cane hill | grand tour

Gingerly testing the floor, we emerged into this pink room. The Cane Hill interior designer really went for pink in a big way in this area of the hospital.

I have no idea of this roomís function. There were toilets and bathrooms close by, so it couldíve been a ward, but that seems unlikely.

I was particularly taken with this painting. Considering the number of Cane Hill patients who ended it all on the railway at the bottom of the site, it did seem a little tasteless to paint an oncoming steam train on the wall.

So, the tranquil scene of the sunset, the fluffy white clouds, the idling river, the single file trees and the one-dimensional sheep was topped off with The Flying Scotsman bearing down upon the observer at a furious rate of knots.

I preferred the pink in these rooms. Itís lovely.

"I was directed to your excellent site by my daughter, to whom, some years ago, I had told a hilarious tale of a group of schoolboys who, whilst doing community service, painted a mural of an oncoming train on the wall of a Mental Hospital."

"As I'm sure you'll appreciate, I was somewhat stunned when she forwarded the link to the page on the Urbex site showing the same mural - the first time I'd seen it in 32 years."

"To give you a little background - I attended Whitgift School in South Croydon, and we were all required to do 2 weeks local community service post "O" Level exams - so this would have been June or July 1975. I can't remember if we "volunteered" for Cane Hill, or were given a choice of projects, but anyway, we duly arrived at the Hospital and reported for duty. I'm pretty sure the idea for the mural came from the Staff, although the content was left up to us. The room was (I think) a "Day" room - somewhere for the patients to read, relax etc etc. The work took us the best part of the first week, and was done in emulsion and poster paint. Upon completion, our work was "opened" to the patients, the first of whom took one look and reacted in what one might deem a negative way. I also remember turning round at one point to find a patient drinking the contents of one of our paint-pots."

"The second week I spent cleaning out the Meat Fridge in the Kitchens, frankly not a task I remember with any pleasure."

"I honestly don't think we intended to paint something entirely inappropriate for a Mental Hospital - I have a friend who was also there - I've emailed the link to him, to see if he remembers any more detail..."

"Ironically, I live in Coulsdon now, and can see the Hospital from the bedroom window!"