High Royds Psychiatric Hospital, West Yorkshire, UK

The administration building of High Royds Asylum in Yorkshire, England was built with particular splendour and features intricate mosaic floor tiles.

High Royds Asylum, Menston, Yorkshire, UK
 

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History of High Royds Mental Hospital, Menston, England

High Royds Hospital is a former Psychiatric hospital near Menston in West Yorkshire, UK.

Built to designs by architect J. Vickers Edwards, the 300 acre site opened in October 1888 comprising a large complex of Gothic stone buildings. The administration building is now Grade II listed and features an intricate Italian mosaic floor showing the Yorkshire Rose and black daises.

The hospital, like most other Victorian Asylums, was designed to be as self-sufficient as possible. Patients living in the wards were expected to work towards their keep, where possible, either on the hospital’s farm, in the kitchens and laundry, or doing various handicrafts. 1

The hospital had a short railway line connecting it the Midland Railway Mainline. The railway was constructed originally to transport building materials, however remained in place to carry supplies such as flour and coal. The line closed in 1951. 2

High Royds Asylum - External view of the main admin building

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High Royds Asylum – External view of the main admin building

 

West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum

The hospital opened under the name West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The first patients were transferred from the severely overcrowded Wadsley Asylum in Sheffield. The asylum was designed to contain patients rather than treat them. There was no known cure for Insanity so patients would often spend many years, if not the remainder of their life locked within the high walls. 3

Menston Mental Hospital

By the 1920s changes to the way patients with psychiatric problems were treated resulted in major changes at the hospitals, including a name change to Menston Mental Hospital to represent the modernised approach being brought in. By this time doctors were attempting to treat mental illness, and the idea of a cure appealed to many patients. Barbaric shock therapies were introduced including Insulin Shock Therapy – a practice that was soon phased out due to the number of patients screaming in pain rather than being cured! Electro convulsive therapy was popular at High Royds, and is still in use in some establishments today. Another popular treatment was the lobotomy – it wasn’t uncommon for patients to wander around the wards aimlessly with a hole in each side of their head.

Introduction of the National Health Service

The introduction of the NHS saw major changes once again at High Royds. The wards were decorated (a welcome change from the previously dismal bare floors and black or dark brown pained wards), and were opened up. The emphasis was now placed on treatment instead of security, and the perimeter walls were shortened.

The bio-chemist Roy Hullin was offered a job at High Royds during the 1950s where he explored the benefits of the new mood stabilising drug Lithium. Hullin and his team developed many other drugs during his time there which were widely used and accepted by doctors worldwide as a treatment for various mental illnesses.

Decline and Closure

Major changes to the way patients with mental health problems were treated saw the hospital become outdated. An emphasis on community care saw development of new centres and as a result the large asylums were closed down in the 1990s – 2000s. Services were gradually transferred out and the hospital finally closed in June 2003.

Our Visit
High Royds has mainly been redeveloped into a housing estate, however the Grade II listed administration block was amongst the last to be worked on. As part of the redevelopment the building had become accessible so Spider Monkey and I went for a look around. I was surprised at the detail still in place – the mosaic tiled floors were stunning and it was nice to see so many original features remaining. The very few remaining wards were a nice bonus to see too.

 

High Royds Asylum - Arches through arches in the main corridors

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High Royds Asylum – Arches through arches in the main corridors

High Royds Asylum - Front office inside the main entrance

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High Royds Asylum – Front office inside the main entrance

High Royds Asylum - Reception office

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High Royds Asylum – Reception office

High Royds Asylum - Decaying corridor

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High Royds Asylum – Decaying corridor

High Royds Asylum - Arches and mosaic tiled floor

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High Royds Asylum – Arches and mosaic tiled floor

High Royds Asylum - Triple arches

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High Royds Asylum – Triple arches

High Royds Asylum - Triple arches

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High Royds Asylum – Triple arches

High Royds Asylum - Tiles floor between stained glass windows

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High Royds Asylum – Tiles floor between stained glass windows

High Royds Asylum - Stained glass windows and tiled floor

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High Royds Asylum – Stained glass windows and tiled floor

High Royds Asylum - Three windows

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High Royds Asylum – Three windows

High Royds Asylum - Grand entrance

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High Royds Asylum – Grand entrance

High Royds Asylum - Nice corridors

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High Royds Asylum – Nice corridors

High Royds Asylum - Inside the clock tower

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High Royds Asylum – Inside the clock tower

High Royds Asylum - Clock workings

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High Royds Asylum – Clock workings

High Royds Asylum - Tower time

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High Royds Asylum – Tower time

High Royds Asylum - One of the few square corridor entrances

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High Royds Asylum – One of the few square corridor entrances

High Royds Asylum - Decaying room

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High Royds Asylum – Decaying room

High Royds Asylum - Chequered ceiling

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High Royds Asylum – Chequered ceiling

High Royds Asylum - Main hall

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High Royds Asylum – Main hall

High Royds Asylum - Main hall with yellow ceiling

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High Royds Asylum – Main hall with yellow ceiling

High Royds Asylum - Doorway detail

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High Royds Asylum – Doorway detail

High Royds Asylum - Corridor with bars

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High Royds Asylum – Corridor with bars

High Royds Asylum - Security bars in corridor, added after the building closed

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High Royds Asylum – Security bars in corridor, added after the building closed

The last remaining ward

High Royds Asylum - One of the large wards

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High Royds Asylum – One of the large wards

High Royds Asylum - Another ward area

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High Royds Asylum – Another ward area

High Royds Asylum - Ward areas

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High Royds Asylum – Ward areas

High Royds Asylum - Decaying corridor

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High Royds Asylum – Decaying corridor

High Royds Asylum - Corridor

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High Royds Asylum – Corridor

High Royds Asylum - Area with carpet

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High Royds Asylum – Area with carpet

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