Whitecroft Hospital

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Whitecroft Hospital
Opened 1896
Closed 1992
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Echelon Plan (Compact Arrow)
Architecture Style B.S. Jacobs
Alternate Names
  • Isle of Wight County Asylum
  • Whitecroft Mental Hospital


Whitecroft Hospital Lunatic Asylum was built in 1896 by the Isle of Wight Council for paupers and lunatics. To avoid embarrassment families would send their relatives deemed lunatics to Whitecroft. The definition for lunatics were people deemed insane, foolish or eccentric. Patients were previously treated at Knowle Hospital on the mainland but the Isle of Wight became a separate county from Hampshire in 1890. The huge cost of patient transportation and fees for each patient prompted the council to build a smaller hospital providing healthcare for approximately 300 patients on the Isle of Wight. It was given the name Whitecroft Hospital.

The hospital was designed by Mr. B. Jacobs of East Yorkshire. It was built by Messrs Garlick & Horton and their army of three and a half million labourers. The building consisted of a system of blocks that were each of two storeys high. It also included a laundry, administration block, accommodation for a Superintendent and an unmarried Medical Officer, a dining hall, six cottages for attendants and a water tower. Almost central to the hospital stood a huge tower with a two-dial clock which was complete with a ten hundred weight bell. The combined water tower and clock styled by lombardic campanile with flemish detail to the clock tower. It is build of red brick with a leaded roof.

The water tower is rectangular, six storeys with one side slightly larger than the other. The top-storey holding the water tank which has stone dentil cornice extending 500mm from the face of the building, three lancets with round-headed arches which are linked by drip moulding and projecting stone band. Lower floors have random spaced metal casements with stone lintels. Hipped lead roof to water tower from which rises in the centre a square brick clock tower with stone cornice, brick pilasters, clock face and ogee shaped leaded roof with four projecting vents in the style of oval pedimented dormers the whole surmounted by an iron weatervane. This made it an impressive and striking landmark. A Chapel was built later. All of the buildings were fitted with electric lighting (a luxury at that time).

In 1903, the hospital became connected to a telephone rental line. The hospital was built at a time when horse drawn coaches were the means of transport. These coaches were sometimes cancelled possibly due to the coach being spotted outside a Newport pub! The people that were connected with Whitecroft are often unclear. Some of relevance to Whitecroft's history are mentioned. Mr J R Blake, a member of the Council, is known to have complained about seeing lunatics on the main road from Newport to Blackwater. Apparently these lunatics had seemingly escaped. There is also reference to administration and minute books staff such as Mr Ash of Newport, who supplied potatoes and Countess Pappenheim who used the garden roller. The Countess’s official records have not been found. Alderman Baker was mentioned as well as Dr. Shaw.

In 2002 a proposal for site development of the old hospital/asylum was issued to the Isle of Wight Council Planning Department. This development was for new houses and apartments to be constructed. Demolition of most of the buildings on the site did not start until March 2006. It was not until April 2008 that building work started at the development.