Report - - North Wales Hospital, Denbigh - April/May '11 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - North Wales Hospital, Denbigh - April/May '11


Cave Monster
28DL Full Member
This is Pool Park's big brother. The North Wales Hospital, or Denbigh mental as it's known locally, was opened in in 1848. It was purportedly built as a haven for welsh speaking residents because of the language barrier and prejudice they would face receiving treatment at an english hospital. Construction began in 1844 only 8 years after Dr. William Ellis in his 1836, Treatise on Insanity, proposed giving “keepers of the insane better” pay and training to attract more respectable and intelligent people. The first entry in the subscription list for the hospital is dated 1840 and reads 'Her Majesty Queen Victoria, 50 guineas”.

The hospital was built in the tudorbethian style and has seen many renovations and extensions in its 147 year history as an operating hospital. At it's peak it had 1,500 patients and 1,000 staff. As with most asylums Denbigh was almost entirely self-sufficient, but unlike other hospitals Denbigh doesn't appear to have had a water tower, but according to Robert Frost who used to live on site, it had a reservoir in the moors above the hospital. It had it own laundry and power station which generated 110 volts DC, when most places where 240 volts AC. This problem was overcome by complicated and fearsome looking electrical equipment that converted 110v DC to 240vAC. Similarly to Prestwich asylum the Hospital had its own farm, right next to main buildings, and supplied nearly everything to feed 1500 patients plus staff - vegetables, potatoes, wheat, milk, meat. The farm included several hundred pigs (fed on swill from the kitchens), and even had a licenced slaughter house.

The hospital was closed in phases from 1991 until 2002, with the main hospital closing in 1995. The locals in Denbigh have mixed memories of the hospital and as maybe expected, non-patients have more fond memories of the place. From a local resident called Lynda:
“My friend was taken there after a complete mental breakdown in 1968. I went to visit her and walked down this corridor to the ward. There were people standing against the walls talking to themselves and completely unaware of passing people. when I reached the ward there were beds set in rows against the walls and down the middle. As I passed some beds there was a figure lying in one of them, all covered up, one of the patients laughed and pulled the covers back, it was a wax dummy with its mouth open. At that moment I nearly fainted. It was a fabulous building but the inside was frightening. The care the patients received was excellent”
Although as I said, other locals such as Ceri, think differently:
"I am a Denbigh resident now living in Edinburgh, or NEAR Edinburgh. Denbigh Mental, from what I can remember was a horrible place. It looks even worse now that it lies empty. I used to have to go there as a child of 4 or 5 for my EEGs (I was epileptic) because that was the only hospital at the tine that did them so regularly.
I remember sitting in a whitewashed room with a one way window/mirror and a room on the other side with all the equipment (god it was ancient then and it was the 1980s) and I was sat on the opposite side on a bed that looked more like a morgue slab."
Cerys was an inpatient and agrees with Ceri:
“I was a patient on Arenig ward and others too. I was so ill at the time, it was a great help to me then but not the several doses of ECT! I would never want to enter such a place EVER again.”

As you can see from the picture above in it's heyday the building was immaculate. Now it's in a very sad state indeed. In 2004 Prince Charles visited the hospital and made a speech under the auspices of his Phoenix Trust (now part of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust) to try and prevent the structure from being demolished. From Cerys again:
“When I was taken there after closure, I cried about what I had gone through as a patient at that time, but it's very sad to see the building in such a state these days."
The hospital is now under the care of caretaker/keyholder, Elwyn Pierce. He met Prince Charles in 2004 and is apparently responsible for the place. His effectiveness in this regard is very dubious as in 2008 the main hall of the hospital spontaneously combusted.

From The Daily Post:
"A fire has broken out at a former hospital unit in Denbigh. Around 50 firefighters, plus 8 appliances and crew are tackling the blaze at the former psychiatric unit. They were called at 6.19 this morning (Sat). It is unknown how the fire started. It is believed the fire is in the area of the great hall of the hospital, which has grade II listed buildings."

The main hall ended up being demolished and there is a lot of speculation in the urban exploration community as to whether this is part of a series of listed buildings spontaneously combusting.

This report is from a total of 3 visits to Denbigh, the first being abortive as I met Mr. Peirce and his pooch. On the second and third visits I managed to cover about two thirds of the site, including the clocktower. I still have bits to cover so there may be more reports from here in the future.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and the commentary that comes with them!


Welcome to The North Wales Hospital, Denbigh




The View from the clock tower


Graffiti from peoples first trip up the tower


The state of the corridors...


...and the wards





A mural painted by the residents of Bala ward in 1986



Laughter, - ALLEGEDLY - The best medicine


Three stories, one floor


I don't know if you can tell, but the floor is sagging and buckling the partition wall



The remnants of the false ceilings remind me of Half Life or something


Inside the building near the main entrance


This is where my first proper visit ended but having only seen about a third of the hospital I knew that I had to get back.​


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Cave Monster
28DL Full Member
Re: North Wales Hospital, Denbigh


Where the main hall should be



The main entrance was the alarm coordination point



We found the union office. In the basement.


FOUR stories, one floor


Ward panorama. Click for the full size version


Side room stitch. Click for the full size version


Click for the full size version



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