On tour up North (UK) with Danny and Ian
The previous night we were knee deep in a drain from a very cool explore down an old Victorian Culvert with Nikon Morris and Cloaked up, it was really nice to meet those guys. Me, Gravitas and Reaper were soaked we made our way to Whittingham Asylum, we arrived at 2am in the pitch black unable to use our torches because we didn't want to get caught by security, knackered we climbed a 10ft fence and then another smaller fence, before climbing into a corridor inside the hospital, it was the only entry we could find, security knew it was there, therefore they filled it with cow poop.. Not nice at 3am in the morning. We tight roped across a beam to avoid the cow shite finally make it into the hospital.
We set up our sleeping bags on a mouldy piece of carpet in an incredible decaying room, with holes in the floor. It was the best area we could find, in that the celling wasnt falling down and we could shut the door, there was no shutting curtains though and the slightly strange stretching shadows creeped all over the room.
A slightly weird and unnerving 2 hours of 'sleep' the voices and shadows stopped me really from sleeping I think, apparently this place is haunted and with the ghastly things that happened in this place I could believe that for this night.
Defiantly the craziest place I have ever slept, but we needed sleep and when we were up at 6am we began our explore of the beautifully decayed Victorian asylum. What I loved most about it was the peeling paint, with its texture and decay and the atmosphere of walking around was so surreal.
The hospital was founded in 1869 and grew to be the largest mental hospital in Britain, and pioneered the use of electroencephalograms (EEGs). During its time it had its own church, farms, railway, telephone exchange, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band, ballroom and butchers. It closed in 1995.
The hospital officially opened on 1 April 1873. The large complex (later known as St. Luke's Division) had an initial capacity of 1000 inmates and included an Anglican church, a Catholic chapel, a recreation hall and a large farm estate.
In 1878 a new annexe (later known as St. John's Division) was built on 68 acres of land to the north of the site. The annexe was completed in 1880 and accommodated 115 patients and, by the special agreement of the Postmaster General, the hospital's own dedicated Post Office In 1884, a sanatorium was established in the grounds for patients with infectious diseases.
In 1892 works began for the grounds to be illuminated by electric lamps; these works were completed in 1894. Around this time an annexe called Cameron House was opened to the northwest of the main building, joined in 1912 by a third annexe, later to become known as St Margaret's division. By 1915 the number of inmates was recorded as 2,820 - more than double the asylum's original capacity.
On 18 July 1967, the Student Nurses' Association held a meeting with the senior nursing tutor, submitting serious complaints of cruelty, ill-treatment and fraud in the hospital. The Head Male Nurse then called a meeting of all students in which the students were threatened with actions for libel and slander. Several further complaints were suppressed until the following year when the Hospital Management Committee finally intervened and announced an inquiry into allegations of corruption and abuse. The inquiry divided the allegations into three specific headings: Care of Patients, Organisation of Services, and Financial Control. The enquiry heard (among others) the following complaints:
- That patients had been left untreated.
- That some patients had been given only bread and jam to eat or had been given food mixed up and served as "slops".
- That some patients had been locked outside, regardless of weather conditions, or in washrooms and cupboards.
- That in one ward, students had witnessed patients being dragged about by their hair.
- That on ward 3, a male ward, patients were given "wet towel treatment", which involved twisting a cold, wet towel or bed sheet round a patient's neck until the patient lost consciousness. Patients were also seen to have been punched and locked in a storeroom.
- On ward S2, another male ward, it was alleged that two male nurses had poured methylated spirits into the slippers of one patient and into the dressing gown pocket of another and set them alight.
- It was also reported that some wards were infested with vermin and others were too cold, too hot or too damp. In addition, it was found that there was a culture of petty theft on the wards and of serious fraud and embezzlement in some administrative offices.
- In 1968–69, £91,000 was issued from sources for the use of patients, yet only £42,000 was recorded as having been spent in the hospital shop, supposedly leaving the remaining £49,000 unaccounted for.
As a result of the investigation, both the Head Male Nurse and the Matron took early retirement. Two male nurses were convicted of theft and in a separate incident another nurse was jailed for manslaughter after an elderly patient he had assaulted later died.
During the 1970s and 1980s, new drugs and therapies were introduced to treat people suffering from mental illnesses. Long-stay patients were returned to the community or dispersed to smaller units around Preston. The hospital closed in 1995. and the site subsequently became known as "Guild Park". In 1999, Guild Lodge was opened on the edge of Guild Park, providing secure mental healthcare services to a small number of patients, followed the next year by purpose-built rehabilitation cottages close by.
It is planned to build 650 new homes on the site and to convert some of the hospital buildings for use as apartments. However, these plans will not proceed until a date for the construction of the Broughton bypass is known. While some buildings on the outskirts of the site have been demolished, most of the buildings on site are presently derelict.