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Barrow Mental Hospital, Bristol, April 2012

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Barrow Hospital (sometimes referred to as Barrow Gurney Hospital) was a psychiatric hospital in Barrow Gurney, Somerset

The hospital was designed by Sir George Oatley of Bristol to the then-innovative colony plan based on detached 'villas' centred around a central cluster of service buildings. The plan called for 25 villas to house 1,200 patients, treatment centres for local authority and private patients, a chapel, recreation hall, laundry and central kitchens.

The buildings were austerely constructed of red brick with pantiled mansard roofs and were situated so as to give a sense of community and privacy as well as to take advantage of the wooded surroundings which were retained and enhanced by tree-thinning and landscaping.

Construction began in 1934 and although the hospital was not officially opened until 3rd May 1939, Barrow Hospital received its first patients in May 1938 with the complex still only half-built. It was intended that the rest of the planned buildings should be gradually added over the following years as funds allowed, but the outbreak of war in September 1939 halted all work on site and the architect's full vision was never realised.

At the outbreak of the Second World War the hospital was commandeered by the Royal Navy and became the Royal Naval Auxiliary Hospital, Barrow Gurney. The hospital treated seamen who had been injured during conflicts or who were suffering from psychological distress, brought in through the nearby Port of Bristol In 1940, the daily average number of patients under treatment was 356 and the medical and nursing staff numbered 215. The Naval Hospital was decommissioned and returned to civilian use in 1946.

In 1960 the hospital's population reached a peak of 453. At this time it was predicted that new community-based care initiatives would lead to a decline in patient numbers to 200 by 1975 but in the event this target was not met. However, there was a noticeable decline in numbers during the 1970s and some residential wards were replaced with out-patient and community support services.

In 2003 the Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust announced its intention to close Barrow Hospital by 2008. By 2004 only three residential wards remained open. A report published by Mind in 2003 found that on the issue of the hospital's closure, opinion among patients was divided with groups of patients having strong feelings both for and against. In 2005 a national survey of hospital cleanliness named Barrow as the dirtiest in Britain after inspectors found cigarette burns on floors, graffiti on walls, urine stains around a toilet and stains from bodily fluids on the bottom of a hoist chair. The report, combined with the collapse of part of the ceiling onto the head of a patient the same year saw the closure plan brought forward and the last ward closed the following year.

After closure, the hospital attracted a variety of unofficial visitors including metal thieves, vandals and graffiti artists who contributed to the deterioration of the buildings.

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Very nice that mate!we had a quick wander due to an over head helicopter looking for stragglers as police where escorting people off as we arrived ;)

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