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Report - - Whitchurch Hospital (Cardiff City Asylum), Cardiff - 2016-2018 | Asylums and Hospitals | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Whitchurch Hospital (Cardiff City Asylum), Cardiff - 2016-2018



clebby

( . Y . )
Regular User
Whitchurch Hospital, née the Cardiff City Asylum.

Here's a picture I took on the sly so that the children playing bowls didn't think I was being a nonce.



Ermmm, does no one who goes here bother taking a camera or something?? Not being funny but this is probably one of the best sites in the UK right now, and whilst I have seen some noble efforts to document the place (most notably an excellent report by @Olkka), I also know that most of you lot have already been and utterly Simon Cornwell'ed the place! Quite why such a small number of photos have surfaced online is completely beyond me, though I suspect it has to do with others wanting to feel like part of that 'special club' of people who think they're in the know. Yawn..

I realise I probably sound like a hypocrite, as my history with Whitchurch stretches back to 2016 and yet I'm only posting some photos up now. In my defence, back then it was a veritable fortress inside and 99% of what you see in these photos was inaccessible (@Salmon and I had a particularly frustrating game of cat and mouse with security that came to a sorry end in the laundry). I guess what I find frustrating is that I've seen snippets of epic posted up on instagram over the past 10 months or so (unnamed of course), during which time security seems to have become more lax, yet none of this has been posted online?? Folks, I know this is a contentious issue but let's be a bit more open and sharing - it's better for everyone involved.

Some history:

In the latter half of the 19th century the population of Cardiff expanded greatly, from under 20,000 in 1851 to over 40,000 20 years later. Cardiff was intially very reluctant to spend money building it's own asylum, and by 1890 there were 476 Cardiff residents "boarded out" in the Glamorgan Asylum, and a further 500 to 600 being held in hospitals as far away as Chester and Carmarthen. This leasing arrangement soon become problematic, and so by the turn of the century it was decided that a second asylum had to be built.

Costing £350,000 and taking ten years to build, the Cardiff City Asylum opened on 15 April 1908. The main hospital building covered 5 acres and was designed to accommodate 750 patients across 10 wards, 5 each for men and women. Like many Victorian institutions, it was designed to be self-contained, with its own 150 feet water tower atop a power house containing two Belliss and Morcom steam-powered electric generator sets, which were only removed from standby in the mid-1980s. The site also contained a farm, which provided both food supplies and therapeutic work for the patients.

The first medical superintendent was Dr Edwin Goodhall, whose then advanced approaches and therapies resulted in the hospital acquiring a reputation at the forefront of mental health care. Patients were also encouraged to take work and supervised tours outside the asylum.

During World War II, part of the hospital was turned over to the military, becoming the largest emergency service hospital in South Wales, treating British, US Army and German personnel. 200 beds were retained for civilian use, which enabled early treatment of post traumatic stress disorder of military patients. On 5 July 1948, the hospital was taken over by the Ministry of Health as the National Health Service came into existence. It continued to be used through to the mid-1980s, when care in the community began to reduce the number of resident patients.

In November 2010 the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board decided that it was preferable to centralise all adult mental health care services at the nearby Llandough Hospital, and Whitchurch finally closed it's doors in April 2016.
I actually think it's been a bumper couple of years for asylum exploring. What with Whitchurch, Cefn Coed and St Cadocs in South Wales, Sunnyside/Stratheden in Scotland and Goodmayes in England, there's still some decent stuff to be seen if you're willing to put the effort in. If you'd told me 3 years ago that my days of scurrying over corridor roofs and dicking about in the shadow of a Victorian water tower weren't over, I’d have laughed you out the room!

What makes Whitchurch all the more remarkable though is that it's not just good by today's standards, it's good full stop. Even 10 or so years ago, when asylum exploring in Britain was at it's peak, this would have stood out from the crowd.. in fact, with the obvious exceptions of Cane Hill and West Park, I'd go as far as to say that this is better than a lot of the stuff we were seeing back then. I can only see a downward spiral from this point onwards though, and so if asylums are your thing then I implore you to make the effort with this one - you won't regret it.

Main Hall

I'll start with one of the main events at any asylum, the Main Hall.



With the exception of the mocked-up hospital rooms built to one side (showing patients and staff what the facilities in the new hospital would be like) the hall is pretty sublime.









Surrounding the hall are a number of other recreational/welfare facilities, such as the wonderfully dated canteen:







The dentists (originally Matron's Office)





And the amazing hair salon:





Admin

With the exception of High Royds, this is probably the best admin I've seen. Built in the 'Wrenaissance' style (after Sir Christopher Wren) it's not especially large but wonderfully original.





The Committee Room:





Upstairs, an amazing barrel vaulted room:









The corridor connecting admin to the rest of the hospital - there are some other interesting features along here (patients bank etc) but alas, no photos today!



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clebby

( . Y . )
Regular User
Wards

At first glance, the wards themselves appear fairly modern - not as chopped about as those down the road at Cefn, but still nothing too special. Loads of stuff left, it's just all modern and boring!









That said, some wards were surprisingly dated if you were willing to look beyond the magnolia:





Ward West 5

One notable exception is Ward West 5, which inexplicably closed in the early 1980s whilst the rest of the hospital was refurbished:





Amazing bathrooms:









Pathology

Another part of the hospital which had been closed for a long time was the Pathology Lab. This was really great - a lot of modern tat had been dumped in one of the rooms, but underneath it was a real time capsule.





Beautiful cabinetry







Pharmacy

The pharmacy wasn't bad either, and believe it or not those cabinets were in use for dispensing right up until 2016!







Note the security bars covering every possible access point to the pharmacy:



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clebby

( . Y . )
Regular User
Kitchens

Pretty self-explanatory - lots to see but not particularly photogenic











Stores

This was one of the best bits if you ask me. Very dated and teeming with all sorts of crazy paperwork and curiosities.









Light switch epic







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clebby

( . Y . )
Regular User
Assistant Medical Quarters

Another part of the hospital to escape modernisation was the nurses home/assistant medical quarters at the back. Most asylums had this arrangement, though these tended to be designed as the superintendent's residence originally before being converted at a later date.



Dat carpet tho







Nice original bathrooms as well:





Therapeutic Baths

These were amazing. There was one on each side of the asylum, for males and females - we only saw the male side, but nonetheless I've never seen anything like it in an asylum before. Although it's been converted into a shower room at some point (a long time ago by the looks of it!), it's still unbelievable inside. Note the brass handles and slate partitions.





Makers plate on one of the slate partitions





Beautiful ceiling in the room next door



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clebby

( . Y . )
Regular User
Engineering

This used to be the power house, and right up until the 80s it still housed a pair Bellis and Morcom generator sets :(



Probably the most amazing artefact in the whole place was this portable fire engine. This surely can't be any later than the 1920s, if not original!



Boiler house:



Water Tower

As one might expect, this was one of the first targets but also one that alluded me for quite some time!







Now there's a view you're not going to see much more of



Tunnels underneath the tower - there's well over a mile of these at Whitchurch, which track the extensive corridor network above



Hospital Shop

Loudest alarm ever





Couple of miscellaneous ones to finish on





Go here!
 
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clebby

( . Y . )
Regular User
For cunting hells sake the upload's done something weird to my photos! I'll replace them with hi res ones later.
 

mockney reject

Horrendous exploring cunt......
Regular User
Totally outstanding mate.

About time you posted this lot up :)
 

Seffy

Bally up!
Regular User
I guess the reason it's been left unposted as such is that it really is a special one, and not a lot of people head this way compared to London etc so keeping it from being 'Severall'd' was actually a possibility!

Still comprehensive set Clebs so good effort xoxo

*side note - according to @tumbles there was actually a security guard sat out the front today! The mind boggles.
 

Speed

Got Epic?
Regular User
Totally agree, about time someone did a proper up to date report. Best asylum since West Park no doubt. Probably only that and CH that could be called 'better' but even then its almost up there with WP. I thought maybe it was just because we got to see it 'fresh' but even then its much more feature packed than most were. Time will tell if it achieves the same legendary status. My visits there have certainly been memorable tho!

I dont understand why people haven't been posting about it either. Ive just been a bit slack in going back and finishing all the odds and ends to bother with another report but its been in public on here for quite a while and once the tour-bus turned up last year it was plastered across FB etc. so its hardly hidden!
 

Olkka

Nice fat line of Zone
Regular User
Cheers for the shout out Clebs but I think this has taken coverage of Whitchurch's finer and broader details to a new level ; )... I still need to see the tunnels and dentist chair, no idea where they are.
Also this chatter about nobody posting photos, is there some obvious evidence that 'every man and his dog' has actually been here that I'm missing? Something on facebook?
Dat carpet tho
Tell me about it...
this is probably one of the best sites in the UK right now
Also yes. I can't believe there's a better hospital anyway.
And what you say about the asylum era resurgence - as a mid 90s child I missed them all (except a life changing innocent 13-years-old venture into Cane Hill Browning Ward, as I grew up within walking distance, with zero understanding of anything around me before getting totally scared at the wind blowing), but between the to-die-for main hall at Goodmayes, the classic yellow doors at Sunnyside, the wealth of... all sorts of shit in Whitchurch, and the bang-up natural decay (+ bedframes) in Ballinasloe, the British Isles pretty much has all the bases covered for asylums right now from where I'm standing. But I'm no expert. Seeing pictures of the rest of Cane Hill back in day though... If only I was born earlier, it seemed to be totally one of a kind, and it would've been thee local motive for any occasion.
Also why's there always gotta be a who was there first custody battle on here... Anyway I shouldn't complain, for some reason I find the politics of the urbex community strangely fascinating.
 


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