west park | secret

A group of urban explorers once spent a night in West Park in the balmy summer months. Their only mistake was to tell another group of urban explorers. Cue weird noises, footsteps, shouts, and feigned security busts; a real party atmosphere with no sleep. Beers and bravado, talk and exploration.

On the other hand, Neal, Martyn, Dave, Nat, Benn, Sue, Dawn and Steven spent one chilly night in the hospital searching. Not for padded cells, original plans, tunnels, dodgy floors or simply a way out. They were ghost hunters.

We search for the tangible, the forgotten. They were searching for the untangible, unproveable.

They were sober and serious, armed with EMF and ion measuring devices. Ben was in McBrade's cell and felt nervous. Martyn was in the second Main Hall, sat in a wheel chair and felt nervous. (Second Main Hall?) Dawn talked with the dead, proved by orbs in photos. Neal, Dave, Nat and Sue (safety in numbers) picked the padded cell and spoke to Mary Ann Whitters, unmarried mother, tricked into giving away her child. Footsteps were heard on the stairs. But evidence was lacking.

In the end, I think the urban explorers had by far the better night.

These pictures show the intact padded cell at West Park. Most padded cells were stripped of their padding in the 1960s when new drug treatments and therapies ensured that patients could be more effectively treated rather than let them fit and thrash in a padded room.

Therefore finding a padded cell is rare: Harperbury has several, Hellingly has the reminants of one, but to find a cell like this is extremely rare.

Shortly after these pictures were taken, someone vandalised the door attempting to remove the brass viewing plate. They succeeded in stealing the plate, but the glass was smashed in the process. A real pity.

And this was West Park's problem. The sleepy asylum, almost forgotten, the 'secret' of the Epsom Cluster, was becoming more and more popular. And popularity is not good. Things would have to change.