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North Wales Hospital, Denbigh

My second visit to Denbigh after a previous visit some 9 months ago. Not much more to report other than a continual decline of the buildings. If something isn’t done soon then the bulidings really will start to fall in on themselves.  It needs saving, and fast.

The North Wales Lunatic Asylum was the first psychiatric institution built in Wales; construction began in 1844 and completed in 1848 in the town of Denbigh. It was original called ‘The North Wales Counties of Caernarvonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Merionethshire and Anglesey Asylum ‘

The U-shaped Tudorbethain style hospital was built due to the spreading word of mistreatment of Welsh people in English asylums; The North Wales Hospital would be a haven for welsh speaking residents to seek treatment without prejudice or a language barrier.

Renovations and extensions were made at the hospital from 1867 until 1956, when the hospital reached its maximum capacity at 1,500 patients living inside her walls and 1,000 staff at hand. Physical treatments such as Cardiazol, malarial treatment, insulin shock treatment, and sulphur based drugs were used and developed in the 1920s and 1930s, and 1941-1942 saw the advent of electro convulsive therapy (ECT) and pre-frontal leucotomy (lobotomy) treatments.

In 1960, Enoch Powell visited the North Wales Hospital, and later announced the “Hospital Plan” for England and Wales, which proposed that psychiatric care facilities be attached to general hospitals and favored community care over institutional settings. This was the beginning of the end for the North Wales Hospital and others like it; in 1987 a ten year strategy to close the hospital was formed. The North Wales Hospital was closed in sections from 1991 to 2002; most notable was the closure of the main hospital building in 1995.

The future of the grade II* listed buildings remain uncertain. UK Living presented a ‘Most Haunted Live’ show during Halloween 2008 which drew local criticism at the poor understanding of mental health issues and general slurs on the local town and area.

On the 22nd November 2008 the main hall was subject to an arson attack, resulting in the complete demolition of the hall. This halted all further development plans on the site which has now stood derelict for a further 2 years.

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