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Report - Birkwood Hospital, Lesmhagow - July 2014

Discussion in 'Asylums and Hospitals' started by Idle Hands, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Birkwood Hospital

    Birkwood House is a Grade B listed castellated Scottish mansion constructed in several phases but initially as a late 18th/early 19th century Georgian villa (now forming the north wing). Substantial alterations around 1858 and 1890 to the south and west make up the familiar turreted castle façade – originally classical and Gothicised at a later date, possibly around the time a semi-circular portico was replaced by the square one you see today.

    Historically the seat of the MacKirdy family, the estate was sold to Lanarkshire Council in 1920 for the sum of £10,000. Birkwood Hospital became one of the few psychiatric hospitals to deal exclusively with children, opening as a certified Institution for mental defectives on 3 July 1923 after the passing of the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act (1913).

    Further extensions came in 1921, 1946 and 1958 with the last offering accommodation for a further 80 patients, and by the 1960s Birkwood had 316 beds and capacity to house another 60 to alleviate overcrowding at Kirklands Hospital. By 1976 though it was reported that Birkwood was overcrowded and would have to cut places. By the 1980s with the onset of community care and long term psychiatric institutions falling out of favour, Birkwood began trialling an independent unit which allowed improving patients to look after themselves with minimum supervision. As with many of these hospitals the Community Care Act of 1990 saw its terminal decline, with patients relocated from 2002.

    Birkwood Hospital closed in 2005 and has since fallen into a state of disrepair. While previous plans have fallen through, the site was revealed to have been sold in early 2014 when plans for a £50 million project were revealed. The restored Birkwood House is to be converted into a hotel, with the estate developed around it.


    The Explore

    Auntie Knickers had sent me some helpful information about where to park and what to look out for – thanks very much for that, it was much appreciated. :) Unfortunately I was looking at the map the upside down though so myself and a non-member friend parked on the wrong side and went round the grounds the long way, crossing the river twice before it loomed through the trees. Once there though we scouted it out and worked out our access point before spending a good few hours inside, and exiting just as the next group were heading in. I don’t think they are members here but if it was you, it was nice to meet you!


    The Exterior:
    The arrival of a ring of Heras fencing denoting the imminent start of restoration work

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    Inside it became apparent that the building is in worse condition that I was expecting, but the detailing of plaster mouldings and ribbed ceilings offered a glimpse of how spectacular it once looked.

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    Aside from the obvious alterations made for the hospital there were plenty of reminders of the building’s medical history...

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    And then there’s THAT spiral staircase…

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    Worth the trip alone.

    Up in the tower and looking down you can see why the building is rotting from the inside: the lead has been extensively stripped from the roof leaving the unforgiving Scottish weather to seep through the fabric of the building…

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    It’s hard to imagine how much of the interior can be saved – the ceilings are collapsing, the floors are rotten… But I guess £50 million gives you a good start.

    Thanks for looking.

    :)
     

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  2. BenCooper

    BenCooper Mr Boombastic
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    Good to see again, but not in that state - last time I was there there were tarps all over the roofs, even those have been pinched. They've been talking about renovating it for years, it's looking less and less likely.
     
  3. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Nice ones :thumb

    Impressive building indeed, & very nicely Photographed.

    The "New Frontiers In Health " leaflet image is very telling of the age :eek:
     
  4. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks Ben. I must admit I was surprised at how bad it was - I've never been before but looking at the pictures from just a couple of years ago you can see it's gone downhill fast.

    Thank you mate. That leaflet is shocking isn't it - thankfully perceptions have changed a lot in the last 50 years!
     
  5. AuntieKnickers

    AuntieKnickers inquisitive historian
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    Good going, glad to help .... Sort off lol pity about the map
     
  6. Seffy

    Seffy Bally up lads!
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    Shame it's gone so downhill, but fair effort all the same :)
     
  7. KM_Punk

    KM_Punk Muppet
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    That spiral staircase is beautiful. Got some nice shots there :thumb
     
  8. Vixxie

    Vixxie 28DL Regular User
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    I'm freaking loving the staircase!! Wow!! Beautiful shot as well! Good job. Sad to see this stunning building in such state though.
     
  9. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks all :thumb

    Yeah that staircase is very photogenic - it was the one thing I really wanted to see. Plus it was the way up to the roof of course!
     
  10. BenCooper

    BenCooper Mr Boombastic
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    Did you find the other spiral staircase? There are two :)
     
  11. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    No we missed the one in the tower above the front door... in fact I think we missed the upstairs room beneath it as well. I remember rushing past the big stair window not wanting to hang around in case we were seen from outside. Should have looked through the door halfway up! I only really worked that out when I looked at the pictures later :rolleyes:
     
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