harperbury hospital | empty

Rather than hang about outside, we moved north and into the first villa, which was called 4, The Common.

Everything had been cleared inside: empty dayrooms, empty dormitories and empty wards. There was absolutely nothing left.

Coloured stickers, teddy bear transfers and cartoon pictures were the only remaining clues that children lived here.

Curtis designed the colony for 1700 patients. We had yet to see a soul. The place felt utterly devoid of life.

In one corner of a dirty, unkempt ward, we found this padded play area. Anywhere else, it would’ve been seen as an innocent children’s play area, whether they could boisterously bounce off the walls. However, it took on a more sinister guise in the children’s wing of a hospital for special needs and epileptics.

Perfect transfers of brightly coloured birds and cats clashed with the peeling wallpaper, cracked paint and dripping water.

The water penetration had got everywhere, the slow drips collecting in pools on the floor. The ceiling paper had fallen, now mushed into the carpet. Soon the plaster would start to fall; then the insulation; and finally the beams of the roof itself. That’s if it was given enough time.

The dereliction, emptiness and the cartoon animal transfers gave the place an eerie melancholy feel. We didn't loiter long.