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Report - Hartwood Hospital - North Lanarkshire - August 2013

Discussion in 'Asylums and Hospitals' started by Louise Keay Bell, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. Louise Keay Bell

    Louise Keay Bell 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Hartwood Hospital is an abandoned 19th century psychiatric hospital in the village of Hartwood, North Lanarkshire in Scotland. Originally known as Lanark District Asylum, Hartwood Hospital was opened to patients in 1895 and was completely self sustaining; it had its own farm, gardens, cemetery, railway line, staff accommodation, power plant and reservoir. Two imposing twin clock towers are the main feature of the village. The hospital aimed to create a community like setting, with occupational, industrial and recreational therapies carried out, which was relatively unheard of and radical at the time. Dr Archibald Campbell Clark, the hospital's original medical superintendent, aimed to “cure where possible and give the best possible care when a cure cannot be found." So dedicated to his work, his body was interred in the hospital cemetery in 1901. More controversial therapies carried out included seclusion, electroconvulsive therapy, and it was the first place in Scotland to perform the lobotomy; a surgical procedure which left patients in a lifeless, vegetative state. By the 1950's, Hartwood was the largest asylum in Europe and one of the most overcrowded in the UK, with over 2,500 patients. Hartwood Hospital began closure in 1995 as a result of the Community Care Act 1990, which resulted in the closure of many Victorian institutions as a more community-focused treatment for mental health care was introduced. As a result of several fires and years of damage and neglect, much of the structure has been destroyed and little remains of the once grand institution.

    On my first visit to Hartwood, as I walked up the path through the woods I came across traces of the hospital's past littered in the bushes; old wheelchairs, crockery, and a railway line are left forgotten. The first thing I saw was the main building with its a castle-like exterior and two clock towers looming ominously against the overcast sky. After squeezing through the fence, I wandered round the hospital grounds taking photos. I couldn't see a way in, the place was well boarded up, and so I took photos of the building's exterior and through some of the gaps in the boarded windows. Hartwood has an eerie atmosphere, probably as a result of its isolation from the outside world, the whole place is strangely quiet.

    I wasn't alone during my exploration, there was a cat prowling on the roof, which ran off after I took its photo. A man out walking his dog also mistook me for a zombie as I was crouched in the bushes photographing a mug I found. There were no zombies at Hartwood, but I did have one strange experience. As I was walking I thought I saw a man out the corner of my eye and quickly stepped out his way as he seemed to be walking straight towards me. However, when I looked properly there was nothing there, and I thought I saw a faint purple outline of a person disappear. This was pretty strange, either the result of my eyes playing tricks on me or a ghost. Either way, immediately afterwards the battery on my camera died, despite being fully charged moments ago. I don't normally get spooked at abandoned places, but Hartwood definitely gave me the chills.

    I decided to return the following week to get more photos and see if there were any ways in round the other side. To my surprise, most of the boarded up doors had been kicked in by someone, and so I easily got inside. This time I wasn't so much scared of ghosts as I was about the ceiling collapsing on me, or the possibility of there being someone else in there. The building is on its last legs, with one half missing a roof entirely and the other gradually crumbling away. It was pretty much a ruin. I got some interesting shots of the main corridor and administration block though.

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