Cardiff City Asylum, Whitchurch - August 2017
I'd wanted to get back here since having a whip around the outside last December, so it was nice to get back and actually have somewhat of a proper look. We had no where near time to do a proper job, so will have to head back again some time. Large portions of the place seem to be locked up tight, but there's a few wards and the usual target spots (admin, hall etc) that are doable. I'm sure that in time more will open.
Having missed the boat in terms of seeing other asylums in none knackered states it was quite nice to see one so intact and also relatively unmodernised for the most part. Will have to get back soon I think, itching for more.
The population of Cardiff had expanded greatly, from under 20,000 in 1851 to over 40,000 less than 20 years later. By 1890 there were 476 Cardiff residents "boarded out" in the Glamorgan Asylum, and a further 500 to 600 being held in hospitals as far away as Chester and Carmarthen.
Whitchurch Hospital, with the 150 feet (46 m) water tower, built over the power house Costing £350,000 and ten years to build, the Cardiff City Asylum opened on 15 April 1908. The main hospital building covered 5 acres (2.0 ha), designed to accommodate 750 patients across 10 wards, 5 each for men and women. Like many Victorian institutes, it was designed as a self-contained institute, with its own 150 feet (46 m) water tower atop a power house containing two Belliss and Morcom steam engine powered electric generator sets, which were only removed from standby in the mid-1980s. The site also contained a farm, which provided both food supplies and therapeutic work for the patients.
The first medical superintendent was Dr Edwin Goodhall, whose then advanced approaches and therapies resulted in the hospital acquiring a reputation at the forefront of mental health care. Patients were also encouraged to take work and supervised tours outside the institute.
During World War I, the facility was called the Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital.
During World War II, part of the hospital was turned over to the military, becoming the largest emergency service hospital in South Wales, treating British, US Army and German personnel. 200 beds were retained for civilian use, which enabled early treatment of post traumatic stress disorder of military patients.
On 5 July 1948, the hospital was taken over by the Ministry of Health as the National Health Service came into existence. It continued to be used through to the mid-1980s, when care in the community began to reduce the number of resident patients.
With the current facilities considered unsuitable for the requirements of 21st century psychiatry, in the 2000s an ongoing programme to phase out and replace the old building took place. Some facilities were moved to newly built units elsewhere, such as the acute psychiatric wards at the Llanfair Unit, Llandough Hospital. Other wards have been replaced by community-based services such as Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Teams.
In November 2010 the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board decided that it was preferable to centralise all adult mental health care services at Llandough. Plans for a residential development of 150 houses and 180 flats on the Whitchurch site had first been raised in 1996 and provisionally agreed in 2001. Outline planning permission for the scheme was renewed in February 2012 for a further 4 years.