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Report - Whittingham Mental Hospital, Goosnargh, Near Preston, June 2010

Discussion in 'Asylums and Hospitals' started by ZerO81, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. ZerO81

    ZerO81 Team Weasel
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    Whittingham Mental Hospital, Goosnargh

    History

    Whittingham Hospital, whose grounds adjoin the village of Goosnargh, grew to be the largest mental hospital in the country, and pioneered the use of electroencephalograms (EEGs).

    During its time it had its own church, farms, railway, telephone exchange, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band, ballroom and butchers.

    In 1866, the three Lancashire lunatic asylums at Prestwich, Rainhill and Lancaster were deemed to be full. The building of Whittingham Asylum began in 1869, originally to accommodate 1000 patients. It was built from brick made from clay dug on site from a pit which later became a fish pond.

    The hospital officially opened on 1 April 1873. The large site included an Anglican church, a Catholic chapel, a recreation hall (also used as a ballroom) and several farms.

    The Whittingham Hospital Railway was a two-mile private branch to Grimsargh, built in 1887, to provide coal and other goods. It also provided free transport for staff and passengers. It eventually closed in on 30 June 1957.

    In the early years there was a brewery on the site. At the end of the first World War, a part of the hospital (later known as “St Margaret’s Division”) was used as a military hospital. It was again used for this purpose during the second World War.

    By 1923, the hospital was known as Whittingham Mental Hospital.

    By 1939, the number of patients was 3533, with a staff of 548, making it the largest mental hospital in the country.

    By 1948, it had incorporated Ribchester Hospital, and became known as Whittingham Hospital

    The Mental Health Act of 1960 deemed large institutions like Whittingham to be out of favour. Allegations of cruelty to patients led to a public inquiry.

    During the 1970s and 1980s, new drugs and therapies were introduced. Long-stay patients were returned to the community or dispersed to smaller units around Preston. The hospital eventually closed in 1995.

    The site subsequently became known as Guild Park. In 1999, Guild Lodge was opened on the edge of Guild Park, supplying secure mental services, followed the next year by rehabilitation cottages close by.

    It is planned to build 650 new homes on the site and to preserve some of the hospital buildings as apartments. However, the plan will not proceed until a date for the construction of the Broughton bypass is known.

    The Visit

    The original plans for the day were sadly postponed the day before, so that night I logged onto the forums to find this question in the chat box "anyone fancy an asylum tomorrow?", so I thought I would see which one and if it was close and my luck was in, it was both local and also an asylum I had wanted to visit but never got the chance.

    Fast forward 4 and a half hours and I find myself waiting in the car close to the asylum awaiting my exploring partner for the day. Shortly before 6am we headed off in search of the way into this old, if somewhat rundown beauty.

    After a bit of a wander round we found the way in and there I was, my 2nd asylum. I don't want to do this place any injustice by talking about another asylum, but there are a lot of similarities between Denbigh and Whittingham, for me the focal point of the building seems to be the main hall, all the corridors seem to end up back at this central location, exactly the same as Denbigh, but with one added bonus - the hall is still there (and what a beauty she is too!).

    All in all, we spent about 3 hours in the place and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I think I can say the same for HiddenShadow as well who never stopped smiling all the way around as this was his first taste of an asylum.

    My new exploring partner for the day (hopefully one of many such days :thumb) was HiddenShadow.

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    #1 ZerO81, Jun 25, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016

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