Hartwood Hospital – An Abandoned Psychiatric Asylum

Hartwood Hospital

Guest Post about Hartwood Hospital in Lanarkshire, Scotland by SirHiss

I wasn’t aware that the exhilarating and mysterious pursuit that is ‘urbex’ even existed until the turn of this year. My closest friend suggested that I accompany her to an abandoned psychiatric asylum called Hartwood Hospital in the Lanarkshire area of Scotland to explore and take photographs. I duly accepted her offer and now I am smitten by the whole urbex scene.

Hartwood Hospital is an abandoned 19th century psychiatric hospital in the village of Hartwood, North Lanarkshire in Scotland. Originally known as Lanark District Asylum, Hartwood Hospital was opened to patients in 1895 and was completely self sustaining; it had its own farm, gardens, cemetery, railway line, staff accommodation, power plant and reservoir.

Dr Archibald Campbell Clark, the hospital’s original medical superintendent, aimed to “cure where possible and give the best possible care when a cure cannot be found.” So dedicated to his work, his body was interred in the hospital cemetery in 1901. More controversial therapies carried out included seclusion, electroconvulsive therapy, and it was the first place in Scotland to perform the lobotomy; a surgical procedure which left patients in a lifeless, vegetative state. By the 1950’s, Hartwood was the largest asylum in Europe and one of the most overcrowded in the UK, with over 2,500 patients. Hartwood Hospital began closure in 1995 as a result of the Community Care Act 1990, which resulted in the closure of many Victorian institutions as a more community-focused treatment for mental health care was introduced.

On my first visit to Hartwood I was struck by the imposing nature of the clock towers rising above the remainder of the building.

The Clock Towers of Hartwood Hospital

The approach to Hartwood Hospital.

Nearing the building there are reminders dotted about of the nature of the business of this once grand structure.

Item of clothing on the ground

An item of clothing on the ground on the approach to Hartwood Hospital.

As much as these items were fascinating we knew the most prized photographs would have to come from inside the building…..but we would first have to get past the 10 foot high metal fence. This would be a challenge but one we were not to be outdone by! So after a substantial period of time negotiating the fence, getting cut, soaked and covered in mud we were in the grounds and ready to explore! I think I’ll let the photos do the talking from here.

Disclaimer: Although it is a great place to explore and photograph, Hartwood Hospital is in quite a state of dereliction. There was a fire, set deliberately, a few years ago and this has added to the danger of walking about an already crumbling building.

Location: Hartwood, Scotland

Abandoned: 1995

A corridor inside Hartwood Hospital

Looking along a corridor.

A clock tower in Hartwood Hospital

One of the clock towers as seen from inside.

A bed in a psychiatric hospital

A bed perhaps?

Doorway in Hartwood Hospital

Quite a creepy shot but the best photos had to be from the morgue.

Inside the morgue at Hartwood Hospital

The door has come off in the morgue.

Storage facility in the morgue

This was used to store bodies in the morgue.

A storage facility for bodies in a morgue

Another view of the storage facilities in the morgue.

A wheelchair lies abandoned outside Hartwood Hospital

A wheelchair left abandoned outside the hospital.

10 thoughts on “Hartwood Hospital – An Abandoned Psychiatric Asylum”

  1. Hello, I was at hartwood today and I was just wondering how exactly you got in and into the building as well as everything I saw on the building seemed to be sealed up all the bottom windows etc. Could you tell me how you guys went in ?

    1. the easiest way in is from the railway station.go over the railway bridge.and turn right.lots of tracks about.but the FOUR CLOCKS can easily be seen for miles…oh the cemetery is at the home farm road entrance…

  2. I’m from Colchester and we had a similar establishment there called Severalls Hospital. It was another of these vast, Victorian-style asylums (although built in 1913) and I spent a year working there in linen services in the 1980s. It finally closed in 1997 and was allowed to go to rack and ruin, spawning lots of photographs similar to yours of Hartwood (YouTube has numerous videos for anyone interested). Now all that’s left is the water tower, which has a preservation order on so can’t be knocked down. The rest is under a giant residential development called Maplehurst Road which I don’t reckon will ever have anything like the history of Severalls.

  3. I worked there when I was a student psychiatrist nurse and was appalled at the treatment of the patients. I am glad that it has gone.

    1. hi janis, im doing a bit of research of this hospital and would love to hear from you, my research is about how mental health patients where treated by then and how things have changed, if you coudl email me that would be great to ask you some questions on it to add in


      [email protected]

  4. I have a great Uncle buried in the cemetery there. His name was Daniel McMullan, It must of been a visitation because there was a group working to bring dignity to the ransacked burial ground and I was just in time to donate the amount to go over their target in a go-fund-me. It is a mysterious place this world

  5. My great grandmother was a patient there – on her death certificate it states she had delerious mania for 17 days. She received electric shock treatment and from this she died of a cardiac arrest. She was 35 years old. This was in 1924. Very grim.

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