Whittingham hospital has been popular with urban explorers for ages.
Many floors are rotten through and ceilings have collapsed. Nature is clearly taking over these once majestic buildings.
It’s entreating to see that nature clearly is peeling back the layers of time and it reveals the past underneath many layers of paint.
My photos don’t do justice to the size as it simply is enormous and impossible to capture it all in one day!
Whittingham hospital has got quite the history.
WhittinghamHospital.co.uk provides a lot of background information and some old photos.
Some background information:
Whittingham Hospital, whose grounds adjoin the village of Goosnargh, grew to be the largest mental hospital in the country, and pioneered the use of electroencephalograms (EEGs). During its time it had its own church, farms, railway, telephone exchange, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band, ballroom and butchers.
In 1866, the three Lancashire lunatic asylums at Prestwich, Rainhill and Lancaster were deemed to be full. The building of Whittingham Asylum began in 1869, originally to accommodate 1000 patients. It was built from brick made from clay dug on site from a pit which later became a fish pond.
The hospital officially opened on 1 April 1873. The large site included an Anglican church, a Catholic chapel, a recreation hall (also used as a ballroom) and several farms.
The Whittingham Hospital Railway was a two-mile (3 km) private branch to Grimsargh, built in 1887, to provide coal and other goods. It also provided free transport for staff and passengers. It eventually closed in on 30 June 1957.
In the early years there was a brewery on the site. 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.
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”.
The Mental Health Act of 1960 deemed large institutions like Whittingham to be out of favour. Allegations of cruelty to patients led to a public inquiry.
During the 1970s and 1980s, new drugs and therapies were introduced. Long-stay patients were returned to the community or dispersed to smaller units around Preston. The hospital eventually closed in 1995.
The site subsequently became known as “Guild Park”. In 1999, Guild Lodge was opened on the edge of Guild Park, supplying secure mental services, followed the next year by rehabilitation cottages close by.