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Report - - Harperbury Odds and Ends... 27/1/2007 | Asylums and Hospitals |

Report - Harperbury Odds and Ends... 27/1/2007

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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
There's something oddly captivating about Harperbury. You wouldn't think so, to look at it. On the most obvious side, the empty villas - spread around a football pitch - offer little excitement. They are bare, trashed, and in many ways quite uninteresting. I'd seen this about 6 months ago, with Alias, and we lasted all of about 15 minutes before rushing off to our "main event" elsewhere.

But on Saturday, Payno and I were there for the day. No option to run off somewhere else. The only choice - immerse ourselves.

We'd made a basic error - neither of us had brought water. And oh, the irony. The pikey trashing, pipes ripped and spewing everywhere, recalled the phrase "water water everywhere, but none to drink". At one point we come across a corner of a villa where it was actually hot water that was flooding out, the source room being full of steam. Elsewhere, water was pouring in from the roof - where there were so few tiles left, one wondered how they had found the time to get down to Devon and grab a few BMWs off the beach. The stripping was, err, "comprehensive". No security = free for all. :(


As my thirst started to get the better of me, we decide we will have to find *something*. A vending machine perhaps? It is, after all, semi live. And now the ghostly Harperbury experience begins. We see a man walking towards us. Payno ask him if he knows whether there is a shop. His blank stare and continued march says only one thing - he's a patient. We see him over and over again, walking the grounds.

One of the last functions of the hospital is to cater for people with learning difficulties. Care in the community beckons. I can't imagine someone like that having a nice restful walk around our average town and city - so it's more poignant in way to see this place, as a dying hospital, rather than a dead one.

The original layout was fairly traditional - male side, female side, but also a children's section. Although that area would, logically, have been central, there is this swing over on the side by the football pitch:


Shortly after seeing that patient, we find another group - two visitors and patient. We ask if there is cafe or something? RESULT. There is. They show us the way there, and tell us - with some regret - about how the place is being wound down. Demo'd. The cafe is closed. This is a ghost town hospital. Cars are dotted around but not one building appears to properly live. Where are the people? Eventually we find a block that we can walk into. Upstairs I find a bathroom. This must be residential - there are fresh shampoo remains in the bath. WATER!! AT LAST!!

Inside one of the villas...


Later we are nearing the cafe again... and some people are going in, to unlock. Inside, we are soon talking to the guy who runs it. Like the other people we've spoken to, he seems to have a thing about the place, and the other local hospitals. He can see we're fully loaded with cameras, and indeed I think guesses we are here to poke around in the buildings, but realises we aren't any harm. He tells us the stories of what the hospital used to have - the orchard, the swimming pool... and stuff we didn't know about, like tunnels.

The light is disappearing. We have to go. "When are you open til?" "7.30"... with that we make our last rounds of what is a deceptively big site. Over towards maintainance we find a wheelchair repair building. Still live, and secure, we peer through the windows. Lines and lines of wheelchairs, all tagged and orderly... very surreal.

Elsewhere: The bath, under the "natural spotlight"

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