further villas were gradually added.

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Leybourne Grange Colony, Kent County Council, W. H. Robinson architect, built about 1935 for the so-called mentally deficient. 

But the colony plan was most widely adopted for a new breed of asylum ushered in by the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913. A Royal Commission had been appointed in 1904 to look into the care of the feeble-minded. This at least spoke out against the sterilization of those deemed mentally deficient that was being advocated by the Eugenics Education Society, and it was this Commission which resulted, eventually, in the 1913 Act. Amongst other things, the Act sought to define mental deficiency which was considered to be present from birth and incurable, as opposed to mental illness which was usually contracted later in life and deemed curable. The Act legislated for the provision of accommodation, care and protection of the former group whose removal from undesirable surroundings was thought necessary ‘in their own interests and that of society’. The Board of Control, which replaced the Commissioners in Lunacy in 1914, recommended the colony system for these new institutions, as it allowed ‘better classification and training’ and ensured that the inmates were happier and more contented than in institutions of the barracks type.

Bethlem aerial perspective

Aerial perspective of Bethlem Royal Hospital showing proposed layout of the buildings, from commemorative booklet produced for the laying of the foundation stone.

It was a combination of these influences which lead to the adoption of a colony plan for the new Bethlem hospital at Monks Orchard. It was the first new mental hospital designed in England since the war. Elcock & Sutcliffe were appointed in February 1926 to work alongside the hospital surveyor, John Cheston. Charles Ernest Elcock was the key figure behind the design, which he hoped would ‘make a leap forward’. However, his plans still had to meet the approval of the Board of Control. While the Board was in favour of colonies, it disapproved of Modernism, thought flat roofs should be shunned, and was most comfortable with the blandest of Neo-Georgian styles.

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Administration Block, Bethlem Royal Hospital, photographed in 2008

Unsurprisingly relations were often frosty between Elcock and the Board’s architect John Kirkland, and indeed Sir Frederick Willis, Chairman of the Board from 1921 to 1928. Willis criticized the ‘generous scale’ of the rooms, which he suggested were due to Elcock trying to balance the buildings, while Kirkland queried the necessity for Turkish Baths, and took a great deal of convincing over the flat roofs, which were only used on the peripheral buildings on the site. After much wrangling, the amended designs were approved and detailed drawings submitted in December 1928. [4]

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Bethlem Hospital chapel, photographed in about 2008 (© H. Richardson)

It may have been the pressure of work involved in the Bethlem job that prompted Elcock to seek an assistant in 1928. He appointed Ralph Maynard Smith, a young man in his mid-twenties, who was as much an artist and a poet as an architect. Maynard Smith had studied at the Architectural Association, and spent a brief time working with the architect Michael Waterhouse immediately before joining Elcock & Sutcliffe. There undoubtedly were other assistants in Elcock’s office, making it difficult to know who did what in the design and planning process. A building at Bethlem where Smith’s influence may be felt is the chapel. It is a beguiling building, quite unlike the many hum-drum Gothic asylum chapels of earlier years. Its design was obviously considered a success as it was elaborated upon a few years later at Runwell Hospital in Essex, also by Elcock & Sutcliffe.

Bethlem chapel interior

Interior of Bethlem Hospital chapel, photographed around 2008 (© H. Richardson). It is all but identical to the interior of the chapel built for Runwell Hospital in Essex (below), although the exteriors were different, Runwell also had a tower – planned for the chapel at Bethlem but later omitted.

Interior of Runwell hospital chapel, probably photographed soon after the building was completed, from a collection of negatives at the hospital leant to the author.

Stylistically Bethlem presents something of a mix, from the conservative administration block, with its hipped roof and Neo-Georgian simplicity to the starkly modern boiler house and flat-roofed patients’ accommodation blocks and treatment unit. Elcock laid an emphasis on the setting to give attractiveness to the buildings with ‘pleasing roads, avenues, flower borders, etc’. [5]

Bethlem quiet unit perspective

Architectural perspective sketch of the quiet patients’ unit, unlike the Neo-Georgian administraton block, most of the patients’ villas had flat roofs, and if not strictly modernist, in this sketch, taken from a brochure produced by the hospital, there seems to be an echo of contemporary Dutch or German architecture

Elcock set new standards in the scale and type of accommodation he provided which included laboratories, hydrotherapy facilities, a lecture room for students, and a separate treatment and research block. The sexes were no longer strictly segregated either: male and female patients shared buildings, from the more severe ‘excited’ patients to convalescents. Elcock researched his subject thoroughly, touring the country to visit the best new buildings added to older hospitals, and consulting medical staff.

Bethlem treatment block perspective

Architectural perspective of the Treatment and Research Unit, Bethlem Royal Hospital brochure.

In the end the design was compromised both by the restrictions imposed by the Board of Control and the necessary cost-cutting in the face inflation in the years after the General Strike. But if it wasn’t quite the magnificent hospital originally proposed, it was certainly well-equipped and incorporated many innovative features. There were four main villas for patients, two for quiet cases, one for ‘excited’ patients, the fourth for convalescents. Nearly all the patients were accommodated in single rooms, in line with private general hospitals and in contrast to tendency towards dormitories in municipal mental hospitals. In addition to the patients villas there were the usual service buildings – kitchens, boiler house, stores etc, and the innovative Treatment and Research unit, which provided hydrotherapy, psychotherapy, dental and electrical treatment, pharmacy, and operating theatre. [6]

Today the core buildings are little altered, but many of the outlying buildings have had many alterations and newer buildings have been added to the site to meet the changing needs of mental health care. In recognition of the hospital’s historic importance there is a museum on the site, the Museum of the Mind, which opened in 2015.

References

  1. Survey of London, vol.25 St George the Martyr, Southwark and St Mary Newton, Ida Darlington ed. 1955, p.78 (online version at British History Online): Jonathan Andrews, Asa Briggs, Roy Porter, Penny Tucker and Keir Waddington, The History of Bethlem, Routledge, London and New York, 1997, pp.503ff
  2. H. Richardson ‘A Continental Solution to the Planning of Lunatic Asylums 1900-1940’ in J. Frew and D. Jones (eds) Scotland and Europe, Architecture and Design 1850-1940, 1991
  3. H. Richardson ‘Charles Ernest Elcock’ in Essays in Scots and English Architectural History, 2009, p.122
  4. Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives, Special Commitee Minutes, 1928 pp. 194, 196-7, 291
  5. Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives, Special Commitee Minutes, 1926-7, p.34
  6. Jonathan Andrews et al, History of Bethlem, p.566

Marvellous Maps – updating the Scottish Hospitals Survey

Probably the best source that I have been using for updating the Scottish Hospitals Survey is the National Library of Scotland’s map images. Maps are always key to charting the history and development of buildings, settlements and indeed the landscape. And the best thing of all is that the NLS is freely available to all. It is a wonderful resource.

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Athole & Breadalbane Union Poorhouse (see Perth & Kinross). Extract from the 1st Edition OS Map, surveyed in 1863. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Many of the maps, and for me particularly the first edition Ordinance Survey maps and large scale town plans, are things of beauty as well as mines of information. Being so used to the grey tones of most nineteenth-century OS maps, the vibrant pinks and reds of the buildings, buff or ochre paths and roads, and the blues of river and sea, are also a joy.

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Kelso dispensary, Roxburgh Street, founded in 1777 (see Borders).  Extract from the 1st edition OS map, surveyed in 1858. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

For anyone interested in public buildings these maps are especially useful as they give ground plans, and often room uses as well.

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Barony or Barnhill Poorhouse was completed in 1853, so this map was produced just a few years after it opened (see Glasgow). Extract from 1857 Town Plan of Glasgow, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

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Detail of the OS large-scale Town Plans, showing the central part of Barony Poorhouse.

I have never been sure about how to interpret the mapping of gardens, some seem too generic to be completely accurate representations, although the general layouts, or features such as embankments, paths, ditches etc. are more likely to be as existing. If anyone knows more, please do enlighten me. Looking at the detail of Barony Poorhouse above, the arrangement in the airing yard with diagonal paths leading up to a viewing area with seats seems too unusual not to be an accurate depiction of an actual feature.

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The former Crichton Royal Asylum (see Dumfries & Galloway). Extract from the 1st edition OS map, surveyed in 1856. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Crichton Royal  – what at first site might look like elaborately laid out formal gardens around the cruciform building are in fact the earthworks of the different airing grounds.

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Detail of the former Crichton Royal Asylum. Extract from the 1st edition OS map, surveyed in 1856. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Zooming in it becomes clearer. The airing grounds were walled enclosures, to prevent escape, but in order to allow the patients to see over the confining walls the ground within was built up to form a flat-topped mound. Bowling greens are shown close by the Crichton Royal and the Royal Edinburgh Asylum (below).

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 17.10.46Royal Edinburgh Asylum (see Edinburgh). Extract from the large-scale town plans, sheet 50, surveyed in 1852. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Comparing different editions of the maps show how an institution was added to and changed. Between 1852 (above) and 1876 (below) wings were added to the main asylum building to the west, extending into the walled airing grounds.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 20.15.28Royal Edinburgh Asylum. Extract from the OS Large-scale Town Plans 1876. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The grounds of the East Division of the Royal Edinburgh Asylum not only have a bowling green, but what appears to be an orchard with paths crossing it, a formal flower bed (on the west side), shelter belts of mixed trees, and, on the east side, a cruciform feature which, on zooming in, is marked as a bower.

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Detail of the 1852 map, showing the Bower in the asylum grounds, with a cage marked at the centre where the paths cross. 

The cage presumably was an aviary. Caged birds were recommended for lunatic asylum patients in the mid-nineteenth century, along with potted plants and pictures, to provide objects of interest and an air of domesticity.

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Perth poorhouse (see Perth & Kinross), later Rosslyn House, council offices. From the OS large-scale town plans, 1860. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Perth poorhouse can be seen in splendid isolation, the wrong side of the railway tracks and very much on the outskirts of the city. The map was produced in 1860, the year after the poorhouse was built.

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Perth Poorhouse, detail. OS large-scale town plans, 1860. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland site allows you to zoom right in. The plan of the poorhouse above shows the room uses, positions of doors, windows and stairs. It shows the divisions within the poorhouse – women on one side and men on the other – and the separation of the aged and children from the able-bodied adults. You can also see that the managers had grander rooms, placed either side of the main entrance, which had bay windows (the Board Room and the Governor’s Office).

Finally, a note for anyone not of a Scottish persuasion. The NLS has maps of Northern Ireland, Wales, and, dare I say it, even England.

The Asylum at Christmas

Celebrating Christmas with entertainments and a special dinner was introduced into the workhouse and even prisons before it was provided in pauper lunatic asylums. It only seems to have become widespread from about the 1850s.

L0000641 Colney Hatch, lunatic asylum.

Entertainment to the patients at the Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum, Colney Hatch. This was a New Year’s celebration, but the dancing and the decoration with flags were typical of the entertainments held for Christmas. Illustrated London News, 15 Jan 1853. Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Image reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 

According to the Chelmsford Chronicle reporting on the Christmas festivities at the Essex County Asylum in 1858, it was only in recent years that ‘the poor lunatic’ was thought capable of appreciating the ‘social enjoyments’ associated with the season: ‘it is one of the humane discoveries of modern medical science, that he is far more successfully worked upon by the music of the kind word than by the rattle of the iron chain.’ [1]

L0011790 The County Lunatic Asylum, Brentwood, Essex: bird's eye view Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org The County Lunatic Asylum, Brentwood, Essex: bird's eye view. Wood engraving by W.E. Hodgkin, 1857, after H.E. Kendall. Engraving 1857 By: W. E. Hodgkinafter: Henry Edward KendallThe Builder Published: 16 May 1857 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The County Lunatic Asylum, Brentwood, Essex: bird’s eye view. Wood engraving by W.E. Hodgkin, 1857, after H.E. Kendall. Wellcome Library, London. Essex County Asylum was designed by H. E. Kendall in 1849 and completed in 1853. Originally for between 400 and 500 patients it was extended many times. Two of the earliest additions were a dining-hall in 1863 and a recreation hall in 1879. The asylum was later renamed Warley Hospital. It closed in 2001. The Builder, 16 May 1857 Wellcome Images Image reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

On Christmas day at the Essex Asylum one of the wards was fitted up as a dining hall, the ward itself measuring some seventy feet in length and seating 230 inmates. The walls were decorated with flags and evergreens in ‘tasteful devices’… ‘while forty ponderous plum puddings and 350 lbs of roast beef smoked upon the tables’. In addition to the dinner there was a musical evening held in the recreation hall, which was decorated for the occasion. A Mrs Campbell supplied 1,200 artificial flowers which the patients had interwoven into figures and festoons of laurel. Sketches from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Essex arms and portraits of the Indian heroes Havelock and Wilson also formed an unlikely combination of pictorial decoration in the hall, all painted or drawn by the patients. The orchestra, too, was composed of patients, who supplied the music for the country dances. Between dances patients amused the company with songs and recitations. [1]

From the late 1850s the number of newspaper reports of similar entertainments elsewhere in Britain began to grow, these were often occasions attended by the local gentry. At the Birmingham Borough Asylum the Christmas festivities comprised country dancing, singing and games on Christmas eve. During the evening ‘an immense circle was formed for ‘drop the glove’. Half an hour of exciting fun was the result’. There was also a ‘jingling match’ and a jumping match. A female patient with an ‘exceedingly melodious voice’ sang Where are you going to, my pretty maid? and amidst the music and activities, spiced ale and plum-cake were served for refreshment. The Christmas dinner featured roast beef, plum pudding and ‘various seasonable accessories’. Entertainments continued nightly throughout the week with amateurs from the town visiting the asylum to provide vocal and instrumental music. One evening there was an exhibition of ‘dissolving views’. [2]

In the 1880s similar entertainments were reported at the Guernsey asylum, where games included musical chairs and candle-buff. [3]

Sources

[1] Chelmsford Chronicle, 1 Jan 1858, p.3
[2] Birmingham Daily Post, 27 Dec 1859, p.3
[3] The Star, Guernsey, 1 Jan 1889, p.2

Ayr District Asylum, William Railton’s unbuilt design

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Detail of William Railton’s proposed elevation for the Ayr District Asylum

A competition was held for the design of Ayr District Asylum in 1864. The commission was awarded to Edwards & Robertson of Dundee early the following year, their plans having been judged ‘most preferable’ (see Ailsa Hospital, on the Ayrshire and Arran page). There were seven competitors, and the runners up were each awarded £25. These included Peddie and Kinnear, whose plans are in the National Monument Record of Scotland, Murdoch and McDermott of Ayr, and William Railton, of Kilmarnock. [1]

Railton’s plans are dated 31 December 1864. William Railton was an architect and engineer who also designed Kilmarnock Infirmary and the Cunninghame Combination Poorhouse (later Ravenspark Hospital), neither of which has survived. He was born in Glasgow but moved to Kilmarnock at a young age, and married Isabella Railton of Carlisle in 1859. He is not the William Railton who designed Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square. [2] Although the plans for Ayr District Asylum were unexecuted they are interesting by way of comparison with Edwards and Robertson’s plans and as an example of the type of accommodation that was generally provided for ‘pauper lunatics’ in the mid-nineteenth century.

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Elevations

The two-storey range in the foreground with its slender tower rising above the main entrance, was to contain rooms for visitors and new inmates and the apartment of the medical superintendent (on the left with a separate front door). This range sits in front of the main asylum complex which is contained within a walled enclosure. The long three-storey block designed to house the patients is almost devoid of ornament.

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Ground-floor plan

The design provided accommodation for 204 patients in the first instance, with the potential to extend later as funds permitted. The patients were simply divided by gender, males on one side, females on the other, with equal numbers of each. On the female side was the wash-house and on the male side were workshops. A small dead house was located next to the workshops off the airing yard of the male infirmary wing.

IMG_0153Detail of the central portion of the complex with the administration block at the front (bottom of the plan), 

At the heart of the complex on the ground floor was the kitchen, although the dining hall was on the floor above. (On the winning design by Edwards and Robertson the dining hall and kitchen were both on the ground floor.) Here were also rooms for the officers of the asylum, a dispensary, rather a large waiting room, and assorted store rooms.

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Detail showing ground floor male side

The plan was a little old-fashioned for its date, the day rooms lack bay windows and the provisions of baths is distinctly miserly, which might explain why Railton failed to win the competition.

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First-floor plan

The first floor has a similar arrangement of single rooms off a broad corridor at the end of which is a rectangular day room, a further day room occupies the space over the wing for infirm cases. Staff accommodation occupies a central position and there are dormitories over the wash-house and workshops. Rather than for staff these are more likely to be for patients whose condition rendered them fit for work.

IMG_0144Detail showing the Dining Hall at the heart of the asylum. To the front is the entrance or administrative block, with the medical superintendent’s house on the left. 

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Second-floor plan.

On the top floor were dormitories: four large rooms containing from twelve beds to fifteen beds. Just one bath again, and two water-closets.

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Block plan of the main building range

The block plan shows how the accommodation was arranged. The airing yards allowed the patients to be segregated while taking exercise out of doors, and had access to the gardens around three sides of the building, shown laid out with some formality. [3] The medical superintendent has his own private garden, and there appears to be a separate garden in the corresponding position on the other side of the administration block, perhaps also for staff. What is not shown from this detail, is that the admin block faces north-west, the patients’ wings being orientated on a roughly west-east axis, with the single rooms on the north side and the corridors facing southwards.

Notes

  1. Railton’s plans are currently in my possession: Plans by Edwards and Robertson are deposited in the Scottish National Archives, RHP34893: Peddie and Kinnear’s plans are at RCAHMS, National Monuments Record of Scotland, ref: DPM 1860/89/1: Glasgow Herald, 20 Feb 1865, p.5
  2. Nelson’s Column was designed by the London architect William Railton in 1839. The two Williams may have been related, perhaps by marriage, Isabella Railton who married the Kilmarnock William, could have been a cousin of either. Isaac Railton, father of the London architect, was from Throstle Hall, Caldbeck, Cumberland.
  3. Sarah Rutherford is the leading expert on the landscaping of asylums, see for example Landscapes for the Mind and Body

 

Craighouse, Edinburgh: former private asylum, future housing development

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These blue remembered hills… Craighouse in the middle distance, ‘Morningside and Craighouse’ by Pascal Blachier, taken in 2007, imaged licensed under CC BY 2.0

A year ago planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of Craighouse, Edinburgh, latterly the campus of Edinburgh Napier University. The impressive group of Victorian buildings erected in the grounds of Old Craig House were originally a private psychiatric hospital, created as an annex to the Royal Edinburgh Asylum, and possibly the most luxurious private mental hospital ever built in Britain.

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Craighouse, photographed in 2015  © Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The hospital closed in the early 1990s and was subsequently bought by Napier University. With a hefty Historic Buildings Grant, the University refurbished the buildings on the site as a new campus. But in 2011 the University took the decision to close the campus. Plans were submitted to redevelop the site for housing. Despite vigorous opposition from heritage bodies and local community groups permission was granted in September 2014. Oberlanders Architects drew up plans for the development for The Craighouse Partnership, which comprise the conversion of New Craig House into 64 homes. New blocks on the site include Kings Craig, a four-storey terrace of town houses, directly to the south of New Craighouse; a similar block, West Craig, in front of Queen’s Craig villa; another on the east of the site, Burton Villa, and a lower block north of New Craighouse, name North Craig. The new buildings, in a style reminiscent to my eye of 1960s university campuses, mimic the colours of the nineteenth century buildings, in the way that always seems to pass muster these days where there is a desire to be sympathetic to the character of existing  buildings. Very often a pointless exercise, as it seldom seems successful.


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Craighouse, photographed in 2015 © Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A year on, the campaign to modify the plans and lessen the impact of the housing scheme continues and work had not yet commenced. The Craighouse scheme makes an interesting comparison with Holloway Sanatorium, Egham – Craighouses’ nearest rival in terms of a private asylum that was highly decorative and lavishly appointed – which was converted into luxury homes in the 1990s.

When Craighouse was newly opened, the architectural photographer Bedford Lemere was commissioned to record the buildings. This photographic record – eerily devoid of people -preserved at the National Monuments Record of Scotland, provides a glimpse of the surroundings that were thought beneficial in curing those suffering from mental illness at the end of the nineteenth century. The photographs reproduced below are of the communal spaces within the hospital – the grandest of these being the Great Hall.

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Great Hall, Craig House photographed by RCAHMS

In 1894, the Journal of Decorative Art quoted: ‘It is one of Dr Clouston’s leading principles that in the treatment of the insane, their surroundings should be made as bright and as pleasant as possible’.

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Great Hall, Craig House, photographed in 1895 by Bedford Lemere, from RCAHMS

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High-level view of the Great Hall (from RCAHMS)

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Another view of the Great Hall (from RCAHMS)

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Detail of fireplace and doorway in the Great Hall, Craig House, photographed in 1895 by Bedford Lemere, from RCAHMS

The hall was designed as an ‘uplifting’ environment for patients. It was used for social functions including musical evenings, theatrical productions and orchestral recitals.

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General view of Craig House (from RCAHMS)

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North elevation of New Craig House, Sydney Mitchell & Wilson, 1889 – the Great Hall is just to the left of the tower – recognisable from the tall venetian window (from RCAHMS)

Other interiors photographed by Bedford Lemere included the dining-room and sitting-room in one of the detached villas beside New Craig House. South Craig Villa, one of three detached villas designed in 1889 by Sydney Mitchell, accommodated 15 female private paying patients, many of whom were accompanied by their personal staff of servants and attendants. The ladies were classified as first- or second-class patients, depending on how much they could afford to pay, and were allocated a dining room accordingly.

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Dining-Room in South Craig Villa, photographed in 1895 by Bedford Lemere from RCAHMS

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A sitting-room in South Craig Villa (from RCAHMS)

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This plan is labelled as South East Villa, New Craig House – but seems to equate to South Craig Villa (from RCAHMS)

There were less formal rooms within New Craig House, the billiard room photographed here could just as easily be from a country house, there is nothing institutional about the room.

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Billiard Room, Craig House, photographed by Bedford Lemere in 1895, from RCAHMS

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A sitting-room in Craig House, photographed by Bedford Lemere in 1895, from RCAHMS

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A sitting-room in Craig House, photographed by Bedford Lemere in 1895, from RCAHMS

canmore_image_SC00701980The same room, looking the other way, or a similar one? This one also described as a sitting-room in Craig House (from RCAHMS).

The room pictured below may have been belonged to a patients. It is labelled as ‘McGregor’s room’ but I do not know whether McGregor was male or female, a patient or a member of staff.

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identified only as ‘McGregor’s room’, one of the set of photographs of Craig House Clinic taken by Bedford Lemere in 1895, from RCAHMS

Victorian asylums were notorious for their miles of long corridors, in the earlier nineteenth century these were often broad and doubled as day rooms for the patients. The subject of asylum corridors was often hotly debated amongst architects and physicians, perhaps this is why so many of the corridors at Craighouse seem to have been recorded.

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A corridor in Craig House,  photographed by Bedford Lemere in 1895, from RCAHMS

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Another, grander, corridor, described as parlour, East Wing corridor, Craig House (from RCAHMS)

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perhaps looking the other way? This is also described as a corridor in East Wing, Craig House (from RCAHMS)

canmore_image_SC00701977and another corridor in Craig House (from RCAHMS)

Below is a short history of the site extracted from the Edinburgh page of this site.

ROYAL EDINBURGH HOSPITAL, THOMAS CLOUSTON CLINIC, CRAIGHOUSE, CRAIGHOUSE ROAD Old Craighouse dates from 1565, the date appearing over the original entrance doorway. Macgibbon and Ross noted that the house appeared to have been built by the Symsones. A new wing was added in 1746. In 1877 Craighouse estate was purchased by the Royal Edinburgh Asylum and adapted for the accommodation of higher class patients.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 18.12.24Extract from the 2nd edition OS Map revised 1905-6. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

From 1889 to 1894 work on the new buildings was carried out to designs by Sydney Mitchell, these comprised the New Craighouse, East and West Hospital blocks, Queen’s Craig, South Craig and Bevan House. Dr Thomas Clouston was the key figure in the development of Craighouse. He had been appointed as Physician Superintendent to the Royal Edinburgh Asylum in 1873 and in his first Annual Report commented on the state of the buildings:

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Aerial photograph taken by RCAHMS in 2015 of Old Craighouse (top right) and New Craighouse.

As regards our structural arrangements we are undoubtedly behindhand somewhat. We need more accommodation for those who wish the benefits of the institution and can pay high boards… we should be prepared to extend our benefits to the wealthiest …our poorhouses are palatial buildings and in the new asylums for paupers through the country no expense has been spared to make them cheerful and comfortable.

Once Clouston had established patients at Old Craighouse in 1878 he began planning the development of the site in a new and bold way:

Craighouse site affords ample room for many villas of various kinds, surrounding a central block for recent acute cases, kitchens, dining and public rooms. In the construction of these a principle might be adopted which has never yet been fully carried out in asylums, viz of adaptation of each house or part of house to the varied needs and mental conditions of its inhabitants … an asylum so constructed should contain all the medical appliances that would be likely to do good, it should have a billiard room, gymnasium, swimming‑bath and work rooms.

The scheme was long in the forming, in the Annual Report for 1885 Clouston comments that he has been devoting his attention to the principles of construction of hospitals for the better classes of the insane in the last years. He had visited asylums in America and other parts of Britain. In particular the Royal Asylums at Montrose, Dundee, Perth, Glasgow and Dumfries and in England the asylums at Northampton, Cheadle, Gloucester and St Ann’s Health Registered Hospital, the Bethlem Royal Hospital and two private asylums in London. By 1887 Sydney Mitchell had been appointed as architect. Work began in 1889 and the foundation stone of New Craighouse was laid on 16 July 1890 by the Earl of Stair.

There were five principal buildings. The main building or New Craighouse was situated to the west of Old Craighouse and further west again was the west hospital block, Queen’s Craig. To the south of these were the East Hospital, Bevan House and South Craig. New Craighouse was formally opened on 26 October 1894 by the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. South Craig Villa, Bevan House and the Ladies Hospital had already been occupied for some time. The achievement was phenomenal, and on such a vast scale that it remains unrivalled in hospital architecture in Scotland. Variety was the key to the design, variety of style, colour and texture achieved through the finishes, the materials, the varied roof line and every conceivable means. Inside it was sumptuously furnished and fitted up. After 1972 the buildings became the Thomas Clouston Clinic, named after the individual whose personal ideals were embodied in the site. [Sources: Lothian Health Board Archives, Annual Reports of Royal Edinburgh Hospital: RCAHMS, National Monuments Record of Scotland, drawings collection: The Builder, 7 Jan. 1888, p.16; 15 June 1889, p.442; 10 March, 1894, p.203.]

Bangour Village Hospital

Rummaging in the attic I unearthed some old slides of Bangour Hospital that I had taken in about 1990, though with all the appearance of having been taken a couple of decades earlier than that.

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View towards the church at Bangour Village Hospital, photographed around 1990          © Harriet Richardson

It wasn’t the finest day when I visited – dreich to say the least – but the buildings did not fail to impress. The church is the centrepiece of the large complex, though it was built later than the patients’ villas, admin and other ancillary buildings, and while the earlier buildings were designed by the wonderfully named Hippolyte J. Blanc, it was Harold Ogle Tarbolton that was the architect of the church.

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One of the patients’ villas, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

The patients’ villas are a mix of these cream-painted blocks with grey slate roofs and red sandstone dressings.

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A different finish to this patients’ villa, photographed about 1990 © Harriet Richardson

And these  roughly coursed yellowish sandstone blocks with red tile roofs. Both types have those distinctive round-arched dormer heads. The hospital closed in 2004, since when the buildings have slowly deteriorated – the haunt of Urbexers and film crews.

Curved Ridge

Curved Ridge

This is a photograph of Villa 9, near the administration block, ‘Curved Ridge’ taken in August 2012, by SwaloPhoto and licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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This aerial photograph taken by RCAHMS in March 2015 gives a sense of the vastness of the site.

The listed buildings on the site have been on the Heritage At Risk register since the 1990s. Early in 2015 NHS Lothian engaged GVA James Barr to draw up proposals for the conversion of the former hospital to form housing, to aid marketing of the site for sale, with a view to submitting Full Planning Permission later this year. There is a website marketing its development potential www.bangourvillage.co.uk.

The hospital was originally built as the Edinburgh District Asylum from 1898 to 1906, Bangour was planned on the continental colony system as exemplified by the asylum at Alt Scherbitz near Leipzig, which had been built in the 1870s.

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Extract from the OS map published in 1915 showing the heart of the site. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Edinburgh District Asylum at Bangour was begun slightly before that at Aberdeen (later Kingseat Hospital), which was also built on a colony plan, making Bangour the first new asylum for paupers to be built on this system. (The Aberdeen District Asylum at Kingseat, though begun after Bangour, was completed two years earlier). A move towards a colony system had been made at some existing asylums in Scotland, notably the Crichton Royal at Dumfries, from about 1895. The distinguishing feature of the colony plan asylum was the detached villas to accommodate the patients which aimed to create a more homelike environment.

The competition held in 1898 for the new Edinburgh Asylum specified the continental form of plan. Bangour was designed as a self-contained village with its own water supply and reservoir, drainage system and fire fighting equipment. It could be self-sufficient by the industry of able patients.

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Plan and elevation of the hospital block by Hippolyte J. Blanc,1906,  in the National Monuments Record for Scotland collection of the RCAHMS

The site was divided into two sections for the medical and non-medical patients, with power station, workshops, bakery, stores, kitchen and laundry in the middle. The patients’ villas housed from 25 to 40 patients each and varied from two to three storeys. On the ground floor were day-room, dining-rooms and a kitchen with separate dining-rooms for the nurses. The dormitories were located on the upper floors. Another important aspect of the colony system was the replacement of the large common dining halls with smaller dining-rooms within the villas. This was a feature of the Aberdeen Asylum at Kingseat as well as Bangour and the later Dykebar Asylum at Paisley.

The recreation hall, also designed by Blanc, contained a hall measuring 93 feet by 54 feet, with a stage at the north end. By incorporating a lattice steel girder support for the roof, there was no need to use pillars within the hall. There was even an orchestra pit in front of the footlights which was specially constructed to allow it to be covered at floor level when the hall was used for dances.

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The church at Bangour Village Hospital, photographed by RCAHMS in 1993

A church was added to the site in 1924-30 designed by H. O. Tarbolton. Set in a central position on the site and in a severe Romanesque style, it is one of the most impressive hospital churches in Scotland. The dark brown stone of the church contrasts strongly with the cream-painted villas near to it.

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The church, photographed when it was newly built, part of a set of old photographs of Bangour in the RCAHMS collection

In 1931 the nurses’ home, with its two ogee-roofed octagonal central turrets, was extended by E. J. MacRae with a large new wing, blending sympathetically with the original block. [Sources: H. J. Blanc, ‘Bangour Village Asylum’ in Journal of the R.I.B.A., Vol.XV, No.10, 21 March 1908, p.309-26: Lancet, 13 Oct. 1906, p.1031]

The Hospitals Investigator 4

Issue 4 of Robert Taylor’s Hospitals Investigator was circulated in July 1992 and in his editorial he wrote that the theme for this issue would be lunacy, in particular, baths and fire precautions. It concluded with a report on the Cambridge team’s trip to Cornwall and what they found there.

Baths

‘One of the many criminal economies practised in public institutions in the 19th century was the sparing use of bath water. At the Suffolk Asylum at Melton the male attendants used a single filling of the bath for five men, but on the opposite side of the same institution  the female attendants managed to make a single filling serve ten women. This amazing achievement gives a new and unexpected meaning to sexual discrimination. At some asylums things were managed differently, and they put two lunatics at a time into the same tub, thereby ensuring that all and an equal chanced to enjoy hot water. Oxford, however, held the record and regularly managed to bath three at a time, thereby beating Cambridge by a factor of three. We have yet to see the size of the Oxford baths.

Considering that the water was frequently delivered at such a high temperature that patients were in real danger of scalding themselves and the taps could only be controlled by the attendant, one wonders at the temperature of the bath water at Melton when the first woman got in, and when the tenth got out.’

While looking for an illustration of bathrooms in asylums, I searched through the Wellcome Images collection which has this photograph taken around 1930 of Long Grove Asylum, Epsom in Surrey. Shared bath water was no longer acceptable, and a modicum of privacy was afforded by the  fixed screens.

L0015468 Male patients being washe by hospital orderlies. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Male patients being washed by hospital orderlies, Long Grove Asylum, Epsom. In the Royal College of Psychiatrists. circa 1930? Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

L0015468 Male patients being washed by hospital orderlies. Wellcome Library, London.

Fire Precautions in Asylums

‘Methods of preventing the start and avoiding the spread of fire in hospitals have developed in stages, usually one set of ideas at a time.’

‘The first fire precautions in the 18th and 19th centuries were purely structural, along the same lines as the various contemporary local regulations and the London Building Acts. The aim was to make buildings unlikely to catch fire or to burn, in other words, fireproof construction. Most of these techniques had become standard best building practice by the beginning of the 18th century, and included such things as not having timbers let into chimneys. This particular concern can be seen in an obvious form at the workhouse at Tattingstone in Suffolk, where ceiling beams are skewed in order to miss the fireplaces. The use of masonry for walls, and slates or tiles for roof covering were standard from the beginning; timber frame and thatch are not used for purpose-built hospitals.’

 

geograph-4142138-by-Clint-MannTattingstone Hospital in 1990 © Copyright Clint Mann and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence Originally built as a House of Industry in 1766, and later extended as Samford Workhouse, it became St Mary’s Hospital in 1930, finally closing in 1991 and was converted into housing around 2001. see also  http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Samford/

‘At a later date non-burning floor structures were used, called ‘fireproof’ and depending at first on the use of iron beams and shallow brick vaults. This system had the disadvantage that it relied on exposed iron girders, which were liable to buckle in a fire. Later in the 19th century, devices such as hollow bricks forming flat arches, sometimes strengthened by steel rods cased in concrete, were used to avoid this problem and produce a lighter structure. Perhaps the most common fireproofing device is the use of stone for staircase treads, almost invariably combined with iron balusters.’

‘Despite all of these precautions, fires broke out and even spread. Limiting the damage done by a fire was an important consideration, and it is interesting to learn that in asylum building in the middle of the century it was considered desirable to restrict patients to two storeys, for greater ease of escape or rescue in case of fire, as well as to reduce the amount of building that might be damaged. [The Builder, 27 Nov 1852 p.754] This is a contrast with the earlier practice at workhouses, where three-storey main ranges to accommodate the inmates were common. The Commissioners in Lunacy seem to have been particularly concerned by the fire at the Cambridgeshire Asylum  in 1872. No lives were lost, and damage was limited, but the general opinion was that the fire very nearly destroyed the whole asylum.’

VLUU L210 / Samsung L210

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Central block of Fulbourn Hospital, originally Cambridgeshire County Asylum, and now reconstructed NHS offices. (Photograph by Tom Ellis taken in 2009 and licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

‘The boilers and pumps were in the basement of the central block, and as the call for steam and hot water had increased, the size of the boilers had been increased, well beyond the capacity of both the basement and the flues. It seems that this situation was very common, and it was this that led to a new wave of precautions in asylums during the 1870s, particularly after 1875. In that year the reports of the Commissioners on their annual visits to asylums pay great attention to fire prevention, and include descriptions of a number of devices.’

‘The major new concern of this decade was with the provision of a sufficient quantity of water at high enough pressure to extinguish any fire that should break out. Water mains with hydrants were installed both inside and outside the buildings and examined during visitations, when the Commissioners hoped to see an efficient fire drill and a jet of water that toped the highest roofs of the asylum. The pressure was usually produced by a steam engine. A sufficient quantity of water to extinguish a fire was essential and the problem was underlined when the Commissioners visited Ipswich Asylum on the day when each week the water company did not supply water. Under such circumstances a large reserve supply was essential. Tanks at a high level, thereby providing a head of water without recourse to a steam engine that would take time to get going, were favoured. There was a water tower on each side of the establishment at Herrison, Dorset, in 1863.’

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Old postcard with aerial photograph of Herrison Hospital, posted on flickr by Alwyn Ladell and licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Originally the Dorset County Asylum, near Charminster, it has now been converted into housing, with much additional new building on the site, and re-named Charlton Down.

‘A new concern with the structural side of fire prevention is shown in 1874 by the visit to the Leicester and Rutland Asylum of Captain Shaw of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. He suggested a system of intersecting walls with iron doors to prevent the spread of fire. From the way in which the Commissioners in Lunacy reported this visit, one senses that they wished that more asylums would follow the same course and obtain professional advice. The extent to which this was done is not clear.’

 

There is a fascinating set of photographs of the asylum from the University of Leicester Archives and  the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland which can been seen on the website expresseumpoetics.org.uk 

‘In the 1880s the major concern of the Commissioners in Lunacy was with the escape of patients from an asylum should it catch fire. Every ward had to have a second means of getting out, an alternative exit. As many rooms seem to have had only one entrance, this sometimes tested the ingenuity of those responsible. By 1885 the provision of external fire escape staircases was in full swing. The stairs had to be suitable for both infirm and deranged patients to use, and it is interesting to see how many still meet these requirements. It was necessary to have sufficient space a the top of the stair for patients to be prepared for the descent, and the stairs themselves had to be wide and easy. The time scale of this development is shown by the second Birmingham asylum at Rubery, opened in 1882 without fire escape staircases, which were provided in 1886.’

‘References to fire escapes should, however, be interpreted carefully, for not all were fixed to the building. In 1888 Cornwall Asylum bought a fire escape and built a house to put it in; the two similar contraptions at the Norfolk asylum in 1896 were of wood. At Norfolk the Commissioners were more concerned with their inadequate number than with their material. The introduction of fire escapes at asylums continued into the present century. It seems that in workhouse infirmaries the similar provision of fire escapes was about a decade later than in asylums, only getting under way in the 1890s’.

L0012311 Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum, Colney Hatch, Southgate, Mi

Perspective view and ground-floor plan of Middlesex County Asylum, Colney Hatch, later Friern Hospital. Now converted into housing. From the Wellcome Library, London

‘The fire at Colney Hatch on 27 January 1903, when 51 patients lost their lives in a fire in temporary buildings of 1895, brought a new realisation of the problems associated with fire. Rescue had been hampered by smoke, and a new urgency was now given to the containment of smoke in large asylums, particularly on staircases. In that same year, smoke doors were called for at the heads of certain staircases at Knowle in Hampshire, and at the Buckinghamshire asylum the doors with bars that opened onto the staircase had to be made solid. Smoke doors had already appeared in some institutions, as at Northampton in 1901, but are rarely mentioned.’

‘Immediately after the Colney Hatch fire, the Commissioners in Lunacy enquired after other temporary buildings, and tried hard to have them removed. They continued to accept timber framed buildings clad in corrugated iron, particularly it seems when the interiors were plastered rather than clad in boarding.’

A Letter from Cornwall

‘Five days of fieldwork were allotted by the Cambridge Office to investigate … the hospitals of Cornwall… The first that we visited, Truro workhouse, introduced us to the intractable nature of granite and the most informed attempt at Grecian style so far. The granite was so hard and difficult to work that the mason could do no more than produce a blocky outline of what was wanted but the result was still striking.’

‘Much of the county is swept by high, wet, winds, so that most of the early settlements hide in hollows or the lee of hills for shelter. The windward side of a building is often slate-hung to give extra protection. Although rendering houses is not as common as in some other exposed communities, the fashion for rendered walls in the 1920s was welcomed here. The textures are not always interesting, and when the paint is not renewed the effect is usually sombre.’

‘Despite the winds, workhouse were built on hills just as everywhere else in England, although the thick jungle around some of them shows that they are on the sheltered side. Palm trees were an unexpected impediment to photography at Truro and elsewhere. The usual Cornish workhouse consists of three parallel ranges. First comes an entrance range, often single storey; then comes the House, sometimes with short cross-wings but always a linear building with a single-storey kitchen behind. Finally comes either a row of workshops with the infirmary in the middle, or just the infirmary in large workhouses. There is almost no variation on this pattern. Bodmin had a rectangular infirmary, but several including Truro and Redruth had a small U-shaped block usually with a lean-to on the workhouse side There were always two doorways, but the internal arrangements could not be discovered.’

For images of Liskeard Union Workhouse, built 1937-9 to designs by Scott & Moffatt, including a postcard from around 1915 see workhouses.org.uk 

‘Many workhouses also had a small isolation hospital placed close to the main building. Few are dated, including Falmouth of 1871, and that at Bodmin could be 1842. They have a standard arrangement of two wards flanking a central duty room or set of central rooms, and all are uniformly plain. Some may by chance respect the 40-foot cordon sanitaire that was required by at least 1892, but they probably all date from before about 1880. It is interesting to compare them with Suffolk, where the only isolation hospitals associated with workhouses respected the quarter-mile cordon required for smallpox hospitals, and none was recognised closer to the workhouse except at Semer.’

‘Apart from these workhouse examples, surviving isolation hospitals were prominently absent from the cornish landscape, and one of the two that we did manage to find was occupied by such a desperate character that we did not approach too closely. …’

‘The Cornish cottage hospitals were frankly disappointing, for they had been savagely treated by enlargements. A curiously high proportion had a main range and cross-wings type of plan, or appearance, for the plans did not always accord with the outside. Our greatest joy was to discover that the Falmouth hospital, built in 1894 and replaced by a new building on a new site in 1930, survived intact and unaltered…’

 

Images of Falmouth Hospital, designed by H. C. Rogers and built with funds from J. Passmore Edwards can be seen on the web site passmoreedwards.org.uk  

‘Two hospitals, at Redruth and St Austell, and been established with the needs of accident-prone miners in mind, but the buildings told us nothing about these needs.’

‘Cornwall has a large number of ports, and had a corresponding number of Port Sanitary Authorities in the late 19th century. In general they provided makeshift hospitals of no size, and only a fragment of the Falmouth hospital, which also served the local urban population, was discovered. Fowey, constituted in 1886, had a corrugated iron building with a duty room and four beds by 1899; it got its water from a nearby spring, and although last used about 1920 it was still being maintained in 1943.  The Truro hospital was near the centre of the town and has not survived. Perhaps because the provision in the county was so small the Truro workhouse was converted into a 110-bed isolation hospital in 1940, mainly for the benefit of evacuees. We did not notice any evidence of pest-houses to either explain or supplement this poor provision of isolation hospitals.’

See also: old photograph of Truro workhouse on Truro Uncovered website 

former Murthly Hospital, Perthshire

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MURTHLY HOSPITAL   Built as the Perth District Asylum, it was designed by Edward & Robertson, of Dundee and opened in 1864. It was the second district asylum to open in Scotland. Five architects submitted plans from which the Dundee architects were chosen. David Smart designed the Italianate administration block at the centre. In 1885 a cottage hospital was added on the site which later became the nurses’ home. In 1894 two villas were built which were an early attempt at providing accommodation for pauper patients on the colony system. They were named after the pioneers in psychiatry Pinel and Tuke. The hospital closed in 1984.

 

canmore_image_SC01043901-3aerial photograph taken in 2001  © RCAHMS

Now largely demolished and the site developed as a housing estate called Druids Park (inspired by the stone circle on the eastern side of the site).

canmore_image_SC00785510-2south front photographed in 2001 © RCAHMS ref SC 785510

A few of the old hospital buildings have been retained. The administrative block on the north side of the asylum , though considerably altered, which is the only part to be listed (at grade C). Although I previously stated that this was designed by David Smart, and elsewhere it has been dated to 1871, I have been unable to find – or re-find – any evidence of such an addition at that time, and the wing seems to appear on the first edition OS Map, so I am inclined to conclude that it is a part of the original building. (A possible caveat is an advertisement for tenders for the erection of additional offices at the asylum but this is not until 1893) Also surviving are the two villas, Pinel and Tuke, built in 1894 and of similar design by David Smart.

These are historically of great significance, being particularly early examples of detached villas for patients added to asylums. The medical superintendent’s house, to the east of the site, appears to have survived, if so this is also one of the earliest buildings on the site, being part of the first phase of building. Lastly the nurses’ home, added in 1885 by David Smart, which has been incorporated into Stewart Lodge, on the south-west side of the site.

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Staff houses photographed in 2001 by RCAHMS

Perthshire Advertiser gave a list of the contractors for the original building, and noted that the stone for the rubble work was from Arbroath, while the hewn stone, used for dressings and quoins, was from Bannockburn. 

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Lennox Castle

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Lennox Castle in 2014, photographed by Robert Adam at RCAHMS One of a series of aerial photographs of the site

Lennox Castle has been on the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland since 1992, the website provides a good summary of the history of the building and the site. Rather wonderfully, the Book of Lennox Castle produced for the opening ceremony of the hospital in 1936 has been scanned and put online by S J McLaughlin, who has charted the history of the hospital and includes numerous photographs. Records from the hospital are deposited with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives.

An extraordinary aerial photo  posted early in 2014 shows part of the site after the patients’ blocks had been demolished. In 2006 planning permission was granted for this area to be developed as the Celtic FC training centre. Below is an aerofilms photograph, taken from the north in 1953, showing Lennox Castle on the right, and the former female division to the left. But this was only a part of the hospital site overall. The OS map from 1958 shows the other sections of the hospital. At this date the blocks to the north-east formed a separate maternity hospital.

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Aerial photograph 1953 in the collection of RCAHMS

The aerial photograph of that section of the hospital (below) was taken in 1953. It was turned into a maternity unit in 1941, as part of the Emergency Medical Scheme during the Second World War and continued as such until 1964. All the buildings were demolished to make way for a housing development, for which planning permission was granted in 2006.

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Aerial photograph 1953 in the collection of RCAHMS. This shows the former male division which became an emergency hospital during the Second World War and partly used as a Maternity Hospital.

Below is a revised version of the piece I wrote on the hospital around 1990. I remember the hospital quite well, it was one that was particularly impressive, architecturally and for its setting. It was quite a shock to see what has happened since.

LENNOX CASTLE HOSPITAL, LENNOXTOWN   Lennox Castle, situated at the western edge of the hospital complex, was built between 1837 and 1841 to designs by David Hamilton.

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Lennox Castle, before it became a roofless ruin, photographed by RCAHMS

It was designed in a picturesque neo‑Norman style with castellated and battered walls, and an imposing porte‑cochere. In the 1980s there were some fine interiors on the principal floor but the building had suffered badly from subsidence. The external stonework was also in very poor condition near the ground and had been roughly patched up with concrete rendering.

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View of the dining-room ceiling at Lennox Castle, photograph from RCAHMS, nd.

In April 1925 Glasgow Parish Council resolved to build a new Mental Deficiency Institution under the provisions of the 1913 Act. In 1927 Lennox Castle and its vast estate were purchased, and plans prepared for what was to be the largest and best equipped hospital of this type in Britain. It was to provide 1,200 beds at a cost of 1.25 million. Work began in 1929 to designs by Wylie, Shanks & Wylie. The hospital was finally completed in 1936. The site was divided into five sections; a male division, a female division, a hospital section, married staff houses and the engine house. The male and female sections each consisted of ten dormitory blocks for 60 patients. These were split into two main wards with 28 beds and two side rooms with two beds, together with a day‑room and sanitary annexe. Meals were to be provided in two central dining‑halls capable of seating 600 patients each. Above the dining‑hall, accommodation was provided for unmarried male attendants.

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The Assembly Hall, Lennox Castle Hospital, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

Lennox Castle itself was adapted into a nurses’ home. There was also a central Assembly Hall for all the patients, it contained a large hall with a stage and equipment for cinema shows as well as some administrative offices. All the new blocks were built of brick and incorporated many innovative features, in particular the heating system which operated on a system of underground tunnels.

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The dining-hall block, Lennox Castle Hospital, photographed about 1990 © Harriet Richardson

There was a considerable variety of plan and composition which added interest to the site. The Assembly Hall and dining‑halls featured arched windows on the ground floor and each had a central bold entrance bay. On the Assembly hall this comprised a grand arch rising the full‑height of the building and framing the porch, and on the dining‑hall blocks the door was set into an arch, which in turn was in a tall gabled centrepiece. The varied roof-line also added interest. A charming octagonal tea‑room in two tiers with plenty of windows, echoed the tea pavilion at Glen‑o‑Dee Hospital.

Lennox Castle Maternity Hospital and Institution, from the OS map published in 1958. Reproduced with permission of the National Library of Scotland.

During the Second World War the male division (on the map below) was taken over by the government for use as an Emergency Hospital and the male patients were moved to six of the villas in the female division and hutted ward blocks that were constructed near the Castle. Although intended for air raid casualties, the emergency hospital was not needed and so the beds were made available to relieve pressure on hospital accommodation in Glasgow. A post-confinement maternity unit was established at the site in 1941, initially in one villa consisting of three wards, plus another villa that was reserved for gynaecology cases.

The Maternity Hospital from the OS map revised in 1966, after it had ceased to take maternity patients. Reproduced with permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Although Lennox Castle was twenty miles from Glasgow, the maternity provision here, with its beautiful rural surroundings, proved very popular. Initial space for 30 patients was soon increased to 60 by using another villa. A certain number of women each week were transferred after confinement from one or other of Glasgow Corporation’s maternity units. The increasing demand for maternity beds in Glasgow was becoming harder to meet. In 1942 the total number of maternity beds available in voluntary and municipal institutions was 461, including ante-natal beds. In addition there were about 150 in nursing homes, and 44 beds for unmarried girls in four private homes. An extension of 32 beds was made at the Eastern District Hospital, and under the government evacuation scheme beds for expectant mothers were available at Haddo House, Peebles, Kilmacolm and Airthrey Castle.

Further beds were made over for maternity cases at Lennox Castle during and after the war. In 1960 work began on a new maternity hospital at Yorkhill, and additional beds were  provided at Redlands, and Robroyston Hospitals, and pavilions at Belvedere Fever were converted to maternity use, but there were still not enough beds to meet demand. Lennox Castle continued to provide maternity beds until 1964 when the Queen Mother’s Hospital at Yorkhill was completed. [Sources: Glasgow Corporation, The Book of Lennox Castle, Glasgow, c.1936. Glasgow Herald, 15 May 1936, p.12; 29 Sept. 1936, (ill.): RCAHMS, Inventory, Stirling, Vol.2, p.358.]