Cane Hill Hospital will be remembered perhaps as not the most famous of the county asylums but certainly one of the most interesting. From a urban exploration perspective it will be remembered as one of the most iconic sites the UK ever had. Abandoned in 1991 the buildings remained derelict for nearly 18 years. It wasn’t just the size of the buildings – at its peak it held over 3’500 patients – but probably the fact that so much stuff was left behind. Those who visited Cane Hill will talk about if fondly amongst other great sites such as Pyestock and Battersea. The era of the county asylum has now somewhat past and collections of photos like the ones below will hope to serve as documentation for future generations of an era now begone.
Cane Hill was a psychiatric hospital in Coulsdon in the London Borough of Croydon. Built to handle patients unable to attend the Springfield and Brookwood Asylums, both of which were filled to capacity, it opened in 1882 as the Third Surrey County Lunatic Asylum. Following a gradual winding down of operations, it closed all but its secure unit in late 1991
The main buildings on the site were designed by Charles Henry Howell and built on a hill-top overlooking Coulsdon and Farthing Downs. It opened in two phases, in 1882 and in 1888.
Demolition began in 2008 and finished two years later. The remaining administration building, chapel and water tower retained would sit derelict for a further six years before any work would begin on redeveloping the site. In those years unfortunately the iconic administration building as featured in the cartoon illustration of David Bowie’s 1971 US LP ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ suffered from a near terminal arson attack and it’s still unsure if the buildings will be retained.