Report - - Harperbury Asylum Main Hall and Services, Radlett, Hertfordshire - September 2015 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Harperbury Asylum Main Hall and Services, Radlett, Hertfordshire - September 2015


28DL Regular User
Regular User

Had a look at a possible new hospital in Epping but was disappointed to find ourselves in the middle of a fresh housing estate... So somehow we ended up here...

Unfortunately my camera died in that hall :( It suddenly made a very horrible noise and now it won't wake up... Fortunately Mockney let me use his camera! So massive thanks man, appreciate it a lot!

No projector room unfortunately... Either way, more to see here! Haperbury is not dead and hopefully we can find some more features hiding in the center. I've heard mentions of a mortuary and other service related buildings.


The Hangars Certified Institution opened in October 1928 and the first patients, eight high-grade male adults, were admitted, supervised by untrained male attendants. They cleared out the hangars, which were converted into wards and became the foundation for the new Colony. After a few months there were 86 male patients from the County of Middlesex who lived and worked on the site. Construction of the new buildings began in 1929 and the patients were also involved in digging and establishing the gardens.

The first of the new buildings opened in February 1931 and, by December, 342 male patients were in residence. The administration centre, placed on a north-south axis, contained offices, clinic rooms and a dispensary. Behind it were the kitchens, storerooms, workshops and laundry. These central buildings were flanked by 2- or 3-storey villas for male patients on the east side and for female patients on the west. The De Salis Recreational Hall (named after Sir Cecil De Salis, Chairman of the Council's Mental Deficiency Committee) could seat 700 people and was equipped with a stage and a cinema projector. A Nurses' Home was built to the west of the administrative building, adjacent to the main entrance in Harper Lane. The Medical Superintendent's residence was an 18th century farmhouse - Wild Farm - in the grounds of the Institution. Residences for the Deputy Medcial Superintendent and other senior officers were also built, as well as a staff village. The site also contained tennis courts and sports grounds.

Building work continued in stages until 1936. The villas were built around three loop roads, which divided the site into male, female and children's sections (an isolated section on the south side was allocated for the latter). The villas containing wards were designed for different grades of mental handicap, and each was arranged around recreational playing fields and gardens. In the children's section the buildings were one-storey; there was a school block - a single row of classrooms connected by a corridor. Planned to accommodate 1700 mentally handicapped patients of both sexes, in the event the Colony was never fully completed.

The Institution was renamed the Middlesex Colony when it was officially opened in May 1936 by the then Minister of Health, Sir Kingsley Wood.

Opening during the 1930s Depression, the Colony had no shortage of nurses, despite the isolation of the site, the low status of nurses in mentally handicapped institutions and the strict discipline imposed by the Medical Superintendent on both staff and patients. Staff had also been recruited from the Continent, especially Belgium, where such colonies had been established much earlier than in England. Nurses acted as custodians and each patient moving from one part of the Colony would be accompanied by a member of staff. If a patient absconded, this was regarded as a serious failure on the part of the staff member. Anyone losing a key would be instantly dismissed.

In 1986, following another NHS reorganisation, the Hospital was linked with Leavesden Hospitaland Cell Barnes Hospital under the control of a management unit of the North West Hertfordshire District Health Authority. In 1991 the three Hospitals were managed by the Horizon NHS Trust.

In 1994 a new Assessment and Treatment Centre replaced the Admission Assessment Unit which had opened in 1982. Phased closure of the three Hospitals continued, and purpose-built bungalows to house specialist residential units for the remaining patients were built on the Harperbury Hospital site. When Leavesden Hospital closed in 1995 its remaining patients were transferred to Harperbury, and similarly when Cell Barnes Hospital closed in 1998.

Harperbury Hospital finally closed in 2001, the last of the large institutions in the area.

2008: "The central part of the site is still functioning. The administration block, hall, storerooms, laundry, workshops and other buildings are occupied by the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust."

Obviously that has now changed and now even more sections lie derelict.


Services, Engine/Boiler house I'd assume, had some fantastic Victorian tiled brick which made it worth it on it's own. The ceiling was also massively impressive.







The hall



Ex-projector room





Tunnels under the hall



You've got to take a minute to admire those lights




Under stage


Above stage





28DL Regular User
Regular User
Liking your tunnel pics there :thumb nice report :D

mockney reject

Staff member
You didn't hang about mate :)

As for the camera, Anytime. was a pretty cool explore last night, we must go back :)


Super Moderator
Regular User
Top stuff!!

I think it was still in use (in a fashion) last time I was there.

Those lights are amazing...


Flaxenation of the G!!!
Regular User
great stuff. All seemed fairly active when we looked but that was a long time ago now. Good to see something new from the place and certainly much more interesting than the derpy buildings and single swing everyone usually reports on :thumb

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