Monday, 27 October 2014

Seeking Asylum in North Wales

The North Wales Hospital also known as Denbigh Asylum is a Grade II Listed building, designed by architect Thomas Full James. The following information comes from Wikipedia and The North Wales Hospital Historical Society.

 Building started in 1844 and completed in 1848.

The brief for the architect appointed to design the building was complicated and required a great deal of thought and ingenuity. He had to separate males and females. Then, within each gender he had to separate First class patients with superior accommodation from Second class with less comfortable accommodation and from Pauper or Parish patients with basic accommodation. In addition, within each gender he had to keep epileptic patients and violent patients separate from the rest. He needed to find rooms for Officers and Attendants who were all expected to live in as well as a Chapel and other important services such as Kitchen, Laundry and Stores. 
 Furthermore, the committee could not decide how many patients they would need to cater for so he had to make it possible to extend to accommodate from 60 to 200 patients.
Diagnoses 1850
Mania Acute
Mania Acute with attempted suicide
Mania Acute chronic
Mania Acute with general paralysis
Mania Acute purperal

1960 Enoch Powell visited the hospital and announced its eventual demise with the Hospital plan for England and Wales which proposed Psychiatric units attached to General Hospitals and more community care.

On 22 November 2008, during work to renovate the building site and convert it to apartments and residential properties, the building caught fire; it was later confirmed that the main hall of the hospital was destroyed. Arson was suspected. Currently on the buildings at risk register, planning permission has currently lapsed. In 2011 the building was at risk of collapsing and no action was taken by the owners after an urgent works notice was issued, the local council had no choice but to carry out repairs on the building which has reached £930,000. In 2013, Denbighshire Council voted to press ahead with a compulsory purchase order on the building; the council, however, wish to reach an agreement with the owners before taking legal action. An estimated cost of repairing the building is £1 million.
We arrived on a showery October morning. Lighting was not ideal - flitting from bright sunshine to dark clouds. There were numerous signs warning of the dangers of entering. On first inspection it looked unlikely that we would be able to get onto the grounds but we soon resolved that.
The gate house by the entrance appeared to be occupied and this added to the adrenaline rush on getting onto the land.
We didn't linger too long at the front of the still impressive building for this very reason. Soon we were at the side of the building and found a courtyard. This must have been a rather grand, imposing building in its heyday. Sadly now all the windows are broken, some are boarded up and all that could be heard was the buzzing of a chainsaw at a nearby property.

We entered the building through an open door and found a corridor which was barely no more than bare bricks, with the floors above missing. It was evident that this really is an unsafe building so we didn't linger for too long. The warnings about Asbestos being present were also a little unnerving.

This would probably have been an inmate's room? It was little more than a cupboard in size.
This is two floors but with a floor missing.
Looking up.
Two minutes after we left the building, the door slammed closed. It wasn't particularly windy so it was a little unnerving. Especially as the place is supposedly very haunted. I didn't sense any "presence" whilst I was there but the creaking doors and doors shutting were a little odd. This building was undoubtedly a place of abject misery and tortured souls when it was occupied.
We continued our tour of the outside. Pausing by another door, I heard a door inside creaking as it somebody was opening it. Nobody seemed to be there.
We walked all the way round the back of the complex, amazed at how big the hospital was. It started to rain heavily so we took shelter in some sort of warehouse, complete with scales.
We then stumbled upon these huge storage containers.
Possibly the best discovery was the chapel, located right at the back, set in its own woods.
Nature was fighting back and winning, as usual.
 The floor was totally unsafe but we managed to get inside just enough to take some interior shots.
This was what remains of one of the hospital corridors. We went "inside" to have a look and my companion spotted two men, who just turned out to be fellow photographers but I was convinced they were "security" and felt far too much adrenaline coursing through my body than is comfortable! They barely said hello and left us to it.
This was the remains of another corridor. More broken glass, peeling paint and wallpaper and damp.

Some of the many broken windows we found.
I wonder how the inmates felt, looking out of these windows?
 And the doors . . .

So many staircases - very few were safe enough to venture up.
The building reflected in the rain on a flat roof.
More scales.
An old, broken TV that was discarded, outside. 

 I think that this shot perfectly captures the place. Ivy creeping in through the window. Claiming back the area. Nature always wins . . .
I have since seen video footage of the "hauntings" and heard about the rather unpleasant security guard with the huge Alsatian and am rather glad that we were left alone during our visit. I rather enjoyed this place, despite being long past its best.

No comments:

Post a Comment