harperbury hospital | empty

The location was excellent: it was relatively isolated, rural (and therefore cheap), occupied a high point of land and the existing buildings could be pushed into use. As building at Shenley started, three of the former World War One hangers at the Harperbury site were converted into a temporary hospital, and the first patients, mostly “high grade feeble minded” men, were admitted in 1928. The hospital became known as The Hangers Certified Institution.

These temporary structures had obviously long gone by the time we visited the hospital. Broken wire-link fences allowed access to overgrown airing courts and playgrounds. Children’s toys lay broken and rusting in the deep grass.

This first building we encountered was of single storey construction of dark red brick with large sash windows and a grey slate roof. Its extreme length and short height gave it a squat appearance, but a wooden projecting spur (painted black) divided the building into two and helped to hide its length.

Wading through the undergrowth, we made our way gradually to an open door.