What better explore for me on this Bank Holiday weekend than the well reported Severalls Hospital in Colchester, Essex.
The former psychiatric hospital was built in 1910 to the design of architect Frank Whitmore and formerly opened its doors in May 1913.
Having arrived on the Exploring scene a little too late to enjoy the likes of Cane Hill, West Park and the likes, Severalls was my holy grail so to speak. I had already made two failed attempts to explore Severalls but was put off by the Palisade that has surrounded it pretty much since our good friends the BBC practically ripped up the chain link fence to bring the hospitals plight to their viewers attention.
The hosptial occupies a 300-acre site and at its height house some 2000 patients using the Echelon Plan layout of wards.This allowed staff to get around the hospital without the need to venture outside.Villas constructed around the main hospital building were used as accommodation between 1910 and 1935 with male and female patients kept apart.
As with other hospitals of the era psychiatrists seemed to be free to experiment on patients with new treatments at will, using techniques now considered unsuitable like ECT and frontal lobotomy. These treatments peaked in the 1950s.
Severalls ceased to function as a psychiatric hospital in the early 1990s following in the vein of similar closures at other psychiatric institutions. Although elderly patients suffering from the effects of serious stroke were still cared for in a small section that remained open until 20 March 1997 when a temporary building at the Colchester General Hospital was made available.
Since 1997 the remaining structures have changed little. Sadly in 2005 the main hall was subjected to an arson attack and in due to safety concerns the hall was demolished in 2007.
Visited in the company of Covert Urbex, A Little Feisty and urbanekul.
On a final note after 5 hours exploring this wonderful site our wet footprints were finally stumbled upon by security who politely asked us to leave. While we all know security is a hazard of the hobby Michael was very pleasant and talkative, Should you bump into him whilst exploring keep things easy and let him politely show you out.