Whittingham Hospital was a psychiatric hospital near Preston in Lancashire, England. Founded in 1869, the hospital became the largest of it’s kind in Britain and had a church, farms, a railway, a post office, reservoirs, brewery, orchestra, ballroom and butchers.
There were three existing lunatic asylums in Lancashire in 1866 at Prestwich, Rainhill and Lancaster however all were at capacity and it was decided to build a new one and so Whittingham was opened in 1873. By 1915, there were 2820 inmates at the site. By 1939, the patients in the hospital numbered 3533 with a staff of 548.
In 1967, student nurses complained about conditions at the hospital that led to a major inquiry which began the decline of the hospital. As a result of new drugs and therapies for people with mental illnesses, the number of patients declined and by 1995 it was closed. The site has remained abandoned and has been renamed Guild Park. There are plans to build houses on the site.
Below are the findings into the inquiry relating to the hospital conditions in 1967 –
- That patients had been left untreated
- That some patients had been given only bread and jam to eat or had been given food mixed up and served as “slops”
- That some patients had been locked outside, regardless of weather conditions, or in washrooms and cupboards.
- That in one ward, students had witnessed patients being dragged about by their hair.
- That on ward 3, a male ward, patients were given “wet towel treatment”, which involved twisting a cold, wet towel or bed sheet round a patient’s neck until the patient lost consciousness. Patients were also seen to have been punched and locked in a storeroom.
- On ward S2, another male ward, it was alleged that two male nurses had poured methylated spirits into the slippers of one patient and into the dressing gown pocket of another and set them alight.
- It was also reported that some wards were infested with vermin and others were too cold, too hot or too damp. In addition, it was found that there was a culture of petty theft on the wards and of serious fraud and embezzlement in some administrative offices.
- In 1968–69, £91,000 was issued from sources for the use of patients, yet only £42,000 was recorded as having been spent in the hospital shop, supposedly leaving the remaining £49,000 unaccounted for.
Location: Lancashire, England