Whittingham Lunatic Asylum - Preston - June 2010
Explored with MNB1981.
Aerial View Of Whittingham
Well, what can I say about this one. If not one of my favourite explores, not because of the features, or the decay, quite frankly the atmosphere of this place was fantastic.
Long winding, glazed and cell-ridden corridors, linking the whole place together, with a gem around every corner, the wards stand still in peace, the corridors empty of roaming 'lunatics' and the peace and bliss of the wonderful land that this beautiful structure lie's within. Never have I been to such a site with such an expanse and variety of decay and every area has a different character, brilliant.
I have been wanting to do this for sometime, so managed to dig into some research and got some interest, and decided to head out 4.30 this morning.
The History on this place is wide, mixed and varied. With credit to The Whittingham Hospital Website.
On completion of St Luke's division, the first part of the hospital to be built, rules for staff were published; staff had to be on duty by 0600 and retire to bed by 2200. They were allowed to go out one day every three weeks and one Sunday every month. Any 'attendant' who lost a patient, had to pay the expenses incurred in their retrun to the hospital. In 1878 Cooper & Tullis built the Annex (St John's division) following the purchase of 68 acres of land. The Annex was completed in 1880 and then accommodated 115 patients. The Post Office was constructed within St John's division with the agreement of the Postmaster General; the hospital now had its own Post Office! In 1884 telephone communications were established with Preston at an annual cost of Â£20. In the same year, an Infectious Diseases Sanatorium was established, known as Fryars' Villa, named after Alderman James Fryar who, at one time, was Chairman of the Hospital Committee.
In 1890 the "Lunacy Act" was passed by Parliament; this was one of the greatest pieces of legislation in the history of Asylum. 1892 saw arrangements being made for the grounds to be illuminated by the new 'electric lamps', and this was completed in 1894.
In 1901 the introduction of 10/- (ten shillings - (50 pence today)) per week was introduced for staff on annual leave in lieu of rations. The attendant staff wanted a shorter working week at this time, as their recorded working week was 98 hours! Annual leave at this time was; 10 days for Attendants; 12 days for Second Charges and 14 days for Charge Attendants. The daily diet of patients and staff included one glass of Ale which was brewed on site in the hospital's own brewery!
1912 saw the construction of the New Annex (or West Annex) to become known as St Margaret's division; prior to this, Cameron House was completed and opened and named after James Cameron.
In 1918/19 the New West Annex (St Margaret's) was evacuated as an Asylum and turned over to the Military for their use in the care of sick and injured from the First World War. There are four graves in the hospital cemetery which are under the care of the War Graves Commission relating to casualties of the First World War (there is one from the Second World War too, although this one appears to be the grave of an Italian internee).
Committee records show at this time, the change of name from "Whittingham Asylum" to "Whittingham Mental Hospital".
The Commissioners noted in 1929 that an 'open door' principle was practised on a number of wards, and in 1930 Parliament passed the first "Mental Health Act", resulting in the first "voluntary" patients being admitted. The term "Asylum" was replaced by "Mental Hospital" and the term "Lunatic" was replaced by "person of unsound mind". In 1932 the patient population exceeded 3,000 for the first time, and at this time, staff numbers are recorded as being 433.
Since the beginning, the hospital had its own Brass Band and Orchestra, both of which achieved very high standards. Both patients and staff were members of these two functions. Later Whittingham developed a sporting tradition, which was encouraged by the Management Committee, and achieved a reputation of which it is justly proud - cricket is still played on the hospital pitch today and it is home to Whittingham and Goosnargh Cricket Club.
The innovation of staff at Whittingham produced the very first EEG machine. This was a result of the collaboration between Dr C S Parker and Mr Charles Breakall, and the encephlograph was born! This equipment was produced from War Surplus material which, at the time, was being sold for Â£2.10.0d (two pounds, ten shillings) per hundredweight! An article was published in the "Lancet" describing this new innovation, and considerable interest was expressed by the American Department for Space Medicine, the forerunner of NASA.
1953 saw staff shortages such that recruitment had to be carried out from overseas. This proved a success, staff were recruited from places such as France, Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Malta and Mauritus, broadening gently, the cultural scope of Whittingham.
During this period there was also a sad event in that Whittingham's very own railway was closed down. The railway began in 1887 and ran from the British Rail junction at Grimsargh through to Whittingham, carrying stores, supplies, staff, patients relatives and visitors. The final run of the Whittingham train was made in 1957 ending seventy years of service.
1960 saw the implementation of the new "Mental Health Act" and this, in addition to the new forms of pharmacological treatment available saw vast improvements for people with Mental Illness problems. This was, alas, also the beginning of the end of Whittingham. Large and outmoded Victorian institutions such as Whittingham were deemed not to be the way forward in the treatment of Mental Illness (a fact since proved, without a doubt, wrong!) and small, 'specialised' units were to be created adjacent to large general hospitals. Even with the modern treatments available today, "asylum" in itself was a valued form of treatment and a very worthwile one too. There was then, there is now, and there always will be, a very real need for asylum!
I hope you enjoy.
You will find yourself within a maze of long, segregated corridors.
Some of which are in a severe state of dereliction and disrepair.
Off these corridors are rows of 'Cells' assumingly monitored and or solitary confinement spaces.
Smaller corridors and walkways branch of these to numerous different rooms.
Whichever way you go, you will ultimately end up at a ward, there was a main ward on all three floors at the end of each corridor.
Inside, most of the wards were the same
Some had beds...
A lot of the upper windows were either open or broke, allowing for a constant exposure...