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Involuntary Abstinence

UK Birkwood Hospital, Lesmahagow, Scotland (March 2014)

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So, first of all, hello to everyone! This is my first report in Oblivion State (and any UE-related forum to be honest). Haven't been actively involved with any type of forum for a decade so it's a nice feeling to be back in active duty.

Very briefly, I would like to say a few bits about me. I have been actively exploring since January this year (2014). Did a couple of explores last summer back home, but at the time had no idea there was a thing called "Urban Exploration". Despite it being very recent, it's a bit hard to draw a line between the various incidents that led me to UE taking up 80% of my time. I guess it's one of those things... I was pretty lucky to quickly get involved with seasoned explorers and already feel that I have seen some really amazing places, always with a true sense of "belonging". Ok that's it. On to the report!

I visited Birkwood Hospital earlier this month (March 2014) with 2 non-forum explorers with whom I mostly run with. It was their first time there as well so it was great sharing this experience for the first time as a group, and as individuals.

A few words about Birkwood taken from Archiveshub.co.uk

"Birkwood Hospital was run by Lanarkshire Council for the care of children with severe learning disabilities. Opened in 1923, it provided care for both boys and girls and was one of the few psychiatric hospitals which dealt exclusively with children. Birkwood House, situated in Lesmahagow (Lanarkshire) was originally a stately home built in 1887 for the McKirdy family. Birkwood was purchased by Lanarkshire Council in 1920 and was first occupied as a certified Institution for Mental Defectives on 3rd July 1923. Birkwood House was one of several institutions which opened in accordance with the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act of 1913. The Act was passed ‘to make better and further provision for the care of Mentally Defective Persons and to amend the Law relating to Lunacy in Scotland.’ Birkwood House is a Grade B listed building and had extensions erected in 1921, 1946 and 1958. The new wing added in 1958 cost £94,000 and accommodated up to 80 more patients. The 1966 Western Regional Hospital Board, Hospital Survey and Draft Proposals for Mental Health Services, stated that Birkwood had 316 beds but suggested that could be extended to a further 376 beds to accommodate for overcrowding in Kirklands Hospital. However, by 1976, The Evening Times reported that Birkwood would have to cut beds due to a degree of overcrowding. Gradually, community based care became more acceptable concerning psychiatric patients and The Evening Times reported in 1981 that Birkwood was trialling an independent unit which would allow improving patients to look after themselves with minimum supervision. The Community Care Act 1990 gave rise to a more community-based focus for long-term care and consequently many of the long-term psychiatric hospitals closed. The hospital began to relocate patients in 2002 and officially closed in 2005."

Arriving at the nearby village it already felt like a great day to explore an old abandoned hospital. The day was cold and miserable, though it wasn't raining (much) which is always a plus when you are unsure about your entry points and feel there's bound to be a lot of walking around. We made it over the bridge and started heading uphill a bit worried about a guy and his dog who was way up ahead. There have been earlier reports (and photos) of the owner's caravan laying at the front of the building with the owner living in it actually so we thought this could go either way.

We decided to skip the pathway and walked uphill to cut directly to the back of the hospital.

Reaching the high fences that ran the perimeter on the side and back we found a welcoming opening and once we were in we knew that all we needed was just a nice broken...and there it was, a nice basement window open and waiting for us.

We climbed in and found ourselves in the pitch-black basement. A quick look around revealed amazing decay, though at no point did the place feel dangerous. Little did we know.

We found a staircase and at the top was a small opening through a door through which we squeezed in. Right in front of the opening was just a couple of boards that we decided to avoid stepping on as the gaping holes revealed a significant drop that none of us wanted to experience.


After getting through that bit, the first big room we encountered was a clear indication of how beautiful Birkwood was (and still is in a way), but also how decayed and dangerous it also was. The floors were constantly making me feel as if they were about to disappear under me and in many parts of the building there were big holes. However, it was such the excitement of being in there that we just kept going and going and spent a lot of time in there. After all, we knew of the famous spiral staircase and all 3 of us were desperate in getting there.

The first big room we encountered.


Stairs. Peeling. Decay. What's not to love.


And a nice fireplace at the most inconvenient place ever.


Awesome rooms. Simply breath-taking beauty.


More stairs.


And there it was, the spiral staircase leading to the top of one of the towers.


I couldn't resist not stepping outside but as I put my foot down I realized the floor on the top was wooden (?) and obviously in terrible decay so I just stood on the edge of the door and took a few shots.

One thing I love about UE in Scotland is that I get to see so much of this beautiful country.


After the spiral staircase was done we were done with most of the main building and after taking another look around we made it back out. It was time to explore the rest of the site as there have been many extensions built through the years. All of these buildings were for the most part completely open, so obviously the level of decay was huge. Still, some pretty interesting bits and pieces.


I know, I am a sucker for two things. Stairs and hanging lights/cables.


I loved this instantly. Reflections are great.


This chair screamed "shoot me".


At the restaurant, a small room with beautiful peeling.


And last, but not least, the Birkwood Hospital (main building) in all its glory.


It is clear that there was no caravan at the entrance at the time of our visit and generally we found no security, or no sign of the owner.

As it turned out however, they recently started restoring parts of the building. I think they started with the roof and the window we got in was boarded up recently, plus there are workers at the site now.

I feel very lucky to have been there, not sure if they will actually make it into something or at some point (as it always happens) work will stop as money will run out. I would love to return one day.

So there it is my first report and I feel I overdid it with the narration. I get carried away so I apologize. If you want to see more photos you can check my FB page (see signature).

Thanks for reading and stay frosty people!

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Thats a really nice first Forum post and for me a winning combination.

A good wite up giving an insight to the place and images captured are spot on.

Great to see and thanks for sharing :thumb


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That's a cracking good first report mate, really look forward to seeing more from your explores, cheers for sharing

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cracking first report, i love with when people type about their adventures and not just images !, lovely history write up as well :thumb

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cracking first report, i love with when people type about their adventures and not just images !, lovely history write up as well :thumb

thank you man, I was a bit worried about how to approach this but I am glad people liked it and appreciate the "behind the scenes" type of writing

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