Denbigh Asylum - North Wales...

 

 

When the Lunatic Act was passed in 1808 an asylum was to be built in every county, but North Wales still did not have one by 1840 because the populace was too poor to finance the building of such a large institution. As a result the most seriously ill pauper "lunatics" were sent instead to asylums in the English Midlands such as the one at Gloucester. But with this arrangement there was a serious problem, and the Superintendent of Gloucester Asylum had this to say about it in a letter to The Times:

"So few of the lower class of the Welsh, except in some towns or the precincts of inns, speak English, and this only for the purpose of commerce, or to qualify themselves for duties of menial servants, and not to an extent which would enable them to comprehend anything higher, whilst both the officers and servants of our English Asylums, and the English public too, and equally ignorant of the Welsh Language, that when the poor Welshman is sent to an English Asylum he is submitted to the most refined modern cruelties, being doomed to an imprisonment amongst strange people, and an association with his fellow men, whom he is prohibited from holding communications, harassed by wants which he cannot make known and appealed to by sounds which he cannot comprehend, he becomes irritable and irritated; and it is proverbial in our English Asylum that the Welshmen is the most turbulent patient wherever he happens to become an inmate"

In a report to the government in 1844 by the Metropolitan Commissioners in Lunacy the appalling conditions that Welsh inmates were being subjected to in the English asylums was brought to light.  Following an earlier meeting in 1842 the need for an asylum in North Wales had already been recognised and soon after Joseph Ablett, of Llanber Hall, donated some 20 acres of land. But even with the land sorted out there were still further problems - the law as laid down in the Lunatic Act would not permit adjacent counties to cooperate in the building of an asylum, rather it insisted that each county should still have it's own irrespective of such logical considerations as cost, convenience and practicality. Furthermore the other counties in North Wales did not wish to contribute to the cost of building the new asylum. In the end however the money was raised, some 4,600, which included a hefty donation from none other than Queen Victoria herself.

So building work commenced and was completed some four years later with the formal opening ceremony on the 14th of November, 1848. Constructed from locally made limestone bricks the building was praised for the grace and beauty of it's architecture. The magnificent clock tower was later built with money donated by the wife of the late Mr. Ablett, in memory of her husband who had donated the land upon which the asylum was built.

Originally constructed to house and treat 200 patients there were soon problems with over-crowding and the asylum came under increasing pressure to expand. As a result several extensions were built over the years, the most extensive of which was in 1899. At it's peak the hospital could treat 1500 patients. following Enoch Powell's radical ideas and the beginnings of "Care In The Community" the hospital slowly wound down and it finally closed it's doors in 1995. Neglect and the selfish attention of both vandals and thieves has seen dramatic decay set in even though the buildings have Grade II listing. The current owners have been forced to instigate a works program in order to halt the decay or be fined 4.8 million to pay for it to be completed. There have been several ideas muted regarding future use of the buildings including the inevitable luxury flats to a new prison but nothing so far has actually gone anywhere.

The clock tower contains some interesting old graffiti, much of it the usual lame sexual innuendo, but some in the form of names and dates goes as far back as the start of the 20th century. It appears that much was penned by patients though people who have worked at the asylum at some time have also got in on the act. Sadly it is very difficult and dangerous to get up there, requiring the explorer to literally inch his way along what remains of a floor over a three story drop. In November 2008 vandals seriously damaged the main building by setting a fire which completely gutted the ball room. A section of the main building was recently used by "Most Haunted Live" for one of their dubious TV specials. Over the years too Denbigh Asylum has become a regular and extremely popular site for urb-exers from all over the globe. Some particularly impressive photographs can be seen by clicking on the photo link to the left. The photographer in question is a really serious urb-exer and he travelled from the USA to document sites all over Europe including an enviable number of UK asylums.

 

Below you can view the best of the photographs which we took at this site.

 

If you wish to view any of these pictures in a much larger size then just click on the thumbnail of your choice and it will open a full size picture in a secondary window...

 

 

The first view of the front of the asylum as you start to drop down the hill out of Denbigh town centre...

We're not actually even sure if this is part of the asylum or not but it is shown as being attached on Google Earth...

Looking up from the site entrance towards the main building with it's beautiful tower...

We gained entry right by this ward.

The ward on the floor above...

Broken windows everywhere...

 

Fuse box...

Beautiful lime stone brickwork...

Occasionally an area has survived the inevitable damp...

Ventilation towers area a feature on big Victorian institutions...

Pealing paintwork...

 

 

Self portrait...

Off to the loo?

Gloomy and oppressive...

 

 

 

A side wing begging to be explored...

Take away the plaster and the brickwork is beautiful...

More air conditioning Victorian style...

Part of a wall mosaic in a reception area...

Revolving doors that will never revolve again?

Glass panels make a bold statement...

Gloomy!

Was this a padded cell?

Is this an asylum or a prison?

She doesn't look too bothered!

Fencing partitions dereliction off from demolition...

Rust - damp - dereliction...

 

 

 

Brighter colours + lots more light = much less oppressive...

 

 

The unattainable - for today at least!

Ablutions block...

Wide open spaces - but they weren't always so...

The surrogate child of a female patient?

Did Ginger ever get into office?

Patient's records...

A big ward partitioned off into smaller spaces...

Ablutions area off the end of the ward...

 

 

 

Forty five RPM or thirty three and a third?

 

 

Foreign language!

 

 

Care is not just for the mind where people live all their lives...

Trashed...

In tatters so no privacy now!

The tower seen from across the courtyard...

The NHS should take more care with sensitive documents...

Phone numbers for re-housing...

 

 

 

Tourniquet and clothes...

Wheel chair...

Demolition work - the ballroom is gone now...

En-route to the canteen...

...and today's special is...?

The canteen consumer unit...

 

 

 

Ornate coloured tiles in a corridor...

 

 

 

There are so many ways into the buildings now...

 

 

 

It was not possible to cross this area due to the demo team...

Unlike upstairs there is no information stored here now...

Bit of a blockage...

The plant area...

 

 

 

Out back...

Dead end...

Fire hose...

Outside the chapel...

Stripped bare...

Boarded up from within...

...and without...

Time for a break?

On the way to...

A temporary resting place...

Cold shelf...

It's pretty in pink but where are the books now?

Fungus...

An intact toilet? Very rare!

Plant room from outside...

Thanks for looking!