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

tumbles

Trip Hopping
Regular User
#1
Seeing as @ASOM demanded that I make good on promise of sharing photos... ;)

Cane Hill Asylum - June/July 2008

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Cane Hill was one of those iconic places that those who were lucky enough talk about it fondly. For sure the 'asylum' era in the UK exploring scene has gone now. What's left is just a handful of shit, crudy, shells of asylums. Back in 2008 there was probably around two dozen asylums you could rock up to and explore for the entire day. Each and everyone of them had their features. But for me, nothing matched Cane Hill. It's hard to explain what it was. A huge part of it was the sheer amount of shit left behind. Not just one ward but the whole fucking site was crammed full of records, patients belongings, beds, medications and canoes. Earlier visitors to the site talk of ECT and other machines lying around.

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It perhaps was too far gone to be converted by the time the wreaking ball turned up in the summer of 2008. It'd sat derelict since 1991. Some of the wards on the male side had been closed since the late 60's. It was a beautiful relic of the victorian asylum era and of a unique design - Radial Pavilion - English Heritage stated better examples were already saved in Eximinster and Whitingham. Neither of which were the same and, of course, Whittingham is now rubble as well. Well played EH, well played.

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The local listing kept the water tower, chapel and administration building. The later made famous by the cartoon drawing of it on David Bowie's US version of 'The Man Who Sold The World' - Bowie's brother had escaped Cane Hill and thrown himself under a train years earlier. Other famous patients included Charlie Chaplins Mother, Hannah.

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Enoch Powell also famously made reference to the Cane Hill water tower in his 1961 speach to the national association of mental health. There they stand, isolated, majestic, imperious, brooded over by the gigantic water-tower. It was the speach that began the demise of these once grand asylums. Over the next 60 years they would be run down and closed leaving only a few remaining specalist sites across the country. Care in the community for sure has its place but perhaps they should have kept a few more than they did.

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Now for the past two years as you may have read elsewhere a group of myself, @ASOM , @TheTimeChamber and Pete C have been working tirelessly rebuliding and recreating the old county asylum website. The good news is were going live on 1st October so please keep an eye on http://www.countyasylums.co.uk as we think you're really going to live what we've done.

All my old pics of Cane Hill can be found on my website here: http://www.whateversleft.co.uk/category/asylums/cane-hill-asylums - Thanks for looking :)
 
Last edited:

Boomstick84

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#2
Quality report (noteworthy?). Enjoyed that :thumb

I definitely missed the boat on most of the big asylums. As you said, the few I have visited are pretty much shells now with little to nothing left behind inside and I only wish I had the chance to experience them when they were like this.

Reading about Cane Hill though and seeing some of the amazing pictures like these shows what an experience it must have been to see it in it's heyday.

Looking forward to the county asylums site!
 

Speed

Got Epic?
Staff member
Moderator
#3
I think what made it special was that it was a long surviving ruin that it was old fashioned throughout. All the other ones i can think of had modernised bits or were sitting right next to a bit that had been converted already or was still used as a hospital.. Once you got inside the fence at CH it was pretty much like stepping back to the 60s as even the later wards to close hadn't been modernised in years. Combine that with a lack of stripping out when the building was eventually closed and you have the formula for all the great UE ruins we have seen imo.

Pre strip out St Joes was similar, Millenium Mills largely fits that bill too i think. The old ones were the best!
 

DubbedNavigator

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#5

Cuuvin

28DL Colonial Member
28DL Full Member
#7
Ace report ! :thumb
Looking forward to the new site ! The old buildings are alright, bit it's the shiny bits that take the cake !
 

mockney reject

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#12
Great pictures and a great report.
I sadly missed all the good stuff and have only seen what's left now. Although I did have the misfortune to play kiss chase with the rather angry dog that was there.

Can't wait to see the finished website :)
 

tumbles

Trip Hopping
Regular User
#13
I think what made it special was that it was a long surviving ruin that it was old fashioned throughout. All the other ones i can think of had modernised bits or were sitting right next to a bit that had been converted already or was still used as a hospital.. Once you got inside the fence at CH it was pretty much like stepping back to the 60s as even the later wards to close hadn't been modernised in years. Combine that with a lack of stripping out when the building was eventually closed and you have the formula for all the great UE ruins we have seen imo.

Pre strip out St Joes was similar, Millenium Mills largely fits that bill too i think. The old ones were the best!
Reckon you're probably right. West Park probably had similar amount of crap left but it was definitely more modern..although it was built 40 odd years later anyway.

I'd add George Barnsleys to that list of sites for the reasons you outline. I think the other thing with CH is nothing was really staged for a photo shoot. Sure Browning/Blake was a tided up over the years but it's not like the countless shit derp cottages where everything is moved and laid out for the shot. There was always a shot to be found without moving stuff around. Those set of three beds were tucked up away on the third floor of Donnie/Dickens.. Still perhaps my favourite little corner of the hill.
 

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