The Old Adventures

Cane Hill Hospital (above, taken in 1912) was built in 1883, designed as a mental asylum. It's intention was to house the patients from suburban areas in a countryside location to help their recovery. However, in those days, once you were put in a place like this, it was highly unlikely that you'd ever get out, which pretty much held true until it's almost complete closure in 1990. The only open part is the secure unit, a new building separate from the old hospital, designed to house the cream of nuts - the murderers and rapers and things. There is much history surrounding the hospital, but unfortunately, due to restrictions and incomplete records it is almost impossible to say exactly what happened during the century it was open. Only a small A4 box folder exists, holding all the records, which are vague at best. The blueprints, planning applications, and nearly everything else appear to have been "lost". And obviously, the medical records are still private and unobtainable.


The hospital is located in Coulsdon, near Croydon, in South London. It is just to the west of the A23 which runs from Croydon to Brighton. Although it is so close to London, this is one of the points where the land becomes less urban, Coulsdon being a small town, with downs and farmland to the south. This is where the hospital is, on top of a hill opposite the Farthing Downs. The image on the left is an OS map (1:50,000) showing the hospital at 292588TQ. The image on the left shows the area in a 1960s A to Z, and has a lot more detail of the actual buildings. OS maps don't show much more in a larger scale, because they are designed to show paths and outdoor features, not so much buildings and bunkers. The coloured dots on the map show:

  • Red - this is the area where the tower, boilers, and all the nice things are.
  • Blue - this is a location of the wartime bunker.
  • Green - this is the location of Downland TE... a nicely unmanned telephone exchange.

it all began with...

Being interested in all this urban exploration stuff, big old buildings are prime targets. It just so happens that these old mental hospitals are great fun:

  • huge boiler rooms
  • mortuaries
  • water towers
  • tunnels
  • fire service
  • engineering departments
  • old medical equipment (EST...)
  • backup generators
  • scary nutcase graffiti
  • and above all, tramps!!!!

Living in East Surrey means there is a huge amount of these hospitals about. I don't know why they built them all here, maybe it's because there are more nuts here... Anyway, there are two very close to me: Cane Hill and Netherne (shown below, from the air in 1925).

Well, the summer holidays were getting boring, so we had to make a choice. Now, they're both about as big as each other. They're both a fair distance from anywhere. They're both closed. I chose Cane Hill though:

  • They're is a 24/7 security guard at the main gate of Netherne.
  • Cane Hill has a dopey Securicor guard there 9 till 5 on weekdays.
  • Things go on at Netherne. It has new design lit up phone boxes scattered about inside the gates. Why? People are scary so I kept away.
  • There is some weird Christmas tree lit up on one of the wards at Netherne. A bit scary, and also means it still has power and thus is far more attractive to vagrants, scary nuts etc.
  • Netherne is built in such a way to make it bloody annoying to get near the main building in the middle, involving a lot of vandalism and similar things. Cane Hill has a few gates and fences, that's all.
  • Netherne is about 10 times more shit scary than Cane Hill. Don't get me wrong, I like the scary aspect of these things. But I almost shat my pants at Cane Hill. Netherne looks that scary from the outside.
  • Cane Hill is easier to access by far, just park at the back and it's a five minute walk, along a public footpath (ie. there is an excuse for being there).
  • My dad and mum used to work at Cane Hill, so they are useful sources of information, as are their friends who know me...
  • I got chased out of Cane Hill many years ago (well, two) by a nut wielding a spade. I did sixty on a bike. That was fun, so I thought I'd go there again.
  • Cane Hill is higher than Netherne... better for transmitters.
  • They want to knock down Cane Hill, and not Netherne.

The choice was easy. This was just a choice for a bit of summer fun at this time, I wasn't really interested in it much.

Onto next page!!!!!

First Expedition
Second Expedition
Third Expedition (20/12/1998)
Fourth Expedition (21/12/1998)
Fifth Expedition (04/1999)
Sixth Expedition (26/05/1999)
Seventh Expedition (26/05/1999)
Eigth Expedition
Ninth Expedition
Tenth Expedition

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© Andrew Tierney 1998-2002