severalls, warley | comparisons

6. Main Hall

During the second world war, US servicemen would leave the train at Colchester Station and ask for Severalls. Equipped with the biggest ballroom for miles, the asylum was the center of many social activities for patients, staff and residents for miles around.

Ballrooms gave space for theatrical performances, plays and dances, a welcome relief to the day-to-day running of the asylum. Summer balls, Christmas and New Years dances were a particular favourites.

In the 1920s and 1930s with the advent of cinema, projection booths were often added to the back of the halls, allowing films to be shown. Some of these projectors survived the entire life of the asylum, the 1930s equipment (mercury arc rectifiers, carbon arc lamps) working until the last day of service.

Ballrooms also doubled up as refectories and they were often found next to the kitchens, so hot meals could be quickly served.

The main hall of our corridor asylum was half way through refurbishment before the asylum closed, so itís difficult to determine any original features. It originally had a balcony at the back of the hall, a rare feature not found in most asylums. The stage was removed during refurbishment.

The Severalls Ballroom was one of the best preserved, with original decoration and Holophane light fittings. It was destroyed by an arsonist in late 2005.