harperbury hospital | empty

After its completion, many would’ve expected the Middlesex Colony to settle down to a quiet life of relative anonymity, quietly looking after the patients in its charge. If it had done, then the only other notable event would’ve been renaming of the hospital on the 1st April 1950 to Harperbury Hospital.

However, rather than rest on its laurels, Harperbury was home to some eminent researchers and doctors. The Intensive Interaction teaching technique was developed in the school, a new paradigm for the teaching of children with learning disabilities. The hospital was also known as the pioneer of Vibroacoustic Therapy. I believe both continue in other special-needs schools today.

Although research was being carried out in various buildings around the site, the key focus was still on the care of those with learning disabilities and severe epileptics. Whilst the villas were designed for varying grades of patient, all the villas clustered around The Common shared the same architectural plan, being ‘E’ shaped buildings roughly aligned north, and scattered around the curved road system.

Again, 2 The Common was stripped bare, but also lacked the colourful transfers, mobiles and decoration of the former villa. Therefore we concluded that it was for older children. But, we were drawn to a door in the corner of the day room; a door with a small viewing hole, and on which someone had written “Empty”. Inside, we found a fully intact padded cell.

This was obviously one of the villas for severe epileptics.