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Report - - Cane Hill Remastered - A Look Back at the 'King' of Asylums - 2006 to 2008 | Noteworthy Reports | Page 3 | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Cane Hill Remastered - A Look Back at the 'King' of Asylums - 2006 to 2008


catbalou

off the wall
Regular User
enjoyed reading through that. always regret not seeing the place but by the time i got into the scene it was too far gone. cheers for posting that.
 

ASOM

One-Man Urbex Art Army
28DL Full Member
Amazing...not much to add to what others have said, but yeah, got totally lost in another world for 30mins there!
Ironically, it's the location that got me into exploring, and eventually the whole asylum history thing too - even though I never actually went!
My first fellow explorer warned me that it was "impossible now" (this is 2008), and being a noob, I didn't know how ridiculous that was. By the time I would have had the attitude I'd have now (ie: "fuck that, its worth a try!"), it was too late.
 

professor frink

Reppin Bumbaclaat
28DL Full Member
Brings all those good memories flooding back, I used to sneak about in here thinking I was the only person doing it and avoided every one else thinking they were security or robbers!
 

OliverT

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
yeah, this is awesome.

slightly off topic - who were the 'first' to do millennium mills? I remember seeing some very early photos from the roof before silo A(?) across the front of what we see today was demolished. I've never seen photos from the inside prior to maybe 2006 though. in terms of decay it never seemed to go downhill much between then and now... if there's any really early photos about I'd love to see them!
 

Speed

Got Epic?
Regular User
Yeh, not sure i've ever seen pre 2004/05 sort of era photos. It's one of those places that you can never say who did it first exactly. It closed in the 80s i think so had been sitting there years when the UE 'scene' started up probably had many explorers though it but back then not many people had cameras.
 

Einstein69

28DL Member
28DL Member
Great read. Again, gutted I'm a 'late developer' but am sneaking around a few local places (north Devon) but nothing like this is anywhere to be found, or at least I can't find them.
I got my eye on a hotel but it's next door to a police station ha.
Thanks for sharing a great report
 

tumbles

Trip Hopping
Regular User
yeah, this is awesome.

slightly off topic - who were the 'first' to do millennium mills? I remember seeing some very early photos from the roof before silo A(?) across the front of what we see today was demolished. I've never seen photos from the inside prior to maybe 2006 though. in terms of decay it never seemed to go downhill much between then and now... if there's any really early photos about I'd love to see them!
Vaugely remember @Dmax posting up a link to some awesomely old photos of MM and surround area.
 

Lauren87

28DL Member
28DL Member
Fantastic pics and commentary. Ones that stick out to me are the slippers and the blue phone! Also, the Church is beautiful. Thanks for posting.
 

DirtyJigsaw

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Nothing short of epic mate.l Great write up and great photos. Enjoyed reading that, what great memories to have walking around this place
 

Winchester

Nicht Normal
28DL Full Member
I find it incredibly poignant to look at Cane Hill related content here because it invokes a sense of melancholic nostalgia for a place that was incredibly unique and special - the place that got me involved and the place I always kept going back to. Like Speed (who I made a number of visits with), I visited every accessible area of the complex. Betjeman talked of topophilia and the human condition of a love of particular places, and this rings true for me and Cane Hill

I recall leaving home at 3.30am on autumnal mornings to arrive before dawn, sneaking in and waiting for sunrise and trying to see as much of the site before nerves got the better of me. When the English Partnerships, (later HCA) guards moved off site and the Squibb and Co guards came on, the place opened up a little. The EP guards still manned the entrances and patrolled outside the fence, but once you were inside you were ok because the Squibb guards were rubbish - I remember them living in the John Hutchinson centre and seeing them washing in a bucket. They were dead easy to hide from.

When demolition started the place started to open up even more, as Speed has said. It was summer 2008 and I was there several times a week, going after work and finally getting up the water tower one Sunday afternoon. It's a summer that I'll probably remember forever.

When I started exploring in 2007, Cane Hill was the 'Mecca' at a time when there were plenty of other asylums to explore - most counties had at least one, some had more. But Cane Hill was unequivocally the best asylum to see and the one that seemed to have a special aura. Access, it's size, the age of it, the level of decay, the imposing gothic architecture and the amount of stuff left in it all played a part.

What is hard to put into words is the sensation of being there. You knew that if you were caught it would be different to elsewhere - the guards really cared about keeping it secure and I think they took it as an attack if you managed to get inside. There were stories of people spending a night in the cells, being accused of stealing light bulbs, and stories of aggressive guards with howling Alsatians.

The place was vast, some parts had closed as long ago as the sixties, and the place had been deteriorating in condition for a good 20 years before closure, making it a genuine ruin as well as a sprawling complex. As one of the earliest mental hospital closures (March 1992), it seemed that the three health services involved didn't really know what to do with the place and thus just walked out one day. The hospital had run on a skeleton staff since late 1991 and the full closure was only delayed because the Knights Hill Nursing home being opened for the Cane Hill patients hadn't been completed on time. Various plans were hatched but never came to anything. A science park, a college, a religious centre - nothing happened on any of these. After some fires in 2002 the big fence went up at a cost of £2m.

There was also the stories and folklore that surrounded the place - Bowie's brother, Chapman's mother, was Jack the Ripper incarcerated there too? Ronnie Kray was also alleged to have been sent there at one point. There was always the feeling that you were treading through a place of such local cultural significance, a holy grail perhaps.

Cane Hill's history wasn't something that was generally available until Pam Buttrey, (a former nurse involved in the closure), released a history of the hospital. I had previously tasked myself with learning as much about 'The Hill' as possible and pieced together some history from articles, obituaries, and sought out stories from former staff members and patients, some of whom I met. The anecdotes and memories recited brought to life the thousands of pictures I took, and turned the ruin into a workplace, a home, something more tangible. I find it hard to imagine with the 2,300 patients it had in its peak in 1954, a time when patients were put in the corridors such was the overcrowding - to me, it was always this big postmodern ruin.

I visited the site recently to see what the home builders are doing. David Wilson Homes have named some of the units after the wards, but skirt around the site's former identity. Barratt Homes play it down even more. I took a look in a show home and there is a bedroom with a view of the water tower. As the development grows and additional phases begin, there will be homes on the old footprint and both the water tower and remains of admin will be converted to flats.

Walking down the footpath from Portnalls road still feels the same and probably always will.
 
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