Report - - Cane Hill Asylum, Coulsdon - June 2008 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Cane Hill Asylum, Coulsdon - June 2008


Trip Hopping
Regular User
We're going in hard, balls deep, for todays throwback. The classic. The best? To some probably. God I miss this place more than my pristine Mk1 Fiesta XR2.

I left it late getting here. I'd been offered a trip up in mid March with Rooks & Rigsby but I had too much going on at home and by the time it came to parking up on Portnalls road the slabs were already in the back of a transit van and Squibs were nomming away at the remains of the mortuary. Didn't stop me, Winch, JonBoy, Hairy, Dystopia & George smashing out a full 14 odd hours in here. I could have smashed out 14 days given the chance. Would revist many, many, more times over the summer including scaling the pigeon infested water tower but there was always something special about this first vistit. The walk down the footpath you'd get sight of the imposing buildings. Ruinus in places but curtains blowing gently in the wind and just the sound of the early morning birds singing away. Take me back please..


History from CA:

Less than fifteen years following the opening of Surrey’s Brookwood asylum it had once again become clear that another premises would be necessary. The spread of London, south of the Thames, was continuing at such a pace, accommodation for pauper lunatics could not be met effectively by expansion at the existing institutions.
The site chosen for the new asylum comprised of farmland and woodland, formerly owned by the manor of Portnalls, and occupied a prominent position at the summit of Cane Hill which gave an excellent southerly aspect over Farthing Downs. The town of Coulsdon was located to the north and the site had good transport links, the London to Brighton road and the South Eastern and Brighton railways line passing the boundary to the east.
Charles Howell was chosen as architect, having previously planned and expanded the Brookwood asylum and others. He had also been involved in other works for the county, and would later design its administrative headquarters in Kingston upon Thames.

For Cane Hill, Howell created a unique design solution for what was to be a large institution. Taking the pavilion plan which had been used to a limited extent within asylum construction elsewhere, the main corridor was altered to form an almost symmetrical arc from which accommodation blocks could be accessed. The semi-circular layout allowed facilities such as the laundry, boiler house, kitchens, main stores, hall and chapel to occupy the central area with an administrative block flanked by senior staff accomodation to occupy a prominent postition at the middle point of the corridor arc. Combined with cross passageways, all areas could be accessed conveniently and quickly without the distant spread of similarly sized corridor plan asylums. Each accommodation block was specifically designed for the type of patient it was intended to accomodate, carying in quantity and positioning of day rooms, dormitories and single rooms. The largest blocks were of three storeys and dedicated to acute or female chronic cases, others included suicidal or epileptic pateints or the physically ill cases. A staggered layout with some wards projecting further, or others straddling the corridor, meant airing courts could be incorporated between wards and greater access for light and airflow existed. Planned for 1,124 inmates, the ratio of males to females (3:4) was inequal from the start, with the three storey and two storey male working chronic block being omitted. Although the plan enabled these to be constructed at a later date, they were never built as initially intended. A separate detached building was constructed to the west of the female wards. Named the Cottage Hospital, it was intended for inmates of the asylum who contracted infectious diseases and required isolation. This block was separately staffed and included its own services to the rear. Elsewhere, residences for the Superintendent (The Postern), and Steward (Garden House) were built, and lodges on Brighton and Portnalls Roads were built for the main and goods entrances. A residence for the farm bailiff, the asylum farm, burial ground and gardens department were also developed in the original scheme.

All buildings were constructed using yellow stock brick with red dressings and slate roofs. Multiple-paned, timber, sash windows featured throughout the asylum either singly or in canted bays. Ward blocks of differing heights, the boiler house chimney and water tower provided a lively skyline overlooking the downs. The most decorative structure, the administrative block was approached from a carriage drive and featured a small clock tower with convex faces and wooden ball cage and weather vane above. Flanked by officer and matrons residences a grand and opulent appearance was provided for the visitor and senior staff.

Toppping out was completed in 1882 and the asylum received its first occupants in December of the following year.






























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Bally up!
Regular User
Peng ting :Not Worthy

it’s crazy to think of the site with just a burnt admin building, a chapel and a Tower then imagine all this that was filling the rest of it!


grumpy sod
Regular User
The one place I will always and forever be absolutely gutted that I missed. I visited the half demolished stripped remnants in mid-2009 during my first ever weekend of exploring but there were workers all over the place so I only ever got to see it from outside the perimeter fence.

I remember finding photos of it on the Derelict London website back in the mid-2000s after looking for photos of abandoned cars, and it's those photos and the subsequent discovery of this forum that led to all of the craziness in my life since then.

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
God I miss this place. I went several times. Lost all my photos as didn't back them up and hadn't joined a forum or anything. Gutted I lost many many yrs worth of photos. Now I back up everything.
Like many I just explored and snapped for prosperity. Brings back some memories. One of the people I went with, her grandfather worked here. Made it feel quite eerie.


Regular User
Beautiful. Cant believe such an amazing gem, sitting there in South London. And then there was me oblivious to all this, doing boring things, on my boring weekends.
I discovered this all about 9months too late. Gutting. I really feel the golden days are long gone :oops:
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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Amazing pics again Tumbles, you've really captured its presence. This is one of the ones I wished I had got to, I did Sevs and Hellingly, but never got to the classics like Cane Hill, Cherry Knowle and West Park. Sad times. I agree with @zombizza the golden age is indeed long gone!

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