Broadgate Hospital

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Broadgate Hospital
Construction Began 1868
Opened 1871
Closed 1989
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Corridor Plan
Architect(s) C.H. Howell
Location Walkington, Yorkshire
Alternate Names
  • East Riding of Yorkshire County Asylum
  • Walkington Asylum
  • Broadgate Mental Hospital
  • East Riding Mental Hospital


Work on the new asylum began in the Spring of 1869 and it received its first intake of patients in October 1871. The hospital complex covered 13,500 square yards of land and included two airing courts for the recreational use of male and female patients (fresh air was considered an important part of the therapy). In the days before electricity the buildings were lit by gas provided by the asylum's own gas works.

By the beginning of 1872 there were 195 patients at the East Riding Lunatic Asylum and, according to a report of the Medical Superintendant, Dr Mercer, attempts at escape had been "few and abortive". As a part of the asylum's regime attention was given to recreational activities and to this end he recorded that a picnic excursion to Westella had been organised for 20 women patients as well as weekly balls and occasional concerts at the asylum itself. To ensure that the patients benefited from the "wondrous moral hygiene of industry" those who were capable of working found employment in the asylum's gardens, and its joinery, shoemaking, tailoring, bricklaying and blacksmith workshops.

In 1946 the National Health Act was passed and Broadgate Mental Hospital (as it became known) ceased to be independent and was now a component part of the National Health Service. During the 1950s the tradition of caring for mentally ill people in large institutions came under intense criticism while in the 1960s the development of new drugs meant that it was now possible to treat patients in the community. During the 1970s large-scale mental institutions were steadily discredited and there was a move away from the isolation of the mentally ill in old Victorian asylums towards their integration in the community.

Locally the numbers of patients at Broadgate Hospital declined from about 450 in 1975 to about 250 in 1986. The East Yorkshire Health Authority faced a situation where it had two large institutions for the care of the mentally ill (Broadgate and De la Pole) both of which were operating at below-capacity and were becoming more and more expensive to run. Broadgate was one of the earlier UK asylums to close (in 1987), and services were then combined with those at De la Pole Hospital, in Hull. The buildings were demolished and housing built on the site.



Across the Westwood : The Life and Times of Broadgate Hospital Beverley, by Robert Curry