- Aug 25, 2014
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Costing £350,000 and ten years to build, the Cardiff City Asylum opened on 15 April 1908. The main hospital building covered 5 acres (2.0 ha), designed to accommodate 750 patients across 10 wards, 5 each for men and women. Like many Victorian institutes, it was designed as a self-contained institute, with its own 150 feet (46 m) water tower atop a power house containing two Belliss and Morcom steam engine powered electric generator sets, which were only removed from standby in the mid-1980s. The site also contained a farm, which provided both food supplies and therapeutic work for the patients.
The first medical superintendent was Dr Edwin Goodhall, whose then advanced approaches and therapies resulted in the hospital acquiring a reputation at the forefront of mental health care. Patients were also encouraged to take work and supervised tours outside the institute.
During World War I, the facility was called the Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital.
During World War II, part of the hospital was turned over to the military, becoming the largest emergency service hospital in South Wales, treating British, US Army and German personnel. 200 beds were retained for civilian use, which enabled early treatment of post traumatic stress disorder of military patients.
On 5 July 1948, the hospital was taken over by the Ministry of Health as the National Health Service came into existence. It continued to be used through to the mid-1980s, when care in the community began to reduce the number of resident patients.
The decision was made to close the hospital as it was no longer deemed suitable for patients. Closure of the hospital is today, 29th April 2016.
As always, explored with my better half @hamtagger . This place had become a little bit of a fixation to us. Knowing as most of you probably did that closure was imminent we decided to pay it a visit. The hospital recently had an exhibition showing the history of Whitchurch and it had finished a week before our visit, only downfall is we would have got to see the hall but where is the fun in being allowed in somwhere! This place had 10 wards, they are huge wards, built on 2 floors. When we visited only 2 of those wards were in use on the East side and they were the secure unit which were moved to the new Llandough Hospital earlier this week. 90% of the site is disused. On site there is a funeral home and a hospice both of which are still and will still remain active now that the hospital has closed.
The whole site is pretty vast, the corridors are long and echoey, we never saw a single person while walking around the main sections. The wards were all closed and padlocked off inside but this didn't really bother us too much. We just enjoyed sneaking round capturing it like it is now. HT said to me wouldnt it be nice to look back on these pics in years to come and see what it did look like. A severalls in the making if nothing happens with it. As you can see not a lot was accessible but it wil give you an idea of what it is like. Parts of it reminded me of Goodmayes Asylum in Essex, it had that feel to it. Especially with working lights and the colour of red on the windows and doors. The place hadn't been looked after which was a shame really. Decay had allready started. Some corridors were closed off due to colapsing ceilings. The water tower was locked off because of Aspestos. Reading a story online, millions had been spent renovating one of the concrete rings on one side of the tower only a few years ago. The building is beautiful. Red brick with a single line of yellow brick right through the middle. The grounds are just as nice, old flowerbeds now overgrown but still spring flowers coming through.
On our way out we were met by Security at the main desk, we explained to him that we were just looking at the buildings. Luckily we were on our way out and he told us that he didn't mind us taking externals so there was our chance to walk around the whole site externally. I got chatting to him and asked him about his job. He explained that he had started working for the gardens when he was 17 as a stopgap before he found something else to do, 44 years later he is still there. I could see the bond he had with this building with the closure ahead. He was emotionally attached to it, you could see the sadness in his eyes when he talked about it. He talked to us about the cannabis factory that was found a few years back in one of the derelict wards. He laughed when he said that staff thought he was behind it. All in all really nice to speak to him, someone with knowledge.
So really a maze of corridors to see and a lot locked down, this place has a mortuary but I am led to believe that it's 50/50 as to wether there is a slab inside it still. I am told that it is stored for gas bottles. The main hall is amazing but I only got to see it through cracks in the doors. Currently being used for storage of medical records and equiptment it was heavily locked. Whitchurch has a lot more to offer but for us its a waiting game until it becomes more accessible inside.
In particular I loved the Matron's door. This place had a lot of original features left and this was one of them.
Anyway enough of my waffle, I am sure that many of you will vsit this place in time. On with the pics
An aerial view of the whole site, arrow plan.
1 : The Main entrance
2 : The Pavillions had seen better days
3 : Westside, Innit bruv!
4 : One of the smaller villa's on site, more recently being used for admin
5 : One of the secure Units for the higher risk patients
7 : East Side
8 : Some more of the East side
9 : The external of the curved corridor
17 : The corridor Kink
18 : A bit of artwork from a former patient
20 : The corridor which led you to the Mortuary & Tower, sadly closed off
21 : Sad times for Whitchurch
22 : The main entrance
23 : A little history from when it was a military hospital
Thanks for looking!
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