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Report - Denbigh asylum , North Wales , October 2015

Discussion in 'Asylums and Hospitals' started by Lancashire lad, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. Lancashire lad

    Lancashire lad chief taster for costa coffee
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    HISTORY
    With the Lunatic Act passed in 1808 every county in the country was to provide an institute for the mentally ill, but by 1840 North Wales was still without such an institution because the poor rural communities could not afford to erect one. This meant that the most seriously ill pauper lunatics were sent to the English Asylums. One such asylum was the Gloucester Lunatic Asylum, the superintendent, Dr Samuel Hitch noticed the difficult situation that faced the Welsh Paupers within his asylum and this spurred him to write a letter to the Times, it read:

    “So few of the lower class of the Welsh, except in some towns or the precincts of inns, speak English, and this only for the purpose of commerce, or to qualify themselves for duties of menial servants, and not to an extent which would enable them to comprehend anything higher, – whilst both the officers and servants of our English Asylums, and the English public too, and equally ignorant of the Welsh Language, – that when the poor Welshman is sent to an English Asylum he is submitted to the most refined modern cruelties, being doomed to an imprisonment amongst strange people, and an association with his fellow men, whom he is prohibited from holding communications, harassed by wants which he cannot make known and appealed to by sounds which he cannot comprehend, he become irritable and irritated; and it is proverbial in our English Asylum that the Welshmen is the most turbulent patient wherever he happens to become an inmate”

    This forced the Metropolitan Commissioners in Lunacy to investigate the condition that Welsh speaking lunatics were housed under, the report to the government in 1844 revealed the appalling conditions that were rife in the Asylum system. A group of philanthropists from Denbigh had already foreseen the outcome of the report and in October 1842 held a meeting that called attention to the need of a Hospital for the Insane in Central or North Wales. In this meeting, an anonymous donor handed over 20 acres of land to the committee, this donor later turned out to be Joseph Ablett of Llanber Hall. However, the project faced a number of difficulties, firstly the law did not support more than one county cooperating and building an asylum, and the other counties of Northern Wales did not want to help finance the project. Through public subscriptions, the committee managed to raise £4,600, including donation from Queen Victoria and other Royals.

    Despite these problems, building of the Hospital started in 1844. Plans were drawn up by Mr Fulljames of Gloucester under the guidance of his friend, Dr S. Hitch. The Hospital was constructed from limestone bricks produced by the Graig Quarry near Denbigh and was regarded as the finest structure of its type. The building work was completed four years later and opened on the 14th of November, 1848 and was able to house up to 200 patients. The clock tower was donated by a Mrs. Ablett in memory of her husband who donated the land for the Asylum.

    The hospital was under ever increasing pressure to support its patients and relieve over-crowding, this led to a number of extensions occurring through out its life; the most major extension work happened in 1899. This allowed the Hospital to house 1500 patients at its peak and offer a wide range of treatments. In 1995 the hospital finally closed its door and has remained empty ever since, causing the buildings to degrade to a very poor state, even though they are Grade II listed. In 2004 Prince Charles visited the site and placed all the buildings under the protection of the Phoenix Trust to ensure that the building was safe. The future of the site is still unclear, it has recently been offered as a good site to build a prison on, but this looks to be a fleeting idea. Also, the current owners are being ordered to carry out major structural works on the buildings to secure them, if they do not complete these works by the close of 2009 they will be forced to pay 4.8 million to have them done.

    EXPLORE
    So Denbigh asylum yeh we followed the tourist route on this one word on the grapevine was elwyn was to retire and the council are to take control of Denbigh imagining boarded up windows harris fencing and secca on constant patrol me @LancashireExplorations @Motionless Escapes @CrazyNinjaSquirrel and @godgp78 set out on an early morning mission to north wales armed with passports for the welsh border lol we quickly made it there and found Denbigh with no problems at all.
    After a safety brew we got our gear out the car and headed straight in no secca no elwyn :thumb access was quick and easy and we quickly deduced that Denbigh was a mess, now ive seen the piks and reports but this was my first visit and I was unprepared for the total desolation here.
    All the floors are gone, windows all smashed , the amount of rubble and demo'd buildings still quite obvious what a shame from seeing the frontage and the grandeur of it to then step inside and see the real Denbigh:( still undeterred we ventured deeper into the mass of rooms and corridors found everything we wanted to see and then some, im sure a re visit will be on the cards at some point if only to access the service tunnels that we found but didn't venture to far into as we left the torches in the car like amatuers :wanker

    PIKS
    DSC_4736.JPG DSC_4738.JPG DSC_4567.JPG DSC_4573.JPG DSC_4606.JPG DSC_4620.JPG DSC_4627.JPG DSC_4628.JPG DSC_4633.JPG DSC_4636.JPG DSC_4641.JPG DSC_4646.JPG DSC_4652.JPG DSC_4659.JPG DSC_4665.JPG DSC_4674.JPG DSC_4683.JPG DSC_4697.JPG DSC_4691.JPG DSC_4708.JPG DSC_4722.JPG DSC_4715.JPG
     
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  2. WelshMoocher

    WelshMoocher Hello Dave!
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    Great report, really like the asbestos fire blanket sign. What's odd about it is it's a military sign, the long number is a NATO stock number (for a fire blanket :confused:) but I've not seen any history about the military being present there before, can anyone share any knowledge?
     
  3. Lancashire lad

    Lancashire lad chief taster for costa coffee
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    ill do a little digging pal , unless its was surplus and cheap ??its the only one we saw
     
  4. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    Those service tunnels have a lot of asbestos in them you know mate... theres a huge pile of asbestos insulation stuff somewhere down there.. we turned away as soon as we spotted it all so keep your eyes open for it if you go back :)
     
  5. Lancashire lad

    Lancashire lad chief taster for costa coffee
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    we were fully masked up pal , not gonna risk it in this place we saw the asbestos it was like candy floss
     
  6. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    Good stuff! I've never invested in the full P3 masks or respirators for asbestos, rather not take the risk myself :) Some good shots though, good news that the council have won the appeal to overturn their compulsory purchase order here isn't it.. hopefully will get developed in the next few years into something useful :)
     
  7. Lancashire lad

    Lancashire lad chief taster for costa coffee
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    yeh I hope so , its such a great building it should never have got to this state , don't know why they don't do a highroyds on it and re develop it into housing
     
  8. BrainL

    BrainL 28DL Full Member
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    Think that's the plan to be honest, they were talking about removing the middle of the main building so you can kind of walk through it with all kinds of landscaped gardens with houses and apartments at the back. Keep an eye on the Daily Post North Wales, its their local newspaper and they quite often have stories about the place on their FB pages
     
  9. Bigian88

    Bigian88 The Massive Mancunian
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    Something seems to have happened to the morgue table stand, it looks 1/3 of the size it used to be! :(
     
  10. GRONK

    GRONK 28DL Regular User
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    Nice report mate, the place looks more looked every time I see it.
     
  11. upright_ninja

    upright_ninja Picture of Stealth
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    You're indeed correct, WelshMoocher... the give away is the '-99-' which you'll find on just about anything connected to the MOD. Where I have no concrete answer to your question, I can at least try and offer an explanation as to how it 'may' have come to be in service in Denbigh Asylum. Not too far from Denbigh (next to the A55 junction for Rhyl) is Kinmel Camp. Although now used as a training camp for reservists and transit camp for forces personnel on adventure training etc, it was originally used as a training barracks for soldiers heading off to the Western Front during The Great War. In fact, the cottage in which I used to live in the village of Rhuddlan (about three miles away from the camp) belonged to the local cobbler who had the unenviable task of looking after the boots of the soldiers who passed through Kinmel camp during training. He was also the local butcher and the original stonework pigsty was still intact at the bottom of my garden... evident after I hacked the foliage back to see what was there.
    Anyway, I can probably assume that there would have been an element of Armed Forces medical and psychiatric staff stationed at Denbigh (or Dynbich for any Welsh speakers) as there was a large number of troops stationed in North Wales and even though the powers that be were reluctant to acknowledge the effects of 'shellshock', I'm pretty sure the medical staff were carrying out research behind closed doors. This was possibly the case for many years after the war ended and may have been so, right up until the Asylum closed in the mid nineties, but I'm just guessing and if anyone can provide any clarification I'd be interested to hear it.

    The place has seen a very rapid decline since I first visited in 1999 and it's sad to see. But, it's still worth a visit and you've done a good job with your report and images, Lancashire Lad... I'm also from Lancashire originally and now live in Essex.... mores the fecking pity....!

    u>.<n
     
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  12. WelshMoocher

    WelshMoocher Hello Dave!
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    Interesting, I think you may be right sir, and thanks for the info.

    As a side, the -99- is the country of origin code for the manufacturer, 99 being UK. The break down of the numbers (Nato Stock Numbers) are xxxx-yy-zzz-aaaa where as is the country code, xxxx is the catalogue code, and zzzaaaa is the item code (like the Argos number ). Some military stores codes also have a sectional reference before them, this identifies the store they come from.

    A bit geeky, but in a past life I may have had something to do with them
     
  13. scotty markfour

    scotty markfour 28DL Regular User
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    been thru them service tunnels , we had led lamps with us which lit up everything ! hope elwynn does,nt retire cos he is part of the denbigh fun ! good pics n report by the way !
     
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  14. ME262

    ME262 28DL Full Member
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    Nice thread, it's a shame the place keeps falling further and further into disrepair.
    The NATO Stock Number on the fire blanket is interesting....comes up as 'no item record' these days (asbestos and all that) and probably an alternative Section REF for an alternative fire blanket now because asbestos is bad.... ;-) anyway, a lot of civilian companies who supply the MOD with items also supply civilian institutes with the same stuff, so instead of making a whole new design for a 'civvy' company they just sell them the same item. No-one probably knew in the hospital (unless they were a member of the supply squadron in the RAF) what that number was or what it stood for.
    hope this manages to piece together a bit more of your puzzle ;-)

    nice thread anyway...
     
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