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Report - Severalls Asylum, Colchester - February 2013

Discussion in 'Asylums and Hospitals' started by Session9, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Session9

    Session9 A life backwards
    Regular User

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    The history

    The 300-acre (1.2 km2) site housed some 2000 patients and was based on the "Echelon plan" - a specific arrangement of wards, offices and services within easy reach of each other by a network of interconnecting corridors. This meant that staff were able to operate around the site without the need to go outside in bad weather. Unlike modern British hospitals, patients in Severalls were separated according to their gender. Villas were constructed around the main hospital building as accommodation blocks between 1910 and 1935. Most of the buildings are in the Queen Anne style, with few architectural embellishments, typical of the Edwardian period. The most ornate buildings are the Administration Building, Larch House and Severalls House (originally the Medical Superintendent's residence).

    The hospital closed as a psychiatric hospital in the early 1990's following the closure of other psychiatric institutions. However, a small section remained open until 20 March 1997 for the treatment of elderly patients suffering from the effects of serious stroke, as a temporary building for the nearby Colchester General Hospital which was in the process of building an entire new building for these patients. Since 1997 the remaining structures have changed little. Architecturally the site remains an excellent example of a specific asylum plan. However, the buildings have suffered greatly from vandalism. In 2005 the main hall was subjected to an arson attack and in 2007 the charred building was demolished for safety reasons. The five boilers were removed from the central boiler house in 2007. In 2008, the sale of the hospital site, including its extensive grounds, collapsed due to the slow-down in the building industry. Planning permission was however granted in 2011 to redevelop the site.


    The explore

    An early start was rewarded with the sight of Severalls shaking off a faint mist for what would be a chilly, but reasonably bright February day. Since my last visit in September building work has now begun in earnest up to the dog walkers path. There is a lot of new homes planned for the area including of course the hospital. Hopefully they will progress at their current slow rate and Severalls can continue to be enjoyed for sometime to come.

    During my six and a half hour visit, i covered most of the bits i missed last time including the southern wards (male wards), Severalls House, original operating theatres (incidentally the newer one was built in the 1960's to relieve pressure on local hospital theatres), dentist room, shop, kitchen (smaller version than the main one), the endless store rooms and the estate department/engineering. The one that got away was the mortuary and it was only when back home that i realised i was within spitting distance of it! :banghead

    The point to describing my travels is that in my visits i have been on site for a total of nine hours and only covered at a guess 75%; not to mention starting on the remote villas. Well, another few hours should get it all wrapped up, surely...

    Explored with elliot5200 and a non member - it was a pleasure to meet you guys :)


    Enough gibber and on with the main feature:

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    Apparently the connecting corridors were built without windows and were only added during the 1950's
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    The bed frame that resided in this room for that perfect asylum scene for so long has given way to a kitchen sink! The remains of the bed minus its base can be found nearby
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    Most photographed location in Sevs?
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    Walking around like a headless chicken searching for that elusive mortuary can lead a man to tears!
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    and so after six plus hours and legs no longer willing to carry my ample frame i was homeward bound. The word was out that a very friendly security guy was on duty, so rather than wrestle again with the tackle masher, it was just a case of waiting to be nabbed. Shortly after i was on my way but not before having a good chat and finding out that apparently our friend Micheal is obsessed with Severalls. Whatever does he mean?? :laugh


    Thanks for looking folks! :)
     

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