West park hospital

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Westparkveteran

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Intrigued by reports and findings of west park hospital x some really good material available x also very nostalgic for me since I worked there when it was a thriving community during the late seventies snd early eighties x buried in my loft are quite a number of photos particularly some of the upgraded wards ,the chapel snd mortuary x just wondered if anyone would be interested in these as a research project or comparison with the state of dereliction as discovered by explorers x
 

Hannah456

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Intrigued by reports and findings of west park hospital x some really good material available x also very nostalgic for me since I worked there when it was a thriving community during the late seventies snd early eighties x buried in my loft are quite a number of photos particularly some of the upgraded wards ,the chapel snd mortuary x just wondered if anyone would be interested in these as a research project or comparison with the state of dereliction as discovered by explorers x
Hello, I'd really like to see some old photo's please. There are so few around of the chapel, I think it was knocked down in the eighties? I live on the site now and love seeing and reading the history x
 

Westparkveteran

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Hi Hannah 456
Good to hear from someone who shares my interest in the history of the West Park Hospital site x I worked as an estates surveyor at West Park for 11 years and became embroiled in a number of projects there x those were some of the golden days of my life and I’m a mine of information about the site generally x I will make it a priority to seek out the photos and report back as soon as I can x the info I have about the chapel is a full photographic survey of the building inside and out x it was a magnificent structure and a place of such tranquility shared by patients and staff alike x I lament it’s passing x best wishes x westparkveteran
 

Hannah456

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Thank you so much, it will be wonderful to see some pictures. I'm always looking for clues around the buildings and the photos I find online. It's still such a fantastic site, I feel I'll never tire of it. There's so much history here! You can still see the footprint of where the chapel was (now a car park) Do you know why it was knocked down?
You must have seen so much, I'm pleased you have fond memories. Thank you for taking the time to reply :)
 

Westparkveteran

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The chapel had a number of structural problems consequent upon its location on raised ground and an underlying strata of shrinkable clay x much of the clay soil around the site was imported from the excavations of the London Underground network x as such a number of the ward blocks were built above the surrounding ground level with deep basements and infilled with clay to reduce the overall site gradient x Jenner Macefield and Kipling wards are good examples of this x when the issue of the Church demolition arose in the surveying team there was considerable disquiet as to who be appointed to manage the job x initially I was chosen but I conscientiously objected and the job was given to another member of the team x there was some debate about whether the land was consecrated or dedicated which was never resolved x it’s interesting to note that consecrated land cannot be built upon for a number of years which probably settles the argument snd explains how it became and remained a car park x
 

Hannah456

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The chapel had a number of structural problems consequent upon its location on raised ground and an underlying strata of shrinkable clay x much of the clay soil around the site was imported from the excavations of the London Underground network x as such a number of the ward blocks were built above the surrounding ground level with deep basements and infilled with clay to reduce the overall site gradient x Jenner Macefield and Kipling wards are good examples of this x when the issue of the Church demolition arose in the surveying team there was considerable disquiet as to who be appointed to manage the job x initially I was chosen but I conscientiously objected and the job was given to another member of the team x there was some debate about whether the land was consecrated or dedicated which was never resolved x it’s interesting to note that consecrated land cannot be built upon for a number of years which probably settles the argument snd explains how it became and remained a car park x
Oh wow Westparkveteran, I feel that I've struck gold finding you! I've trawled the internet for hours looking for the answer to that question and you have answered it so thoroughly, I can't thank you enough. There is literally no information or photographs about the chapel out there. I'm not at all surprised you decided against leading the demolition of the chapel, it must have been very sad for you and many residents and staff alike when it came down. Thank you for clarifying this, I knew there must have been a very valid reason.

I don't know how familiar you are with what still stands, Kipling block remains converted to apartments with neighbouring Masefied and Jenner sadly demolished. Most of the larger blocks on both sides remain converted to apartments. What I've read often refers to "The male side" and "The female side" I'm familiar which side is which, can you tell me if this rule remained during your time? Or were the wards mixed? I've read that wards were mixed during WW11 to accommodate extra patients from Horton Hospital and remained mixed afterwards but it's only what I have read. I hope you don't mind me asking so many questions - I'm excited to meet someone with masses of first hand knowledge and experience of the site. I've always been fascinated with the building structures and what each one was used for over the years. I couldn't have asked for a better teacher than you - Estates Surveyor - fantastic! I'm so looking forward to seeing your photo's and learning more. With many thanks, Hannahx
 

Westparkveteran

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It’s just so lovely for me to have someone to share all my knowledge and memories of west park with x there is, as you say, quite scant info about the history of the site , almost as if it was an embarrassment to society to have such skeletons lurking in the cupboard x however, you are absolutely right about the division between male snd female side which was strictly enforced both in terms of building design and function x during my watch at west park there was much less clearly defined segregation between men and women insofar as they had a tendency to wander the corridors unchallenged x in the ward setting however there was much clearer definition x for example when I modernised Garth snd Goldsmith ward we constructed a bridging link (which housed a very posh lift) between these two wards and Henry and Huxley ward adjacent to it x the Gs were male wards and the Hs female x one of the overiding issues at that time was the age of the patients which averaged 75 x there was I recall some mixing in certain wards but strictly policed dormitory arrangements x It was often stated that it was difficult to tell staff and patients apart in the corridors x many a true word is spoken in jest ! x Drummond ward was the only locked ward on site at that time x it was predominantly male patients x on the few occasions I did visit you were advised to keep your back against a wall at all times x although most of the patients were disturbed I never felt uncomfortable in their presence x it was fairly daunting within the ward itself with most moveable things screwed to the floor x
When redevelopment of the site was being considered there was a keen emphasis to retain many of the original ward blocks at the frontage of the site and I believe a conservation area was set up for this purpose x so as you approach the site via Richmond crescent? most of the ward blocks on the right hand side are within the conservation area x I have much more to tell you x thank you so much for the opportunity to share such wonderful memories x westparkveteran x
 

Hannah456

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Ahh westparkveteran, thank you again for your reply. You're right, Richmond Crescent is the name of the road that now runs along the far south side, just in front of where the original chapel was, past what is now named Ramsay House (this block remains in use by the NHS as a CAMHS service, it looks like it operates Mon - Fri for outpatients as the car park is usually deserted in the evenings and weekends, I think it's also used as a training centre for staff) Richmond Crescent runs all along to the South West side. Sadly Greenbank has gone and been replaced with larger new detached homes (they're nice though) Happily the huge mature trees were saved and it's lovely to walk along the south end - I imagine the site must look quite similar as it once did, from the outsides anyway as all the outer buildings remain with the beautiful tress. Also the lovely green shelters were saved, they're scattered around the south side.

Its interesting that Drummond was once a locked ward, that building remains now renamed Drummond Court, it looks like some changes were made at the back, I think the part that came out in the middle has gone, it's now more L shaped. I think originally that building contained Boswell, Cavendish, Drummond and Mansion wards? - was Drummond the only locked ward within that building? Or was the entire block locked?

When they converted the larger blocks to apartments, it seems to be that they often altered the shape at the back of the blocks. On the old maps the two big blocks either side of the Admin block along the south side had longer parts either end and two more in the middle - it seems that the two middle ones were taken down and a new wider one was built in the middle to make an E shape (hope that makes sense) you can also see the brickwork patched up in-between - were these bathrooms? like smaller extensions attached from the main block in-between the longer parts. These patched up bits baffle me?! They were quite narrow and looks like they extended up to the first floor? Please can you tell me what they were used for? I always assumed bathrooms but have never found this information.

Thank you again for sharing your memories, I really appreciate you taking the time. Hannahx
 

Westparkveteran

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Hi Hannah
So good to hear from you x sorry reply has been delayed x just reflecting on your tour along Richmond Crescent x interestingly Ramsay Ward was occupied by the Finance department of the Mid Surrey Health Authority at ground floor level and the Estates department at first floor level which is where my office was situated x Roseberry Ward which adjoins Ramsay was occupied by HR at first floor level at Occupational Therapy at ground floor level x originally these wards were for acute admissions , the fore runner of the Acute Resource Centre more affectionately known as The ARC in modern times x Roseberry Ward had the finest example of a padded or strip cell I have ever seen beautifully constructed with grey leather on horsehair padding x the floor was raised upwards to the centre and supported by enormous springs x the walls were similarly constructed to cushion the body weight of patients to prevent physical damage while in a rage x the inner door was fitted with spring bolts to enable quick closure x the outer door could be closed fir sound attenuation purposes x fascinating stuff x I did have the misfortune to be shut inside one such cell whilst taking measurements x it was eerily quiet and in fact quite peaceful x mercifully I was released by a fellow surveyor working with me that day x phew !!
You mentioned Greebank Ward x from memory this was the drug and alcohol unit in those days x it also housed the Lithium outpatients Clinic x look up the history of Lithium Therapy for an intriguing insight int how a base element has helped so many people with Bi Polar Affective Disorder without scientists ever really knowing how or why x I digress x
With regard to Drummond Ward I’m sure it was the only locked Ward although Santhams near the site entrance was locked at one time as I recall x the two story projections on the north side of the ward blocks were in fact toilet snd washing facilities x bathrooms were usually rooms off the day room area and were fitted with Parker baths some of which had a juccizi function x the toilet area were very Spartan x in fact during the many Ward modernisations undertaken on my watch we Jazzed up the wards by painting the doors in primary colours x specifically toilet doors were red which gave patients the initiative that if it was urgent look for the red door x it proved to be highly successful even though the psychiatrists thought I had taken leave of my senses!!! Not the best place to be with comments like that flying around !!! There is so much more to tell x if you are interested to hear about day to day life at west park Hannah I can always respond by e Mail at the following e Mail address ..., christophw@sky.com
once again so pleased to share my memories x all good wishes x westparkveteran
 

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