Aston Hall Mental Hospital near Derby...
In September 2011 we decided to explore one of the few remaining relatively modern asylums in England that has yet to be demolished. Aston Hall Mental Hospital is located on the edge of the pretty village of Aston-On-Trent just outside Derby and is in fact one of two mental hospitals that served the city, the other being the Derby Borough Lunatic Asylum, a large, rather aged Victorian red brick classical asylum. The hospital is built in a villa layout on a site of some 3.2 acres though the grounds looked considerably larger than that when we got there. Originally the land which had been part of the Aston Hall estate was bought in 1924 and the hospital was opened in the 1930s. Each of the villas housed up to 50 patients but as the years passed the number gradually declined, especially with the advent of "Care In The Community". By the nineties the writing was on the wall for Aston Hall. The last 58 long term, chronic patients were farmed out to other hospitals in the surrounding area and the doors of "the village" as it was known locally, were finally closed in 2004. It is unclear as to what is on the cards for the site though it seems likely that they will demolish the buildings, none of which are listed, to make way for an extension of the housing estate which currently butts up almost to the front wall of the services block.
The villa layout of the hospital means it is unusually spacious and airy, and the south facing bedrooms on the wards - which appeared to be predominantly singles - are bathed in the most glorious light. But even the rooms on the north sides of the villas benefit from loads of natural light. At the back of the site there is a large area of open playing fields together with a small building which we took to be a gym or sports hall of some kind. At the front end of the site a large kitchen block made the food for the hospital but an uber abundance of Aston Hall catering tray lids litter the grounds hinting at central prep of micro wave "TV Dinners", with micro-wave re-heating in each of the villas; the catering department may also have provided food for other hospitals and medical facilities in the area, though that is only our as yet unproven guesswork!
Having seen other urban explorer's photographs taken over the years since the closure we thought the place would be a great explore as it has not been abandoned all that long. But sadly we were in for a serious disappointment when we arrived and saw just how much damage has been inflicted by random occupants of the moron-o-sphere. Rampant chavvery, at times reportedly committed by children as young as nine or ten, together with blatant and hard faced theft of metal and fittings, has left the former hospital in a very sorry state. In the ward villas there are very few studded partition walls that have not been kicked through, and of course all the window glass and pot sanitary fittings have long since been reduced to little more than crunching under foot or a hazard to the hands. There has also clearly been a fire very, very recently in the theatre area of the central leisure block, and the structural integrity of one of the most interesting areas of the hospital has been seriously compromised as a result. It's sad that this building has suffered so badly because it contains a very large theatre with a stage, and a pretty polygonal hydro-therapy swimming pool, the only one of it's kind anywhere in Derbyshire. An imaginative developer could very easily have converted this building into a superb leisure facility for the housing estate but of course it is probably beyond economic repair now, especially as much of the roof has collapsed in already. It is my suspicion that the fire was set by school age youths because we found a maths work book with childish hand writing partially burnt close to the seat of the fire.
We rocked up on site and wandered through the woods on the western edge looking for a discrete route in - to be frank though we needn't have bothered. In the distance up by the services block we could see two blokes in high viz and hard hats and naturally we took them for demo workers or possibly security. It was immediately clear that they had seen us so we made no attempt to hide, preferring the direct, amiable approach. But something seemed a little odd about their mannerisms and conversation, especially that of the younger of the two who seemed very nervous, but only a little later did the penny drop - they were metal pykeys using the "in your face" approach to have it away with radiators, two of which had been stashed against the wall just short of the closest point of access for a vehicle. I only wish I had twigged a bit sooner so that I could have phoned the dibble!
Anyways, that's enough of the history of Aston Hall Mental Hospital and of our musings after visiting the site so I'll post the photos now. I only hope you'll find something here worth the effort of looking! We both tried very hard to exclude the damage and wanton vandalism in as many of our shots as possible but it was an uphill struggle, so the photos we took perhaps show the hospital in a better light than it actually appears to the visitor on the ground.
And it's only going to get worse before it is finally demolished.
Below is a selection of the photographs we took in and around the hospital.
If you wish to view any in a much larger size then click the picture of your choice...