Administration by Andrew Harrison 2003


"It was 14 February 1960 when I first arrived at Cane Hill. There were eight inches of snow on the top of our car that day. My dad had got the job as Chief Fire Officer, with a house on the site and Cane Hill became my back garden."

"In 1960 the land was still farmed with a dairy and the hospital was nearly self-sufficient for food and milk. I was 12 when I started working there, I used to buy the Evening Standard and take it round to each ward, selling copies to the patients."

"Our house backed onto the mortuary, and I used to be woken up by the generators switching on and off and remember feeling really scared. In 1977 I began my electricianís apprenticeship together with my brother and we both got jobs at the hospital. We provided an out-of-hours service. If we had a Jewish body in the mortuary a small light had to be switched on all the time. I can remember being called in the middle of the night because it had blown. It was a priority that it was changed, so I had to go in there in the middle of the night. I can remember making my brother come with me. Itís funny how it didnít bother him but there was just something about it that I didnít like."

"Many significant events in my life happened at Cane Hill. I met my wife here, we had our engagement party and a few years later my children were christened here. As the site was gradually wound down I was asked to stay on until the end. I can remember Christmas 1991, nearly all the services had left and my brother had tragically died. Putting the Christmas lights up at the front of the hospital was something we had done together every year. It wasnít the same. All of a sudden the place had a very strange feel about it. By the following year there were four of us left, most of the beds were emptied out and sent to eastern Europe and from then on it was our job to make the place secure."

"People said they used to hear sounds, thought the place was haunted, but if you think about the number of pipes running under the place, a labyrinth of tunnels, itís only natural that the building would make noise. The final day came in March 1992, it was a Friday lunchtime, when we hung our coats in our lockers, put the washing up on the side and locked up. That was it, Cane Hill closed. The site was taken over by a security management company; sadly it wasnít secure enough to keep the numerous arsonists and vandals out."

"A bit later I had a call from Ray Smith, manager of the SASS unit, offering me a job as a handy man. I was back. In July 2005 I was honoured to attend the Queens Garden Party, as recognition of my service to the NHS and celebrated 30 years service last November."

"I walk round the site from time to time and think back to how it used to be. Itís sad that itís ended up like this. There are a lot of memories and ghosts here for me, and as you can imagine I wonít ever forget this place, itís a part of me."

Cliff Meredith
March 2010

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