Dundee Women’s Hospital

South Front of the former hospital, photographed in 2018 © H. Richardson

On the slopes of Balgay Hill to the west of Dundee sits the former Dundee Women’s Hospital. Since it closed in the 1970s it has been converted into private flats. One was for sale when I visited the site in February this year. On a sunny day it is a pleasing building, in a quiet, understated Scottish Arts & Crafts style, with cream-painted harling and twin gables enclosing a balcony and verandah. It was designed by a local architect, James Findlay, and was opened on 24 February 1915.

Detail view of the central balcony and verandah, photographed in 2018 © H. Richardson

The hospital began as a dispensary for women, established in Dundee in about 1891. In October 1895 a committee was formed to consider establishing a small cottage hospital. In the following year the hospital was opened at 19 Seafield Road, near the Tayfield jute works. It claimed to be the first private hospital in Scotland for the treatment of women by women medical practitioners. Three women were the chief promoters of the scheme: the social reformer Mary Lily Walker, Dr Alice Moorhead and Dr Emily Thomson. The aim was not only to provide hospital treatment for women who wished to be treated by women, but also a private home for women with limited means.

By 1911 it had been decided to build a new hospital. Fund-raising events were held, at first with the idea of enlarging the existing building, but Beatrice Sharp offered £4,000 to build a new hospital. A memorial recording her gift can still be seen set into the boundary wall. Beatrice Sharp was the wife of a wealthy industrialist and together they had commissioned Sir Robert Lorimer to rebuild Wemysshall in Fife, creating Hill of Tarvit House in 1907.

Memorial plaque on boundary wall, photographed in 2018 © H. Richardson

Plans for the new hospital were approved by the Town Council in 1912 and two years later the building was completed. However, on the eve of the hospital’s opening a fire broke out causing major damage and destroying all the woodwork. It took another year or so to restore and rebuild the hospital.

The fire was not accidental. It was reputedly an arson attack by suffragettes – a rather surprising target perhaps. The artist and suffragette, Ethel Moorhead was the sister of Alice Moorhead, one of the founders of the hospital. Ethel Moorhead was connected with a number of arson attacks and other militant acts – from smashing windows in London to throwing an egg at Winston Churchill. But she was also the first suffragette in Scotland to be force fed while in prison in Edinburgh in February 1914. Although she was seriously ill after this, she recovered and continued campaigning. It was suggested that she was with her friend and collaborator Fanny Parker in a failed attempt to blow up Burns Cottage in Alloway in July 1914.

Former Dundee Women’s Hospital,  photographed in 2018 © H. Richardson

Whether or not she was behind the attack on the Dundee Women’s Hospital does not seem to be recorded. Suffragette literature was found in the neighbourhood and a message was left at the scene that read: ‘no peace till we get the vote. Blame the King and the Government’, the same message left at similar incidents all over the country. [1] The fire was spotted by a nurse at the nearby Victoria Hospital who raised the alarm. It was reported that late the previous night and early on the morning of the fire, a grey, or slate-coloured motor car was seen in the district containing several women. The night watchman on duty at the hospital also reported seeing three women having a look at the place early one morning after the fire. He thought that they might be ‘of a mind to return to complete their work’ . It was early dawn and the light uncertain. On seeing the watchman the women quickly disappeared. They appeared to be ‘young and well dressed’. [2] The timing was unfortunate for the hospital-  the attack was made in early June, not long before the outbreak of the First World War, after which the suffragettes suspended their campaign.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1921. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

While the rebuilding work was carried out, the hospital moved into temporary accommodation at 19 Windsor Street. At the end of February 1915 the new hospital was officially opened. The two storey building set on high ground with commanding views south over the Tay provided twenty beds. On the ground floor at the east end was a sun room: ‘an ideal little nook … where the convalescents can have a sun-bath at their leisure’. [3] The covered verandah and balcony above were deep enough to allow beds to be pushed out onto them. Inside cream distempering set off brown woodwork, while palms and flowering bulbs adorned the corridors.

Extract from the 25-inch OS map surveyed in 1951-2. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland. This shows extensions to the original building to the north west. 

James Findlay, the architect of the hospital, was born in Alyth, Perthshire, the son of a successful grocer and baker. He was married to Margaret Ann Donaldson, who died in October 1916. Findlay had been articled to John Murray Robertson in Dundee and took over the practice when Robertson died in 1901. Findlay’s chief assistant was David Smith who had worked in the London County Council’s Architect’s Department in 1902-3. While in London, Smith studied at the influential Regent Street Polytechnic and later joined the office of Leonard Stokes before returning to Dundee. He was responsible for much of the design work in Findlay’s practice. Findlay himself was one of the first people in Dundee to own a motor car. He appears in the local press on several occasions for minor traffic offences – he was fined a guinea for exceeding a 10-mile-per-hour speed limit in 1912.

The contractors, like the architects, were almost all local: building work was carried out by James R Anderson, bricklayer, builder and contractor,  E Esplanade, (whose home address in a 1912 directory was given as 4 Morgan Street); the joiners were Alexander Bruce & Son, Victoria Joinery Works, 129 Clepington Road; the plumbers John Orr & Son, registered plumbers and sanitary engineers, 272 Hawkhill; workshop, 31A Ryehill Lane (home 290 Balckness road): slater and harl work, William Brand & Son, slaters and cement workers, St Vincent Street, Broughty Ferry: glazier work, Lindsay & Scott, glass merchants, glaziers, and zinc and lead window makers, 24 to 28 Bank Street, branch 86 Victoria road: painter work, Allan Boath, painter and decorator, 141 and 143 Nethrgate, home – 171 Perth Road: grates, G. H. Nicoll & Co., furnishing and general ironmongers, 18 and 20 Bank Street: heating, Henry Walker & Son, Newcastle: Verandah ironwork, Thomas Russell, smith and engineer, St Andrew’s Iron works, 50 and 52 St Andrew’s street, home – 8 Nelson Terrace: gates and railings, George Mann, blacksmith, 40 Seafield Road: walls, William Bennet, builder and contractor, 41 Reform street, yard , 11 Parker street, home – 93 Arbroath road: roads, David Horsburgh, carting contractor, 65 Trades lane home – Eden villa, 83 Clepington Rd: grounds, James Laurie & Son, landscape gardeners & valuators, Blackness Nursery.

 

This advertisement for James Laurie & Son, who laid out the grounds of the hospital, appeared in the Dundee Directory for 1911-12, reproduced from the National Library of Scotland

The hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 and latterly became an annexe of the Royal Infirmary. It closed in 1975 but was retained by Tayside Health Board until the 1980s when it was sold with outline planning permission for redevelopment. Full permission to convert the hospital into flats was granted to the new owners, Hilltown Property Company, in 1988.

Notes: 1. The Suffragette, 5 June 1914: 2. Dundee People’s Journal, 6 June 1914 p.9: 3. Dundee Courier, 25 Feb 1915, p.4.

Sources: Dundee University Archives, plans: Dundee Courier, 9 Dec 1911, p.624 Feb 1915, p.6, 4 Oct 1916, p.6: Wikipedia: Dundee online planning portal: Aberdeen Press & Journal, 23 May 1914, p.7;  Dundee Evening Telegraph, 9 Nov 1904, p.5; 21 Oct 1907, p.3; 13 Sept 1912, 15 Oct 1913, p.2; Dundee People’s Journal, 30 May 1914, p.9; 7 Oct 1916, p.11; Perthshire Advertiser, 10 March 1943, p.8

 

Margate’s Sea Bathing Hospital

Royal Sea Bathing Hospital, Margate. Photographed in 2017 © H. Richardson

Earlier this year I spent a wonderful weekend in Margate and was fortunate to be staying just around the corner from the former Sea Bathing Hospital. This was a building that I first visited in September 1991. Since then it has been transformed into a gated private housing development, with some very swanky newly built ‘beach huts’ overlooking the bay.

The new ‘beach huts’ at the former Royal Sea Bathing Hospital, Margate. Built in 2016 for the developers, Harriss Property Limited, to designs by Guy Hollaway Architects. Photographed in 2017 © H. Richardson

Back in the early 1990s the future of the hospital was uncertain. Remaining services were then scheduled to move to a new building on the Thanet District General Hospital site. Ten years later the buildings were in a sorry state. In 2001 a planning application was submitted to convert the historic core into luxury apartments.

Extract from the 25-inch OS map revised in 1936. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

What makes the hospital so special is its long history – it claims to be the earliest specialist orthopaedic hospital in Britain if not the world, and was a pioneer in the use of open-air treatment for patients with non-pulmonary tuberculosis. Founded in 1791 by John Coakley Lettsom, the first building went up in 1793-6 to designs by the Reverend John Pridden. Lettsom was a Quaker physician who espoused the benefits of treating disease with sunshine, fresh air and sea bathing.

John Coakley Lettsom (1744-1815),  with his family in the garden of his house in Grove Hill, Camberwell, Surrey. Oil painting by an unknown English artist, c.1786. Wellcome Library

The idea that sea bathing had health benefits was not new. A Dr Wittie promoted sea bathing as a cure as early as 1660 in Scarborough. By the mid-eighteenth century sea bathing for health had become widely popular. The small fishing village of Brighthelmstone  grew into the resort of Brighton on the strength of the perceived healthiness of its especially salty sea as well as through the patronage of the future George IV. Just about any illness was claimed to be curable by the application of sea water – externally or internally, but glandular and respiratory complaints were thought to be particularly likely to benefit from such treatment.

Mermaids at Brighton by William Heath of c.1829 (public domain image via Wikimedia Commons)

John Coakley Lettsom firmly believed in the efficacy of sea air and sea bathing for the treatment of scrofula (also known as the king’s evil, this skin disease is caused by a form of tuberculosis). Lettsom’s idea to found an infirmary at Margate for the poor was given royal patronage almost from the start, so his intention in July 1791 to found the ‘Margate Infirmary for the Relief of the Poor whose Diseases require Sea-Bathing’ soon changed to the ‘Royal Sea Bathing Infirmary’.

This early print shows the main elevation as designed by Pridden and is dated 1793. Reproduced under Creative Commons Licence CC BY 4.0 via Wellcome Collection

Margate, on the north-east coast of Kent, offered sheltered conditions and a moderate climate. It was within easy reach of London by boat. The site was outside the town in Westbrook, a tiny hamlet that remained largely undeveloped until after the First World War. The new building was designed with access to fresh air in mind, with open arcades and verandas. Its clerical architect, the Reverend John Pridden, was an enthusiastic supporter of Lettsom. He was both an antiquary and an amateur architect – not an especially unusual combination of interests in Georgian Britain.

Floor plans and elevation of the infirmary by Darton & Harvey. Wellcome Collection Creative Commons Licence CC BY 4.0

His first design was drawn up as early as June 1791 for a hospital large enough for 92 patients. In the end this proved too ambitious and was simplified to provide for 30 patients. With the plans approved, building work began some time after May 1793 and it was ready by the spring of 1796. Though much altered, Pridden’s building survives at the heart of the present complex.

West façade of the infirmary. Photographed in September 1991 © H. Richardson

Pridden’s design prefigured open-air sanatoria of the early twentieth century, with wards opening out on to colonnades, or piazzas as he called them, so that beds could be pushed out into the open air. There were wards with nine or six beds on either side of a two-storey block containing offices and staff accommodation.

Detail from the OS Town Plan of 1874

The Royal Sea Bathing Infirmary was a charitable institution, funded by subscriptions and donations. Patients were admitted on the recommendation of the governors after examination by a medical board in London. Out-patients as well as in-patients were treated.

Sea Bathing Machine at Margate. Wellcome Collection Creative Commons Licence CC BY 4.0

The sea-bathing element of the treatment was administered under the supervision of bath nurses, who escorted patients down to the shore in the hospital’s own bathing machine in order for them to be fully immersed in the water. In addition to this stimulation, the fresh air and decent food provided were of great benefit.

View of the infirmary from the Nurses’ Home, photographed in 1991. This shows how close the sea is to the hospital. On the left can be glimpsed the flat roof of the 1880s extension.

Until the 1850s the infirmary was only open during the summer. In 1853 indoor salt water baths were introduced. A horse-driven pump forced sea water up from the shore 30 ft below. This facility allowed the hospital to remain open all year round. By then the hospital had expanded, with a new single-storey wing added to the south in 1816 that increased the capacity to 90 beds. Another wing, this time of two storeys, had been added by about 1840 facing north. The extended infirmary was subsequently altered and further extended to give it a more coherent appearance with Greek Revival dressings. It was raised to two storeys throughout, and the west-facing entrance front given a tetrastyle Doric portico (the columns supposedly came for nearby Holland House). The portico was later moved to its present position on the south front.

The new wing added to the west of the hospital in the 1880s. Photographed in 2017 © H. Richardson

Wards for children were added in 1857-8. A large dining hall and a school were also added, connected to the main building by a covered way, and a house for the Governor. More substantial additions were made in the 1880s.

The view from the roof terrace, looking west over the bay towards Westbrook. Photographed in 1991 © H. Richardson

James Knowles Junior produced the designs for a long, single-storey building adjoining the old hospital to the west – hence the re-siting of the portico.

Detail of the ground plan from H. C. Burdett’s Hospitals and Asylums of the World, Portfolio of Plans, 1893, showing the southern end of the new wing.

Funds for the extension were donated by Sir Erasmus Wilson, a director of the hospital who had a house at Westgate just up the coast. He gave £30,000 to build more wards, a heated indoor swimming pool and a chapel. The statue in front of the main entrance is of Wilson, erected in his honour in 1896.

The south front of the former Sea Bathing Infirmary with statue of Sir Erasmus Wilson in the foreground. Photographed in 2017 © H. Richardson

A description of the new ward block noted:

The general wards, which are provided with hot and cold sea-water baths, are utilised largely for “dressing” the tubercular joints and glands, and for sleeping accommodation during unusually inclement weather. For the most part, however, the patients remain both by day and night on the verandah surrounding the “quadrangle”. In this position the patients while in their beds are able to enjoy the sea air both by day and night, while those who are able to move about secure exercise in the grounds and, in suitable cases, sea-bathing on the beach. [PP 1907, XXVII, 406-7]

The ward block also had a flat roof, creating a promenade, protected by an attractive balustrade of pinkish terracotta. To the south of the ward block was the swimming bath, supplied with fresh sea water by the horse pump which piped water to underground tanks.

The 1880s wing, looking towards the chapel. Photographed in 2017 © H. Richardson

More architecturally ornate is the Gothic chapel. Its tall nave and semi-circular apse is reminiscent of Gilbert Scott’s collegiate chapels.

The 1880s wing seen from the east, with the chapel to the left and the former swimming bath building. Photographed in 2017 © H. Richardson

The same part of the hospital – the chapel and swimming bath – in 1991.  © H. Richardson

The interior was given a complex decorative scheme. Stained-glass windows illustrated Christ healing the sick, the virtues, and medicinal plants, while a mural depicted the story of Naaman bathing in the River Jordan.

Chapel interior photographed in 1991

Other murals depicted saints, angels and the Tree of Knowledge. Part of the nave was kept free of seats to enable beds or wheelchairs to be brought in directly from the quadrangle verandah.

The east end of the chapel, with its apsidal end, designed by James Knowles Junior. Photographed in 2017 © H. Richardson

During the First World War the hospital treated British and Belgian servicemen with TB, as well as the wounded and those suffering from shell shock. A new wing, the King George V Wing, was built in 1919-20 to the west of the main complex, but this has now been demolished.

Later additions to the site, including, to the right, part of the George V Wing. Photographed in 1991 © H. Richardson

The last major addition to the site was the nurses’ home, on the corner of Canterbury and Westbrook Roads. Originally built in 1922, it was extended in 1935 from two storeys to four.

The former nurses’ home. Photographed in 2017 © H. Richardson

View of the chapel from the north-east. Photographed in 1991 © H. Richardson

Looking northwards out to sea along the roof terrace. Photographed in 1991 © H. Richardson

Looking east from the roof terrace. Photographed in 1991 © H. Richardson

 

Sources

Anon 1812. An Account of the Proceedings for establishing Sea-Water and other Baths, and an Infirmary, in the vicinity of London…
British Medical Journal (BMJ), 1898, ii, 1768
Cazin, Le Dr H 1885. De L’influence des Bains de Mer sur La Scrofule des Enfants
Colvin, H M 1978. A Biographical Dictionary of British   Architects 1600-1840
Gentleman’s Magazine, vol.LXVII (ii), Oct. 1797, 841; LXXXVI (i), Jan. 1816, 17
Honour, H 1953. ‘An Epic of Ruin-building’. In Country Life, 10 Dec. 1953
 Illustrated London News, 16 Sept. 1882, 298
Kent Record Office, Maidstone
Lettsom, J C 1801. Hints Designed to promote Benificence, Temperance & Medical Science (3 vols)
MacDougall, P 1984. ‘A Seabathing Infirmary’. In Bygone Kent, vol.5, No.9, Sept. 1984, 511-6
Metcalf, P 1980. James Knowles Victorian Editor and Architect
Nursing Times, 10 March 1977, 9-12
(PP) Parliamentary Papers 1907, XXVII. Annual Report of the Medical Officer of the Local Government Board
Royal Sea Bathing Hospital Archives
Strange, F G St Clair 1991. The History of the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital Margate 1791-1971
Whyman, J 1981. Aspects of Holidaymaking and Resort Development within the Isle of Thanet, with particular reference to Margate, circa 1736 to circa 1840 (vol.2)

see also: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/12202268/Luxury-beach-huts-go-on-sale-in-Margate.html

https://guyhollaway.co.uk/news/margate-beach-houses-completed/

 

Dundee Royal Infirmary, now Regents Gardens

Postcard showing the principal south elevation of the Royal Infirmary

Dundee Royal Infirmary closed in 1998, commemorative plaques and other items from the infirmary were transferred to Ninewells Hospital which replaced the infirmary as Dundee’s general and teaching hospital. Since then the original building and the main later additions have been converted into housing, renamed Regents Gardens, completed in 2008 by H & H Properties. The original planning brief for the site was approved before the infirmary had even closed, in 1996. The masterplan was approved in 2000, amended the following year. The architects for the conversion were the local firm of Kerr Duncan MacAllister.

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Aerial photograph of the site in 2010 from RCAHMS

Listed Grade A, the original infirmary, now Regents House, was the last of the former hospital buildings to be tackled. It was reconfigured to provide 63 apartments, with ground-floor flats some having individual main door entrances, and the high-ceilinged flats on the upper two floors featuring galleries looking over the living-rooms. Caird House (listed Grade B, built in 1902-7 as the cancer wing), was turned into 22 apartments and 5 pent-house flats; Dalgleish House, the 1890s nurses’ home, provided 19 apartments; Loftus house, which was originally the Caird Maternity Home and later a nurses’ home, was converted into six town houses; and the small Gilroy House was converted into two houses.

This view of Dundee Royal Infirmary from the Law shows the former Cancer Wing, photographed in 2005 by TheCreator, public domain image on Spanish Wikipedia’s entry for Dundee.

The old wash-house and drying green to the east of the infirmary was built up with housing as part of the redevelopment of the infirmary site. The wash-house itself had been demolished and replaced by the Constitution Campus tower of Dundee College in the 1960s (opened in 1970). By 2015 this was closed and awaiting redevelopment as flats with a cinema, gym, office space etc., known as Vox Dundee (why? who comes up with these names? I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation).

Extract from the 1st Edition OS Map surveyed in 1872. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Dundee Royal Infirmary was officially opened on 7 February 1855, having been completed towards the end of 1854. It was designed by Coe & Goodwin of London. This building replaced the earlier infirmary built in the 1790s in King Street. By 1849 a committee had been appointed to select a site for the new infirmary and a competition was held for the plans. The eminent medical Professors James Syme and Robert Christison of Edinburgh were consulted in the selection of the winning design, and had also supplied a block plan of the necessary arrangements when designs were first invited. Although 30 sets of plans had been submitted by the summer of 1851, only three were considered acceptable and put on display. The Northern Warder was scathing in its criticism of the majority of the plans, which it thought must have been produced by ‘aspiring joiners’ hoping to win the £50 prize for the winning design.

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The main front of the hospital photographed around 1875 from Dundee Valentine Album, RCAHMS

Coe and Goodwin’s design was for a hospital of three storeys on a U‑shaped plan. It was of the corridor type of plan which was generally current before the introduction of the pavilion‑plan. Indeed, it was built in the declining years of corridor-plan hospitals, lending irony to Professor Syme’s description of it as ‘a model after which institutions similar in kind might well be constructed’. It is a bold essay in the Tudor style applied to a large public building (claimed to be the largest public building in Dundee at that time).  David Robertson, a local builder was appointed to erect the building and work was commenced in 1852.

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This more detailed plan is from the OS Town Plans, also of 1871. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Many extensions were built and sister institutions provided, one of the first was a convalescent home at Barnhill built in 1873-7  (since demolished). Problems associated with the plan had to be rectified – the chief of these being the sanitary facilities. One of the key aspects of pavilion-plan hospitals was the placement of the WCs, sinks and baths in rooms that were separated from the ward by a short lobby with windows on each side. This created a through-draught and was designed to prevent ‘offensive effluvia’ from being carried into the ward – bad smells or miasmas that were believed to cause disease. Plans to improve these and to build a new wash-house and laundry were prepared, and other similar institutions visited so as to provide the best and most up-to-date conveniences.

Plan of Dundee, 1906, by William Mackison, Burgh Engineer. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The plan of Dundee above marks the principal additions built to the north of the original hospital in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These have been retained and converted to housing. To the left is the nurses’ home, built in 1896-7 and named after Sir William Ogilvy Dalgliesh, president of the hospital and benefactor of the University’s Medical School. On the right hand side is the Caird Maternity Hospital, designed in 1897 and opened in 1900, named after its benefactor, the jute baron (Sir) James Key Caird. Though marked here as a maternity hospital it served a dual function, with one block for maternity cases and one for diseases of women; the third, central block contained administrative offices and staff residences. It was designed by Murray Robertson. Caird also funded  the cancer wing, built in 1902-7 to designs by James Findlay.

Detail from the OS plan of Dundee surveyed in 1952, showing the extent of the infill building. At this time the public wash-house and allotment gardens still occupied the site to the east. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The map above shows the extent of the extensions and additions to the site up to the 1950s, many of these were demolished following the closure of the infirmary. These included an extension to the west rear wing of 1895 providing a new operating theatre. Another building removed was the maternity wing, which had been opened in 1930, erected and equipped by R. B. Sharp and his brother F. B. Sharp of Hill of Tarvit, Fife (pictured below, and labelled maternity hospital on the map above). The architects were D. W. Baxter & Son. After it was built the former Caird Maternity Hospital was turned into nurses’ accommodation. A further addition providing new dispensary and pathology departments was opened in 1935, named the Sir James Duncan building.

This rather gloomy photograph shows the maternity wing in about 1989-91. It was a plain enough building but the assorted bits of piping, ducting and plant added to the roof and meandering over the wall surface do it no favours. Photograph © Harriet Richardson

This view shows the main front with the maternity wing to the right. Photograph taken c.1990 © Harriet Richardson

The grand centrepiece of the original infirmary with steps leading up to the main entrance. Photograph taken c.1990 © Harriet Richardson

Detail of main infirmary building, showing the end bays of main front with angle turret on the return. Photograph taken c.1990 © Harriet Richardson

Looking west along the main front towards the entrance. Photograph taken c.1990 © Harriet Richardson

Sources: Henry J. C. Gibson, Dundee Royal Infirmary 1798-1948… 1948: Dundee City Archives: The Builder, 23 Aug. 1851, p.529, 16 Oct 1897, p.312; Dundee Courier, 13 April 1895, p.3; 10 March 1896, p.6; 11 Dec 1977, p.4; Dundee Evening Post, 9 Dec 1901, p.4; Dundee Evening Telegraph, 13 Sept 1897, p.2: Dictionary of Scottish Architects; Unlocking the Medicine Chest: PGL ForfarshireThe Scotsman, 23 March 1900, p.4; 16 July 1935, p.7:

For more information on Sir James Caird see the James Caird Society

 

Inverness District Asylum (former Craig Dunain Hospital)

Inverness District Asylum, otherwise known as the Northern Counties Asylum, opened in 1864. Latterly it was renamed Craig Dunain Hospital and treated patients suffering from mental illness until 2000. Since then parts of the building have been converted to housing, while the rest awaits restoration.

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Craig Dunain Hosiptal (Inverness District Lunatic Asylum), photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

The imposing main building, mostly of three storeys, is enlivened by gabled bays and, at the centre, bold twin square towers. It was designed by James Matthews of Aberdeen, who had also established an office in Inverness some ten years earlier. The Inverness office was run by Willliam Lawrie, and Lawrie assisted Mathews in the asylum commission. Mathews had experience in designing poorhouses, and was also architect to the Royal Northern Infirmary in Inverness.

The former Craig Dunain Hospital, photographed from the old golf course in 2005. © Copyright Ivor MacKenzie and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

As early as 1836 attempts were made to set up a lunatic asylum in Inverness. In that year the management Committee of the Royal Northern Infirmary recommended a separate establishment for the mentally ill, recognising the unsuitability of housing such patients in the infirmary. In 1843 a committee was established to promote the erection of a lunatic asylum at Inverness for the Northern Counties and in 1845 the movement gained Royal favour and would have produced the eighth Royal Asylum in Scotland. £4,500 was raised but this was not sufficient to build and endow such a hospital.

Craig Dunain Hospital, AeroPictorial Ltd photograph from 1952. the large building in the foreground on the right-hand side of the photograph was the nurses’ home.

After the Lunacy (Scotland) Act of 1857 the scheme was proposed once more, this time by the District Lunacy Board. In 1859 the Board purchased the site, 180 acres on the hillside above Inverness, and a restricted competition was held for the architectural plans. Designs were invited from James Matthews, who secured the commission, Peddie and Kinnear of Edinburgh and the York architect George Fowler Jones.

Extract from the first-edition OS map surveyed in 1868. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Construction took several years, beginning in 1859. The contractors were Greig & Co. of Aberdeen, masons; A. Duff, Inverness, carpenter; J Gordon of Elgin, plumber; John Russell of Inverness, slater; Mr Hogg of Montrose, plasterer; and Smith & MacKay of Inverness, ironwork. The stone used was rubble whinstone and dressed stone from Tarradale on the Black Isle. The building was opened in May 1864 and was the third District Asylum in Scotland, being preceded by the District Asylums of Argyll and Bute at Lochgilphead, and Perth at Murthly. The first medical superintendent was Dr Aitken, who was accommodated in a ‘commodious and pleasantly-situated house near the Asylum’. This was to the south of institution, screened from view by a belt of trees.

The Medical Superintendent’s House, photographed in 2000. © RCAHMS

George Anderson, solicitor, was Clerk to the Board of Lunacy, the Matron was Mrs Probyn. Mr C. W. Laing was the house-steward, Mr Macrae the head male attendant, Mr Logan the engineer, Mr Finlay the grieve, or steward. [1]

Detail of the extract from the first-edition OS map surveyed in 1868 (above). Turned round to show the main range of the former asylum in greater detail. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The asylum was a palatial building, standing on a magnificent raised site. It was built to the standard scale and plan at this date, being a development of the corridor plan. There was the usual central kitchen and dining‑hall and the whole complex was symmetrical with a basic division of females to one side and males to the other. There was an extensive view taking in the Moray Firth, the light-houses of Lossiemouth and Tarbetness. All round the asylum the hillside was ‘gorgeously covered with gorse or whin’ – but was destined to be turned into farmland to serve the institution.

Craig Dunain Hosiptal, photographed around 1990 © Harriet Richardson

The central section separated the female (east side) and male (west side) divisions. Nearest to the centre were convalescent wards, then at right angles to these were single rooms for the severest cases. Beyond these was an infirmary ward, with a degree of separation from the rest of the building to contain the spread of infectious diseases.

Interior of the main north-south ‘corridor’, this broad space served as a day room, photographed c.1902. © RCAHMS

At the back of the building ran the main staff corridor, which meant that visitors and staff didn’t have to pass through the patients’ day rooms to get from one part of the asylum to another. This was one of the many attempts around this time to design asylums that would provide a more home-like appearance, while still keeping the patients supervised. ‘Everything tending to indicate seclusion or imprisonment is carefully avoided. The windows resemble those of an ordinary dwelling house; there are no cross-bars, and no enclosure walls, beyond those which surround the airing-yards for the worst of cases’. [1]

Day room, photographed around 1902© RCAHMS

The gas-brackets were designed in such a way that if they were broken the gas supply could be isolated, thus keeping the rest of the system in operation. (The gas was manufactured on the premises.) Other safety precautions included blunt table-knives, which could thus be ‘harmlessly seized by the blade, and wrested from the grasp of nay excited patient’.[1]

Female day room, ward 7, photographed around 1902© RCAHMS

As part of the important measures to guard against the hazards of fire, the asylum was constructed with a series of barriers, 80 to 90 feet apart, consisting of a thick, stone party wall with iron sliding doors to allow access from one section to another, but which could be drawn closed in the event of fire.

Interior view of specimen ward, photographed about 1902.© RCAHMS. This appears to be a male dormitory  – possibly an infirmary ward.

The day rooms were supplied with books and newspapers, and there was a piano from the outset, though the one in the photograph above may have been a later instrument. Patients slept in a mix of wards or dormitories and single rooms. The latter were for the sick, aged or refractory. Dormitories had from ten to ‘upwards of thirty’ beds in each and occupied the full width of the building, making them light and airy. The attendants were accommodated in the same rooms.

The Laundry, photographed around 1902© RCAHMS

The laundry, farm-offices and gas works were situated away from the main building. The whole of the work was intended to be done by the patients. The laundry was fitted up with ‘the most approved mechanical contrivances for washing, drying, and mangling’. [1]

The wash-house, photographed around 1902© RCAHMS

Interior of the main kitchen, photographed c.1902. © RCAHMS

The original kitchen was positioned in the central part of the building and communicated with the dining hall ‘by two large windows’, copying the arrangement in English asylums. ‘The patients assemble in the dining-hall and their food having been arranged and placed in vessels for the purpose, is handed through the windows or apertures to the warders, whose duty it is to see that each inmates is duly supplied.’ Dirty plates were passed through another window into the scullery. [1]

The ‘New Main Entrance’ corridor c.1902, © RCAHMS

The hospital claimed to be one of the first to remove its airing courts in 1874. This progressive act was somewhat belittled by the constant complaints of the Commissioners in Lunacy, when they inspected the hospital, of the lack of warmth in the buildings and the poor diet of the patients.

Extract from the 2nd-edition OS map, revised in 1903. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Overcrowding had soon become a problem and additions were eventually made in 1881, with Matthews again acting as the architect. Extensions were erected in 1898 to the designs of Ross and Macbeth for male and female hospital wards which were constructed at each end of the building. Ross & Macbeth had earlier added a byre to the site (1891), stables and a gas house (1895). Later they added piggeries and a slaughterhouse (1901); dining-rooms (1902), and a mortuary (1907). In the 1920s and 30s the hospital expanded further.

Interior of the recreation hall, built in 1927. Photographed in 2000 © RCAHMS

In 1927 a large new recreation hall was provided, designed to blend in with the original building but constructed from pre‑cast concrete as well as red sandstone rubble, instead of the dressed stone used on the original buildings. The hall was large enough to take 400 patients and staff, and could be used as a theatre, cinema or dance hall as well as for less formal gatherings. The projecting bay on the photograph below contained a small kitchen.

Recreation Hall, photographed in 2000.© RCAHMS

In 1936 a new nurses’ home was built in a chunky manner with Baronial traces. It was deliberately constructed from materials which would blend in with the principal block. It provided accommodation for 100 nursing and domestic staff. Two isolation blocks were built around the same time for TB and Typhoid.

The church, Craig Dunain Hospital, photographed in 2000. © RCAHMS

The last major building scheme was the construction of a chapel which was dedicated in 1963. It was designed by W. W. Mitchell of Alexander Ross & Son to accommodate 300 people. It is very simple in style, owing  its origin to plain seventeenth‑ and eighteenth‑century kirks. Indeed, its birdcage bellcote could have come from such a building, though this church was interdenominational.

Former Craig Dunain Hospital photographed in 2016 during redevelopment of the site. © Copyright Jim Barton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Craig Dunain Hospital was earmarked for closure in 1989. This took some years to accomplish, and the hospital only finally closed in 2000. Listed-building consent was applied for soon afterwards to redevelop the site for mixed use, including the demolition of several buildings on the site – including the 1960s chapel. The site was acquired by the developers, Robertson Residential and work began in 2006 to convert the original range into apartments.

 Former Craig Dunain Hospital, during redevelopment in 2010. © Copyright Steven Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

But in 2007 an arson attack caused serious damage. Development shifted to less badly damaged parts of the old hospital, but many of the buildings had deteriorated and had for some time been on the register of historic Buildings at Risk. By 2013 only one part of the old building had been converted and occupied, although new housing had been built in the grounds, and works ground to a halt on the redevelopment of the historic core. To the north, New Craigs Psychiatric Hospital was built to replace both Craig Dunain and Craig Phadraig Hospital.

References
1. Inverness Courier, 16 June 1864, p.3

Sources:
Records of the former Inverness District Asylum can be seen at the Highland Archive Centre in Inverness
The Builder, 6 Aug. 1859, p.527: Architect & Building News, 8 April 1932, p.56: Highland Health Board Archives, Booklet on hospital.

former Royal Alexandra Infirmary, Paisley

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The former Peter Coates Nurses’ Home, now converted to flats, photographed in 2013. This was part of the large complex that was the former Royal Alexandra Infirmary, off Neilston Road in Paisley. © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Royal Alexandra Infirmary was built to designs by T. G. Abercrombie and was, as the recent Pevsner Guide noted, the largest and most prestigious of his Paisley buildings. It was replaced by the present Royal Alexandra Hospital in the 1980s, and whilst some of the former infirmary buildings have been converted to new uses, large parts of this fine building are in a ruinous state.

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Postcard of the Royal Alexandra Infirmary, showing east façade with the circular ward to the right. Why the image is labelled as the Royal Alexandria, rather than Alexandra, I do not know. Answers on a postcard?

The foundation stone was laid on 15 May 1897. The building was richly endowed by the trustees of William B. Barbour who gifted £15,000 to the building fund, and by the local mill owner, Peter Coats, who additionally gifted the nurses’ home. The Clark family were also particularly generous in their financial support.  In all the new buildings were to cost some £73,000, providing 150 beds and ten rooms for private patients. The plan of the infirmary is of particular interest from its incorporation of circular wards in a three storey block to the north. Another distinctive feature were the ward pavilions to the south which terminated in semi‑circular open verandas or balconies.

geograph-3517592-by-thomas-nugentThe same range as above, this wing has been converted into flats and is now known as Alexandra Gate. Photographed in 2013 © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Whilst T. G. Abercrombie’s monumental building has been superseded, it too superseded an earlier infirmary in Paisley. In 1788 a public dispensary was founded in the town from which a House of Recovery was established in 1795. A variety of hospital buildings grew on the site at the west end of Abbey Bridge. Fever wards were provided and for a time cholera was treated here.

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Extract from the OS Town Plan of Paisley, 1858. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1878 grounds adjacent to the house were acquired by the parish council which built an epidemic hospital on the site for 60 patients although it was managed by the infirmary. By that time there were already calls to move the infirmary to Calside, but sufficient funds were not forthcoming.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, surveyed in 1896. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

In 1886 a convalescent home was opened in West Kilbride. The question of moving to a new site was raised again by the Revd Dr Brown, he urged the benefits of a more open site, where ‘the sound of green leaves, the song of birds, and the freshness of the country might float into the rooms’. [Glasgow Herald, 10 Feb 1894 p.9]

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Former Royal Alexandra Infirmary, photographed in 2011 The hospital closed in the late 1980s when the present day Royal Alexandra Infirmary opened nearby. The Gleniffer Braes can be seen in the distance. © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Still nothing was done. Various sums were offered to kickstart a building fund: Dr Fraser offered £1,000 with the condition that he would double if if a new building were erected. William Barbour added £500 to the fund. But the directors dragged their heels. Finally, in 1894 the trustees of William Barbour announced their intention of donating £15,000 to build a new hospital.

geograph-5151020-by-thomas-nugentPart of the main hospital complex of the former Royal Alexadra Infirmary, at the Calside end, photographed in 2016 © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The old hospital was overcrowded, out-dated and its proximity to the fever hospital was not a point in its favour. There was not even an operating theatre, operations were carried out at the patients’ bed – merely with a curtain drawn around it.  Following W. Barbour’s generous donation, a site was offered for the new hospital at Calside comprising Egypt Park and Blackland Place.

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Extract from the 1st edition OS map, surveyed in 1858, showing the site of the Royal Alexandra Infirmary, then occupied by Egypt Park and Blackland Place. The poorhouse was to the south-west. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The first part of the new complex to be built was the nurses’ home, which had been funded entirely by Peter Coats. Occupying the north-west corner of the site, it was formally opened in July 1896. Now converted into flats, the three-storey building is constructed of red sandstone from Locherbriggs quarries in Scottish Baronial style.

The nurses’ home, photographed in 2010 © Norrie Porter

The front entrance was set in an open porch with a broad arched opening topped by a balcony. Originally the ground floor comprised the probationer nurses’ dining-room and kitchen, cloak rooms and seven bedrooms, while on the first and second floors were a sitting and writing rooms as well as more bedrooms. It was ‘sumptuously furnished’ and provided accommodation for about 40 nurses. [Glasgow Herald, 4 July 1896, p.8]

Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised in 1911. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

A gate lodge with dispensary were built on Neilston Road in 1898-1900 (pictured below), and further ancillary buildings were constructed on the south-east corner of the site.

geograph-3516641-by-thomas-nugentFormer Royal Alexandra Infirmary lodge house photographed in 2013 © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The Infirmary closed in 1987 when the new hospital was opened in Craw Road. Part of the main range of the old Infirmary was then used as a care home, the rest was converted into flats in about 1995. The former nurses’ home was converted into flats in 2005-6 by Aitken Turnbull Architecture. After the care home closed in about 2008, this part of the former Infirmary began to deteriorate and was placed on the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland in 2010.

geograph-5151025-by-thomas-nugentFormer Royal Alexandra Infirmary, photographed in 2016 The circular ward can be seen to the left. © Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Inadequately secured by its owners the unoccupied parts of the old hospital have attracted the attention of urbexers, so many photographs of the derelict building can be found online. However, these areas have also suffered badly from vandals who are the main cause of the building’s rapid decline. This is such a fine building. It should be saved,  sympathetically restored and converted to housing, and treasured for its fine architecture and the skill of the masons and builders who erected it. [Selected Sources: D. Dow, Paisley Hospitals, Glasgow, 1988: records at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Archives: Paisley Library, plans: Pevsner Guide, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, 2016. See also Renfrewshire for other hospitals in and around Paisley.]

 

Stone House Hospital, Dartford – now The Residence

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Former Stone House Hospital photographed in 2005. The main range of the former hospital is now known as The Residence.  © Copyright Glyn Baker and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A short hop from the Bluewater shopping centre is the former Stone House Hospital, built in the 1860s as the City of London Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The hospital was closed in 2005, a process that had begun some years before, and the buildings remained empty and slowly deteriorating for around seven years before planning permission was given for the redevelopment of the site for housing.

Stone House Hospital, administration block, photographed in 1992.

The P. J. Livesey Group carried out the development. Listed building consent was granted in 2012 for the conversion of the main hospital range, the former superintendent’s house (the Hollies), coach-house and stable buildings to provide 93 dwellings and a private gym, change of use for the chapel to offices. Consent was also given for the demolition of the female infirmary, boiler house, laundry rooms, mortuary and associated buildings. A total of 260 residences were planned for the site.

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Stone House Hospital, near Dartford in Kent, built as the City of London Pauper Lunatic Asylum and opened in 1866. Extract from the 2nd-edition OS Map revised in 1895, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The Corporation of London dragged its heels over building a pauper lunatic asylum. They acquired a site at Stone near Dartford in Kent in 1859 from C. White Esq of Barnsfield. Plans were commissioned from the City Clerk of Works, J. B. Bunning. Arguments rumbled on over how big the asylum should be, or if it were needed at all, but after a few revisions of the plans, work finally began in 1862. Progress was painfully slow. With work still far from complete, Horace Jones replaced Bunning as City Architect in 1864.  Jones supervised the completion of the building which was officially opened on 16 April 1866.

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Engraved view of the City of London Asylum, 1866.

The year before the Visiting Committee reported that the furniture, bedding and general stores had, for the most part, been delivered. An arrangement had been made for the gas supply from Dartford, but the water supply was insufficient. The Committee recommended that patients should not be transferred to the new asylum until the spring, because of the ‘bleak and unsheltered situation of the asylum’. Committee members were also concerned that this bleakness also applied to the interior, where the walls were just ‘rough brickwork whitewashed from the ceiling to the floor’. They feared the contrast would make for an unpleasant change for the poor patients and called for walls to be painted or papered with a cheerful-coloured pattern.

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Former Chelsea Ward. Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Peter Aitkenhead. 

The City Asylum was contemporary with various second county asylums: Dorset, Surrey, Staffordshire, and Cheshire, and a number of other city asylums, such as Norwich, Newcastle and Bristol. Its plan demonstrated the refinements that were being introduced to the established corridor plan, having broader corridors, large day rooms and dormitories and fewer single rooms.

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Stone House Hospital, former canteen. Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Peter Aitkenhead. 

The asylum was extended many times following its completion, with new wings added in the 1870s, an isolation hospital in 1885 (the cottage hospital, now demolished), and extensive additions in the late 1890s.

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Extract from the 25-inch OS Map revised in 1931, reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

A detached chapel (St Luke’s) was built to the north of the main hospital range in 1898-1901 to designs by Andrew Murray. The original chapel, which was at the heart of the main building above the dining-hall, was then converted into a recreation room ‘for concerts, dancing and theatrical amusements’. Whereas the site of the asylum had been described as bleak and unsheltered in the 1860s, it was now commended as being ‘notable
for its salubrity’, commanding a view of the Thames and a charming rural panorama.

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Stone House Hospital chapel, photographed in 1992. 

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Stone House Hospital chapel, photographed in 1992. 

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East end of the chapel. Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Peter Aitkenhead.

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Stone House Hospital Chapel, west window. Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Peter Aitkenhead.

Sources and References: 

The surviving archives of the hospital are in the London Metropolitan Archives – ref: CLA/001: Gravesend Reporter, North Kent and South Essex Advertiser, 31 March 1860 p.4 : London City Press, 16 Dec 1865 p.3: Illustrated Times, 31 March 1866, p.205: Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 19 June 1898, p.1: Building Design, 23 July 2010, 4: Lost Hospitals of London: P. J. Livesey Group websiteParliamentary Papers, Reports of the Commissioners in Lunacy.

 

Napsbury Park, formerly Middlesex County Asylum

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Napsbury Hospital, photographed in 1992. In the centre is the dining hall, with ward blocks on either side.

This leafy residential development near St Albans, within sight of the M25, has been established on the site of Napsbury Hospital, incorporating many of the former hospital buildings. Re-named Napsbury Park, the development took place largely between 2002 and 2008.

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North side of the former dining hall,  photographed in 2009 © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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The same view in 2007, showing the extent of the rebuilding on this side of the dining hall. The new work  was designed to replicate the south front, seen below. Originally this side was linked to the central service buildings – the kitchen was immediately to its north. © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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The south side of the  dining hall, photographed in 1992.

The asylum was designed by Rowland Plumbe in 1900 to serve the county of Middlesex. Following the Local Government Act of 1889 and the formation of the London County Council, the former Middlesex County Asylums at Hanwell and Colney Hatch were taken over by the LCC, while the former Surrey County Asylum in Wandsworth (Springfield Hospital) was transferred to Middlesex. The need for a new institution was soon recognized and in 1898 the estate of Napsbury Manor Farm was acquired. In the same year the architect Rowland Plumbe and the Medical Superintendent of Springfield Hospital, Dr Gardiner-Hill, visited asylums in Scotland where a new type of asylum plan was evolving, inspired by the continental colony system.

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Map showing the former asylum as first designed, with the large échelon-plan main complex on the left, the separate acute hospital to its right, farm buildings on the north side, an isolation hospital to the left and in amongst these, the five detached villas and a  chapel.

Plumbe’s design that he presented to the County’s Asylums Committee introduced elements from the Scottish system, such as the separate hospital section and detached villas, as well as a typical English-style échelon-plan main complex. In part this was a necessary compromise, as English asylums tended to be considerably larger than their Scottish counterparts and so detached colony-sytle buildings for all patients were uneconomic –  Napsbury was designed for 1,152 patients.

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Postcard of Napsbury Hospital, unknown date. Reproduced courtesy of Peter Aitkenhead. The conical-roofed structure in the middle ground was one of the garden shelters that were provided in the gardens attached to each ward block. 

The foundation stone was laid on 26 February 1901; the building contractors were Charles Wall Ltd of Chelsea, a firm with considerable experience in hospital construction. An arrangement was made with the Midland Railway Company to provide a station on the Company’s line, to the north west. A branch line was constructed from there directly to the heart of the main asylum complex, with sidings near the boiler house for bringing in coal.

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Extract from the 25-inch OS map, revised in 1922, showing part of the Napsbury Hospital site with the Napsbury Siding shown coming into the site past the farm, by the chapel and arriving at the boiler house, stores and kitchens.

William Goldring was commissioned to design the landscape setting, having earlier been brought in to take over the landscape design for Kesteven Asylum (later Rauceby Hospital) near Sleaford. The OS map below shows the network of curved paths amongst trees and shrubs laid out around the main complex.

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Extract from the 1922 25-inch OS map showing the main complex. The female side was on the west (left-hand side); it was considerably larger than the male side as female patients outnumbered males. 

Each ward block had its own garden area in front, and picturesque circular shelters were provided, as focal points and providing somewhere to sit.

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One of the thatched, circular garden shelters, photographed in 1992, in a state of disrepair.

As well as garden grounds, there was a cricket pitch with pavilion on the south side of the main complex.

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The Arts & Crafts-style, thatched cricket pavilion, photographed in 1992 (since demolished).

On 3 June 1905 the new asylum opened. The main complex provided accommodation for 650 patients, its dog-leg échelon plan allowing for a higher proportion of female patients to males. Patient ward blocks, designed as far as possible in the style of large detached villas, were linked by single-storey corridors, and each block was allocated to a different class of patient depending on their diagnosis. In the terminology of the time these were: sick, infirm, epileptic, chronic, chronic refractory and working patients.

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View along one of the main corridors. The characteristic brown-glazed bricks are probably the original finish – hard wearing and easily cleaned. Photographed in 1992.

Each ward block comprised day rooms, dormitories and single rooms for the patients in addition to attendants’ rooms. These were floored with pitch pine coated with ‘Ronuk’ polish. Doulton and Company’s faience open fires, supplemented by hot-water radiators, provided the heating, and the sanitary annexes, containing the baths, wash basins and WCs, were separated from the main patient areas by cross ventilated corridors in the usual manner.

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One of the male ward blocks, photographed in 1992

The ward blocks each had a fire escape and goods lift and were designed so that any outbreak of fire could not spread to the adjacent blocks. As part of this fire-proof construction, the main stairs were of cement concrete with York stone treads.

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Scrubbed up, one of the former ward blocks now converted into housing. The block on the right is a modern replica.  Photographed in 2007  © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Ward interior, probably dating from the First World War. Reproduced courtesy of Peter Aitkenhead.

A large common dining hall was situated at the centre, dividing the male and female sides of the complex. To the north of the dining hall was the kitchen, kitchen offices and stores. On the male side were the boiler house, workshops and water tower. The laundry was on the female side.

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The water tower and the service area of the main complex comprising boiler house, kitchens, stores and workshops. Photographed in 1992.

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The water tower photographed in 2007, with housing development around it replacing the old hospital service area. © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

On the north, counterbalancing the dining hall, was the administration block. This imposing gabled building of two storeys had a squat square tower over the main hall and a stubby porte-cochère before the main entrance. It contained the committee rooms, offices and quarters for the assistant medical officers.

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Administration block on the north side of the main complex, photographed in 1992

The separate hospital for admissions and cases requiring observation and medical treatment was situated to the east of the main asylum complex and was completely detached from it and independent, except for a subway carrying steam pipes. It had its own water supply, laundry, kitchen, dining and recreation hall.

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Main entrance of the former hospital section, photographed in 1992

The administration block was on the north side, in a similar style with a multi-gabled façade and mullion and transomed windows. It was of two storeys and attic with a central entrance leading to the main entrance hall and fernery. In addition to office accommodation, it also contained rooms for photography, a museum and research laboratory. The hospital provided 250 beds in single-storey ward blocks. Convalescent and nursing cases occupied the blocks on the south side, the sick and infirm those to the east and west.

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One of the detached villas, photographed in 1992. View from the east of one of the pair of villas built for working female patients to the north west of the main asylum complex. These were altered, extended and linked together by a single storey range to the south. They have not been retained in the redevelopment of the site.

Dotted about the park were five detached villas, these were originally designed to accommodate working patients, convalescent patients soon to be discharged and private patients (‘paying guests and artisans’). Each could house fifty or fifty-two patients, sleeping in small dormitories, with sitting rooms and dining rooms.

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-11-12-25Detached villa, photographed 1992. This was the farm villa, designed for male, working patients. It has not been retained as part of the redevelopment of the site. 

There was also a small isolation hospital, on the edge of the site near the railway line, with its own separate services. It was extended in the 1920s and 30s. Other ancillary buildings included a post-mortem department, medical officer’s house, staff housing, chapel and farm buildings.

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Former isolation hospital, photographed in 1992

Only a few years after the hospital opened Rowland Plumbe was asked to prepare plans for additions and alterations – accommodation was needed for another 600 patients and improvements had to be made to the drainage.

Napsbury War Hospital, First World War. Reproduced by courtesy of Peter Aitkenhead

During the First World War the hospital was taken over by the Army. By 1915 the Army had realised that it needed considerably more accommodation for those suffering from ‘war strain’, and entered into negotiations with Middlesex County for the use of parts of its asylums at Wandsworth and Napsbury. The acute hospital at Napsbury and two of the villas (for convalescents) were transferred to the Army in 1916. Napsbury War Hospital provided 350 beds and was allocated to the severest cases. In May of the same year, the remainder of Napsbury Hospital was also handed over to the Army for general medical and surgical cases, with 1,600 beds for soldiers invalided home from the front.

Napsbury War Hospital, First World War, photograph showing patients and staff. Reproduced courtesy of Peter Aitkenhead.

The largest addition to the site after the First World War was a new nurses’ home built to the south of the main complex and west of the cricket ground.

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Former Nurses’ Home built in the 1920, photographed in 1992

By the early 1920s one of the detached villas, that nearest the hospital section, had been taken over as a nurses’ home.

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Built as a detached villa for female paying patients to the south-east of the hospital section. An identical villa for male private patients was built to the north-west of the hospital section, but later turned into a nurses’ home. Both have been converted into housing. Photographed in 2006 © Copyright Martin Addison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

When we visited the site in 1992 as part of the RCHME Hospitals Survey it was still a hospital for those suffering from mental illnesses. The staff were very welcoming, allowing us to go over the site and photograph the outsides of the buildings, although one person was disturbed by the sight of the camera (the phrase ‘tupenny-ha’penny photographer’ was thrown in our direction).

The hospital closed in 1998, although a small psychiatric unit remained on site until around 2002. The grounds were designated by English Heritage as a Grade II historic park in 2001, recognizing the importance of this rare survival of a public landscape designed by William Goldring. The hospital buildings were listed, also Grade II, in 1998. Crest Nicholson acquired the site in about 2002. Around 545 residences have been created in a mix of apartments in the converted buildings alongside new detached and terraced houses the masterplan and detailed designs were drawn up by Design Group 3 architects. Much has been demolished – all the service buildings at the core of the main asylum complex, apart from the water tower, the ward blocks of the hospital section and some of the villas, but the footprint has been retained – paths or roads replacing the distinctive corridor that linked together the ward blocks. The new buildings have been designed to match the old in the use of warm orange-red brick, and in style they take their cue from Rowland Plumbe’s buildings. Generally it is one of the better examples of the re-use of a former asylum complex.

References

The Builder, 31 August 1901, p.198; 17 June 1905, pp.651-2; 1 Feb. 1908, p.127: Building News, 2 June 1905, p.780: Hertford Library, H362.11, brochure for the opening of Middlesex County Asylum: PP XXVIII.381 c.899, 1920, History of the Asylum War Hospitals in England and Wales

See also

There are more photographs on the County Asylums website. St Albans out of sight out of mind for more photographs, and memories of working at the hospital. Lost Hospitals of London  has further photographs, history and references. Crest Nicholson’s brochure and advertising for the redeveloped nurses’ home (Napsbury Quarters) can be found on their website. More information on William Goldring can be found on the Parks and Gardens website.

 

 

 

Storthes Hall, former West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum

StorthesHall4Postcard of Storthes Hall Asylum, Kirkburton, West Yorkshire when newly built. Reproduced courtesy of Peter Aitkenhead.

Storthes Hall was the fourth, and last, pauper lunatic asylum for the West Riding of Yorkshire. The first section, designed as an acute hospital, opened in June 1904. This was similar to the earlier acute block added to the Wakefield asylum in 1899. Only the gate lodge and the administration block of this section now survive, the remainder of the buildings providing the footprint for Huddersfield University’s student village that now occupies the site. The larger section to the south-west (pictured above), has also been demolished with just the administration block remaining in a ruinous state.

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Detail from the 6-inch OS map, revised in 1904-5. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The West Riding Asylums Committee decided to build their fourth pauper lunatic institution around 1897 and purchased Storthes Hall, together with a large part of the estate, from Thomas Norton in 1898. By January 1899 the county surveyor, Joseph Vickers Edwards, had visited the most recent asylums built in England and Scotland and presented a report to the Asylums Committee. The Commissioners in Lunacy advised that they would not approve an asylum designed on the village or colony principle, a type that was emerging as an ideal form for mental hospitals around this time. They agreed to sanction plans for the acute hospital provided that it was entirely separate from the general  asylum complex. Originally this section was to have 200 beds (100 each of male and female patients), the general asylum was to accommodate 1,200 patients and be capable of enlargement. [1]

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Interior of one of the broad corridors of the asylum which served as day-room space. Reproduced courtesy of Peter Aitkenhead.

The acute hospital was symmetrically arranged with two blocks or wards on either side of the central administrative section, each for 50 patients, one for sick and infirm, the other for recent or acute cases.  Flanking the hospital were two detached blocks, or ‘cottage homes’, designed to house 36 chronic, healthy patients each, who would form part of the labour force for the asylum. [2]  To the south-west of the acute hospital was the central boiler house and laundry, with laundry residence, these sections were constructed in 1902-3 by John Radcliffe & Sons, Huddersfield (acute hospital) and William Nicholson & Sons, Leeds (laundry and boiler house). [3] The rest of the complex was commenced in 1904 once the acute hospital was completed, with Radcliffe & Sons as the building contractors.

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Extract from the 1:25,000 OS map published in 1955. The acute hospital is to the north, the boiler house and laundry section centrally place and the large echelon-plan complex was for general cases. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

Joseph Vickers Edwards, who designed the asylum, was the County Architect. He also designed High Royds Hospital, the third West Riding asylum, in 1885 (built in 1887-9), and the hospital blocks at Scalebor Park, which opened in 1902 as an asylum for paying patients. Edwards was born in Liverpool around 1852, and trained as a civil engineer. He had been the borough engineer for Burnley before he was appointed as the deputy surveyor and architect to the West Riding in the late 1870s under Bernard Hartley. As County Architect he initially had responsibility for roads and bridges as well as all the other local authority buildings. He designed a number of public and council buildings: additions to County Hall, the police headquarters at Wakefield, the teacher-training college at Bingley, and inebriates’ reformatory at Cattal. He was remembered as a genial man, popular with his staff and ‘moderately fond’ of sports – mostly cricket. [4]

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Postcard of Storthes Hall Asylum, showing the admin block of the general asylum.  Reproduced courtesy of Peter Aitkenhead.

Later additions to the site included: 1909 post-mortem room; 1915 isolation hospital; 1934 tenders for Assistant Medical Officers residence, W. H. Burton, architect; 1935 Clerk of Works house, extension to the nurses’ home also by Burton; 1939 Medical Superintendent’s house.

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The admin block of the general asylum, photographed after the rest of the huge asylum complex around it had been demolished. By Bilko123 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Small-town hero, Public Domain.

Storthes Hall itself, a private house to the north east of the hospital site, was used as an institution for the mentally handicapped, and was known as the Mansion Hospital. After it closed in 1991 it reverted to a private residence. In 2005 outline planning permission was granted for building a retirement community on the site of the former general asylum complex. An extension to the time limit was granted in 2012, considerable delays had ensued with arguments over the inclusion of affordable housing in the scheme. Revised plans were approved in 2016 which include converting the derelict admin block into a residential care home.

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Detail from an early postcard of Storthes Hall Asylum, probably dating from around the time of the completion of the buildings in the early twentieth century. Reproduced courtesy of Peter Aitkenhead.

For more images of the asylum and details of its history see highroydshospital.com, the website for Storthes Hall Park student accommodation has photographs, mostly interiors, of the Huddersfield University’s student village. Historic England Archives holds a file on the hospital, ref: BF102003. Recent bird’s-eye aerial photography of the site can be seen on Bing.com/maps.

Select references:

  1. Huddersfield Chronicle, 12 Jan 1899, p.4
  2. Huddersfield Chronicle, 5 July 1900, p.3: Building News, 21 July 1900, p.61
  3. Leeds Mercury, 1o Oct 1901, p.2
  4. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 6 May 1913, p.7

Belvidere Hospital

Practically no trace now remains of Belvidere Hospital, a large housing estate having been built on the site. The Belvidere once played a key role in protecting the population of Glasgow from the ravages of infectious diseases, including smallpox. The hospital was built on the most up-to-date plan, and took shape over a prolonged period of construction beginning with temporary wooden huts that were later replaced by brick buildings.

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Belvidere Hospital, central ancillary building, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

Epidemics of infectious diseases were amongst the major threats to life to the urban poor, living in the overcrowded districts of the rapidly expanding and industrialising city. Although the parochial authorities made some provision for paupers, this was very limited and strictly speaking only paupers were eligible for admission. From 1862 local responsibility for public health in Glasgow rested with the Board of Police, and it was under their auspices that a temporary fever hospital was built in Parliamentary Road in 1865. Proximity to the centre of population and a restricted site rendered the hospital inadequate in the face of a severe epidemic of relapsing fever in 1870. As a result, Belvidere House and its 33 acre estate were purchased to provide a site for a permanent fever hospital.

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Low Belvidere House and grounds in the 1850s, later the site of Belvidere Hospital. Extract from OS Town Plan of Glasgow, 1857. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The original house was built by John M’Call, a leading merchant of Glasgow, who died there in 1790. It then passed to his son-in-law Robert M’Nair, a sugar-refiner, who sold up in 1813 to Mungo Nutto Campbell. Campbell sold it on around 1820 to David Wardrop who exploited the coal on the estate, and over the following decades the house and grounds were passed from one industrialist to another. (See The Glasgow Story for more on the history of the house and a photograph by Thomas Annan taken in 1870.)

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Detail of the 1st Edition OS Map, surveyed in 1858, showing Belvidere House. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland 

John Carrick, the Glasgow City Architect, was responsible for drawing up plans for the new hospital. The first ‘ temporary shed’ was occupied on 19 December 1870. Eight timber pavilions were planned, four had been finished and partially occupied by Christmas, and two were expected to be completed before New Year.

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Belvidere Hospital, former smallpox ward blocks, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

In 1871 it was decided to build a separate smallpox hospital at Belvidere. Great lengths were taken to ensure that the most up-to-date features were incorporated in the design and many other hospitals were visited to this end, including the Herbert Hospital in London ‘reputed to be the finest specimen of a pavilion hospital in existence’. The local press had called for the design of the new hospital to reflect ‘the experience and results of modern science’, hoping that the authorities would not adopt the ‘old style of building tall structures’ but rather would follow the model of the recent temporary blocks at Parliamentary Road built on the pavilion principle ‘so strongly advocated by Miss Nightingale, and by writers on the subject of hospital accommodation’. The ‘temporary’ hospital blocks at Parliamentary Road were anticipated to last for around twenty years. There were those in the medical profession who considered that after occupation for that period of time all hospitals should be remodelled, if not entirely razed and rebuilt.

Belvidere 17Belvidere Hospital, one of the central buildings, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

Nothing seems to have been done immediately but in 1874 plans were drawn up for the new permanent structures. Five single-storey, brick ward pavilions were built, though still described as ‘partially erected ‘ in December 1875, as well as the necessary ancillary buildings. These works were completed in 1877. The pavilions were aligned roughly north-south, and each was divided into four wards, two for acute cases in the centre, two for convalescents at the ends. The flooring was of close-jointed oak, the inner walls coated with Keen’s cement and the wards warmed by hot-water pipes and open fires. Roof-ridge ventilators  (Boyle’s) were a distinctive feature on the outside of the buildings.

Belvidere 12Belvidere Hospital, one of the ancillary buildings, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

To the south-east was a large wash-house. Matrons’ and medical superintendent’s houses and dormitories for the nurses occupied a position at the north-east corner of the grounds, close to which was  the morgue. The original kitchen block stood opposite the north end of the central pavilion, it was surmounted by a small spire, which also served as a bell tower and clock. It was designed to minimise contact between the kitchen staff and the nurses: a platform under a verandah on the southern side of the kitchen allowed the nurses to receive the food which was served through a window.

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Bartholomew’s New Plan of Glasgow… 1882. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The grounds were laid out into plots of shrubs and flowers by Mr M’Lellan, the Superintendent of Glasgow city parks. The team working alongside the architect were James Hannah, clerk of works; John Porter, builder; William Lightbody, joiner; Robert Nelson, plasterer; Wallace & Allan, plumbers and gas-fitters; John M’Ouatt & Sons, slaters; and James Comb & Son, heating engineers.

In 1879 work began on permanent buildings to replace the temporary sheds of the fever hospital on the south-east side of the site. Four brick pavilions were built to begin with. In 1882 the Medical Officer for Health in Glasgow, J. B. Russell, produced a ‘Memorandum on the Hospital Accommodation for Infectious Diseases in Glasgow’, which resulted in the further expansion of the site. Russell’s memorandum itemised the requirements for a large infectious diseases hospital and considered various details of its construction.

Belvidere 3Belvidere Hospital, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

Over the course of the next five years pavilion after pavilion was added until there were thirteen altogether, providing 26 wards and a capacity for 390 patients. In addition there were ancillary buildings, providing kitchens and laundries etc, so that the hospital was as self-sufficient as possible, thus limiting the number of visitors to the site. The extended hospital was officially opened on 4 March 1887.

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Extract from the 2nd edition OS map, revised 1892-3. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The simple polychrome of thin, horizontal bands of white amongst the red bricks created a streaky bacon effect. This unusual construction for hospital buildings in Scotland gave them a utilitarian air reminiscent of Glasgow’s industrial buildings.

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Aerial photograph taken in 1952, from Britain from Above. The river Clyde is in the foreground, the smallpox hospital to the left and fever hospital to the right. 

In contrast to the polychrome-brick of most of the buildings, stone was used for the large administration block, which also contained the nurses home, recreation hall and senior staff residences. It was a large, somewhat austere building erected on the site of the original Belvidere house. The central range was designed as an echo of the house it replaced.

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Belvidere Hospital, administration block and staff accommodation, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

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Belvidere Hospital, detail of the administration block and staff accommodation, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

In 1929 a house was provided for the Medical Superintendent and a new observation ward was opened in 1930. After the inception of the National Health Service in 1948 various additions were made and changes in function introduced. Two important developments at Belvidere were the opening of the first Cobalt Therapy Unit in Scotland in February 1961 and in March 1973, the opening of the second Neutron Therapy Unit in Britain.

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Belvidere Hospital, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

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Belvidere Hospital, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

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Belvidere Hospital, photographed around 1990 © H. Richardson

The hospital closed in 1999. After years of neglect the derelict buildings were mostly demolished in 2006 – all except the administration block and nurses’ home. Hypostyle Architects acting for Kier Homes Ltd designed the masterplan for the site development. Divided into three zones: high density urban blocks, urban terraced housing, and low density sub-urban housing. The high density section nearest the London Road comprises four-storey blocks of flats and three-storey town houses. The terraced housing, of two stories, creates a buffer zone between the flats and the low-density housing on the south side of the site. Original plans to convert the listed admin block were subsequently scrapped and permission granted to demolish the remaining shell of the central block for more low-density housing. The original master plan was for 351 residential units: 145 flats, 115 townhouses and 91 houses.

Sources: 

Glasgow Herald, 24 Dec 1870 p.3; 22 Nov 1875, p.5; 3 July 1877 p.2; 5 March 1887, p.9: Strathclyde Regional Archives: Account of Proceedings at Inspection of New Hospital for Infectious Diseases erected at Belvidere, 1877: J. B. Russell, ‘Memorandum on the Hospital Accommodation for Infectious Diseases in Glasgow’, 1882: ‘Report of proceedings at Official Inspection…’, 1887 Corporation of City of Glasgow, Municipal Glasgow, Glasgow, 1914: The Builder, 4 Dec 1875, p.1083; British Architect, 22 July 1887, p.70: Hypostyle Architects website

Bristol Lunatic Asylum, now the Glenside Campus of UWE

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Glenside Hospital as it was in 1992 ,  © H. Richardson

For nearly twenty years now the faculty of Health and Applied Sciences of the University of the West of England has occupied the old Bristol Lunatic Asylum. The asylum, latterly Glenside Hospital, was wound down from 1993 when it merged with neighbouring Manor Park Hospital.  New facilities for mental health patients were constructed on that side, and it was renamed Blackberry Hill Hospital. The University faculty was formed in 1996 when the existing faculty of Health and Community Studies merged with Avon and Gloucestershire College of Health and Swindon College of Health Studies.

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The administration block at the centre of the former hospital,  photographed in 1992 © H. Richardson

The former hospital is one of the most attractive architecturally of the many county asylums built for paupers in the mid-nineteenth century. Its history has the added interest of its association with one of Britain’s greatest modern artists, Stanley Spencer, who worked as a medical orderly here during the First World War when the hospital was requisitioned by the War Office. During that time it was renamed Beaufort War Hospital. There is a museum on the site housed in the chapel.

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Bristol Pauper Lunatic Asylum first opened in 1861. Patients had previously been sent to St Peter’s Hospital, the city workhouse that had been set up in a converted Jacobean house near St Peter’s church (see map below). By the 1850s this had become inadequate and there had been ‘certain distressing casualties’; one case at least had been the subject of an inconclusive investigation. There was much local hostility to the idea of building a county asylum, principally on the grounds of the increased burden on the rates. It was hoped that a swap might be organised with the workhouse at Stapleton, moving the pauper lunatics there and the ordinary paupers into St Peter’s, or of just converting some of the workhouse buildings into lunatic wards. But these plans were quashed by the Poor Law Commissioners who flatly refused to sanction the conversion of any part of the workhouse.

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Extract from Millerd’s Map of Bristol, 1671 (public domain image via commons.wikimedia)

In the interim, legislation governing the provisions for pauper lunatics was tightened up, with an amendment to the Lunacy Act making it harder for counties and boroughs to avoid providing suitable accommodation. With no option but to construct a new asylum, a competition was held for the design. There were 27 entries, judged by the building committee with advice from Anthony Salvin. In March 1857 the best three were awarded prizes, the first premium went to Thomas Royce Lysaght of Bristol (£100), second were Medland & Maberly of London and Gloucester (£50), and third J. H. Hirst of Bristol (£25). Lysaght’s plans were preferred as they seemed to meet the requirements while remaining within the restricted budget, and the architect had experience of asylum construction, having been responsible for that at Cork. Mr Herapath¹ congratulated the committee for having chosen well. They had ‘taken care not to adopt the most beautiful plan, but had chosen one which was neat but not gaudy’. It was ‘quite sufficiently ornamental’. [Bristol Mercury, 21 March 1857, p.6]

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 14.35.36Ground-plan of the asylum as first built, published in the 16th Annual Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy, 1862

Henry Crisp has sometimes been credited with the design of the original buildings (including by Historic England in the list description), but he only arrived on the scene later and it was Lysaght who got the job. Construction began in 1858 and after it was finished it was dubbed the Lunatic Pauper Palace on account of its architectural grandeur and the high cost of building (£27,500 for the building including lodge, stables, roads, planting, draining, boundary walls, supply of gas ‘etc’). The clerk of works was Mr Long, and the building contractors were J. & J. Foster, with Mr Yalland, mason; Mr Melsom, St James’s Barton, plasterer and painter; Mr Abbot, plumber; Mr Williams, glazier and Mr Harris, gas-fitter. [Bristol Mercury and Western Counties Advertiser, 20 Oct 1860, p.2]

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Extract from the 6-inch OS map surveyed in 1880-1. By this date additional wings had been built to the west and east. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland

The cost was not far removed from the half-a-dozen or so other asylums that were built around the same time; those in Cumberland and Northumberland, for the same number of patients, were estimated to cost £20,00 and £42,427 respectively. It was also considerably less than the figure being bandied about in the press some years earlier when it was reported that Lord Palmerston had ordered the authorities of Bristol to build a new lunatic asylum at an estimated cost of £45,000 (although the following year the figure reported was a more reasonable £20,000).  [The Western Times, 11 Feb 1854]

Glenside lodgeThe Lodge, photographed in 1992 © H. Richardson

It was designed in the fashionable Italianate style, the front ‘well broken up’ and forming ‘without superfluous ornament’ … ‘an exceedingly picturesque structure’, and built from Pennant stone that was mostly quarried on site, the quarries were then used for water storage beneath the kitchens. The asylum could accommodate 200 patients, with one-third in single rooms (a few of which were padded cells), the remainder in associated dormitories containing between six and eleven beds. In addition there were infirmary wards, providing a total of 22 beds. A measure of fire-proof construction was achieved through rolled iron floor joists filled in between with concrete, apart from in the offices and stores. Fire plugs for attaching hose pipes were provided at four points and the towers contained large reservoirs of water.

The Commissioners in Lunacy published a report on the asylum in 1861 following an inspection of the buildings in October the previous year by two of the Commissioners, Robert Lutwidge (Lewis Carroll’s uncle) and Dr James Wilkes. The main building was located on the northern boundary of the site, the principal elevation facing south-east. It was approached from the lodge at Fishponds along an ornamentally planted avenue. All the ground to the south of the building, amounting to around 17 acres, was used as a vegetable garden. Patients largely occupied the apartments on the south side of the building, staff and services the north side. The latter included the porter’s room, reception room, visiting room, committee room, apartments and office for the clerk or steward, rooms for the engineer and stores. In the central block, which acted as a buffer between the male and female sides of the building, were staff apartments: on the ground floor those of the Assitant Medical Officer and the Matron, the Medical Superintendent’s residence occupied the first and second floors, and servants had bedrooms on the third floor.

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The dining-hall, which continues to serve its original function at the Glenside Campus UWE,  photographed in December 2013 by Nick , licensed under creative commons CC BY 2.0 

The kitchens were on the ground floor and the dining-hall above – a lift being installed to take food from one to the other. There was a chapel within the main complex, capable of holding 150 patients, located adjacent to the dining hall which could seat the same number. The galleries for the patients were 12 feet wide, were heated by open fire-places, and were positioned to take advantage of the views over the surrounding landscape (‘commanding good views of the picturesque country round’). Window seats encouraged patients to sit and contemplate the scenery. There were also day rooms, larger rooms with two fire-places. Every ward had direct access to the airing grounds, which were ornamentally laid out, with walls low enough to allow patients to see over them.

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The laundry photographed during the First World war, posted on flickr by Nick , licensed under creative commons CC BY 2.0

Heating and ventilating for the ‘asylum portion’ was by Haden & Son of Trowbridge. The towers at the extreme ends of the building extracted foul air from the wards, which was then conveyed through the roofs in a pupose-built channel. The same firm supplied the kitchen equipment. On the female side was a ‘laundry ward and establishment’ consisting of a 10-bed ward for the more convalescent patients, a receiving-room for soiled linen, a wash-house, laundry, room for sorting clean linen, and nearby were drying machines and boilers. Corresponding with this on the male side were workshops, with a ‘workshop ward’, carpenter’s, shoemaker’s and tailor’s shops.  The dead-house and postmortem room were also at this end, ‘being nearer the road for funerals’.

Glenside chapelThe asylum church added to the site in 1882 replacing the room within the asylum that have previously served the purpose.

There were various phases of extensions to the asylum. It was first enlarged in 1875-7 when the wings to the west and east were added, then in 1882 a detached chapel was built, the original one being absorbed into the hall. The chapel was designed by a local architect, E. Henry Edwards in a ‘Norman Gothic’ style to seat 350 souls. The foundation stone was laid in September 1880, the building contractors were Forse and Ashley of Bristol. [Bristol Mercury & Daily Post, 25 Sept 1880, p.8]

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 12.48.30Extract from the second edition OS map revised in 1912 showing the asylum and neighbouring workhouse. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Henry Crips and Oatley were the architects for the additions carried out in two phases between 1887-91. The first phase comprised four new wings, mortuary and workshops, for which the building contractor was A. Krauss of Russell Town, Bristol. The second phase comprised an ‘entirely new’ administration and residential block providing for the greatly enlarged asylum – it had expanded to from its original accommodation for 250 patients to an anticipated 1,000 patients.  For this phase the general building contractor was A. J. Beaver of Bedminster, and R. Withycombe of Bristol was the clerk of works. Fire-proof floors were carried out by Dennett & Ingle of Whitehall.

a hospital623Former Glenside Hospital, general view looking north-east, photographed in 1992 © H. Richardson

It was at this period that the impressive clock tower was built, rising to 120 ft with clock faces on each side. These were supplied by Potts & Sons of Leeds, and were 8 ft in diameter with illuminated dials. Bells truck the quarters and the hours. A strictly time-tabled routine had obviously become a key feature of the running of the asylum. [Building News, 10 April 1891, p.500]

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This detail from the perspective view of the asylum published in Building News shows the additions at the south end of the original wings. 

Further additions were carried out in 1888-90, and then again in 1897-1902. This time the Visiting Committee dispensed with the services of an architect and appointed H. R. Withycombe, the clerk of works who had served under Crisp and Oatley, to supply plans and supervise construction. (There seems to be some doubt as to whether Withycombe actually designed the buildings or if another architect was involved.)[Western Daily Press, 16 April 1902, p.7]

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Glenside Campus aerial photograph 2014 by Rodw, reproduced under creative commons CC BY-SA 3.0

During the First World War the asylum was requisitioned as a military hospital for the war wounded and renamed Beaufort War Hospital; the existing patients were relocated to other asylums, but some returned in 1919 when the military handed the hospital back to the City. Cary Grant’s mother, Elsie Leach, is said to have been one of those readmitted after the war. Although officially now called Bristol Mental Hospital, it continued to be known as Bristol Asylum locally, well into the 1920s. In 1959 it changed its name again to Glenside Hospital. The conversion to the Glenside campus of the University of the West of England seems to have been a particularly happy one, preserving the old buildings and their setting.

¹ Mr Herapath, probably William Herapath, Professor of Chemistry (1796-1868), a magistrate and prominent Town Councillor.