Category Archives: Hospitals, Asylums and Workhouses

Keeping the Asylum safe: Fire Brigades

Staffordshire's Asylums

Members of the Coventry volunteer fire brigade, 1862 (wellcome collection CC BY)

This month, we are exploring the early days of Cheddleton
asylum further, and focusing on some elements of the advanced technology of the
times which the hospital exploited, and of which they were innovators.

As asylums grew larger and became more complex
institutions, with more patients and wards, keeping them safe became ever more
complex. In large buildings, often connected by long corridors, one fear
remained ever present – the risk of fire.

This increasing risk became an issue after several fires
occurred in the 1880s and 90s. Questions were asked in the House of Commons in
1883 about withholding licenses from asylums unless they put precautions in
place, following a fire at the private asylum at Southall Park, London. The only
source of water for the fire brigade was found to be a shallow pond a quarter

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Spotlight on Stafford: Memories of a Volunteer at St. George’s Hospital

Staffordshire's Asylums

By Vicky Wood

St. George’s Hospital c.1975 (staffspasttrack.org.uk)

In the early 1980s, I became a volunteer at St. Georges Hospital, which had started life as the County Asylum. So, every Wednesday morning, Hilda and I would set off round the hospital with our laden trolley, which was loaded with sweets and chocolates, as well as other small items, to see what the morning would bring. The patient population was fairly static so we soon got to know our regular customers. 

There were many more women patients than men in a population of almost 1,000. This was, according to staff, because in the past, women suffering from post-natal depression were often placed in the hospital and in some cases, never left. A number of patients were attached to objects which reminded them of their children, and one I remember in particular lived in a world of fantasy where they had never…

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Daily Routine of a Patient, Part One — Staffordshire’s Asylums

The experience of patients in an asylum differed from individual to individual. Daily routine, however, was essential to keep the asylum running and for patients to know what was expected of them. Different groups of patients had different routines, usually determined by their mental and physical condition and their age and sex. By the late […]

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part One — Staffordshire’s Asylums

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part Two — Staffordshire’s Asylums

The day of a late Victorian asylum patient continued as a working day until lunchtime, which was the main interruption for most patients, and was served around 12-1 o’clock. It was the main meal of the day, and usually consisted of bread, potatoes, meat and vegetables. A fairly bland diet was considered suitable for patients, […]

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part Two — Staffordshire’s Asylums