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Minxy 03-01-2010 21:37

ARCHIVE: Whittingham Hospital/Lancashire County Mental Hospital 1.1.10
Whittingham Hospital/Lancashire County Mental Hospital

Date Opened: 1st April 1873(Founded by the Lancashire Asylums Board)

Date Closed: 1995

Location: near Preston, Lancashire

Architect: Henry Littler of Manchester, Architect to the Lancashire Asylums Board

Layout: Corridor- Pavilion Plan in radial format
annexe in Corridor (courtyard) plan, further annexes in Compact arrow pla

In 1866, the three Lancashire lunatic asylums at Prestwich, Rainhill and Lancaster were deemed to be full.

From "The Builder" 1869 Vol XXVII pp373 8th May 1869

New Lunatic Asylum for Lancashire - Whittingham
At Preston a special meeting of the magistrates of Lancashire has been held to consider the
propriety of erecting another lunatic asylum for the county.
It was stated that authority had been obtained by the General Finance Committee to purchase a site in Whittingham, near Preston, and that one of the instructions of the committee was that the asylum should accommodate 1,000 patients.
The cost would be £20,000. It was resolved that a committee be appointed to provide an additional asylum, and that £20,000 be borrowed on the county rates for the purpose.

Building work started in 1869, originally to accommodate 1000 patients, from designs by Mr. Henry Littler, architect of Manchester, and was finished in 1873
at a cost of £338,300 (slightly over the £20,000 estimate then LOL) The asylum was officially opened on 1st April 1873.
It was built from brick made from clay dug on site from a pit which later became a fish pond. One the plans it is also
called the fish pond but has become known as the duck pond.

The bricks were fired in a kiln on site too, housed in what is known "Super's Hill Woods", at the back of the hospital.

In 1913 the hospital could accommodate 1079 male patients and 1035 female patients.

Additional buildings were erected between the years 1897-1900, including hospital for Infectious Diseases.
Within the grounds which initially covered a site of 60 acres, was a Church, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, and a tower.
The contract for the erection of a Church and a Chaplain's house was awarded in September 1871, estimated costings being £4,632.00 and £1,579. 8s 2d respectively. The church is called St.John's and is the only listed building on the site. It has hot water heated by gas, and an organ was purchased at a cost of £250.

Whittingham Hospital, whose grounds adjoin the village of Goosnargh, grew to be the largest mental hospital in the country, eventually covering 147 acres, and pioneered the use of electroencephalograms (EEGs). By 1923, the hospital was known as “Whittingham Mental Hospital”.

By 1939, the number of patients was 3533, with a staff of 548, making it the largest mental hospital in the country.
By 1948, it had incorporated Ribchester Hospital, and became known as “Whittingham Hospital” under the NHS.

The large site included an Anglican church(St.John's), a Catholic chapel(within the main building), a recreation hall (also used as a ballroom), several farms, gas works, a post office and a butchers.
There was also a brewery on site at one time and part of the workers wage was alcohol! The daily diet of patients and staff included one glass of Ale.

The Railway
The Whittingham Hospital Railway was a two-mile private branch to Grimsargh, built in 1887, to provide coal and supplies to the asylum. It also provided free transport for staff and visitors. With declining economic circumstances, the line closed to all traffic on 19th June 1957 following the 7:20 pm service from Grimsargh to Whittingham. Mr G. Wright, who had spent his entire working life as a driver on the Whittingham Hospital Railway was at the controls

At the end of the first World War, a part of the hospital (later known as “St Margaret’s Division”) was used as a military hospital. It was again used for this purpose during the second World War.

There are five war graves in the cemetery, four from the first World War and one from the second World War.

The Mental Health Act of 1960 deemed large institutions like Whittingham to be out of favour and ultimately led to it's closure.
Allegations of cruelty to patients in the 60's led to a public inquiry.

In the 70's and 80's new drugs and treatments were developed and many long term patients were returned to the community or sent to smaller units in the area.

The hospital eventually closed in 1995.

Thanks for looking :D

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