Here are some pictures of Netherne Psychiatric Hospital, near Coulsdon in Surrey, as it looked around 1977.
The Main Entrance.
The Main Entrance with a direction sign. Press image to see the directions on the sign.
The Water Tower.
A view of the Wards.
Netherne Hospital opened its doors on the 1st April 1909.
Prior to 1840 patients from Surrey either got sent to Bethlem or a private asylum. In 1840 Wandsworth Asylum was built to accommodate Surrey patients; a second asylum was built at Brookwood, and a third at Cane Hill, but when London expanded to take over a large area of Surrey south of the River Thames, Cane Hill was used for London residents. Then as Brookwood filled up and was no longer large enough for Surrey it was decided to erect a new asylum at Netherne on a farming estate on a hill two miles from Coulsdon.
The direct path to the Asylum was quite steep and crossed high above a railway cutting, and so a zig zig road was constructed up the hill for vehicles.
Netherne was initially designed for 960 patients, but with plenty of room to grow. The main building itself was in the shape of a south facing arc so that all the wards could get the sun during the day. It was unlike previous Victorian custodial style asylums, and built of pale red brick and portland stone on two levels. There were villas separate from the main hospital to give some chronic patients – who worked on the land, and convalescent patients – ready to be discharged, a less institutional type of place to live. There was also a chapel, admin block, recreation hall, accommodation for nurses, and a cemetery. The whole estate was about 350 acres, and employed patients on a farm which included cows for milk, and a piggery with about 120 pigs to consume the food waste.
Thanks to the Surrey Mirror of 9th April 1909 for some of the details.
Yesterday, I drove my son over to Croydon. He had to be at work on Boxing Day and transport was a problem. Then being near my old haunts I went to what was once Netherne Mental Hospital and took this picture of what was once Dickens Ward. The view is little changed. The hospital buildings have been changed to flats, and new houses built all around. The new development is probably about ten years old now, and continues to grow with new houses and is called Nethern Village or Netherne on The Hill.
I have updated this post after adding an entry for 1st April to a new blog called Mental Health on this day in History