Urbex walkthrough of St. Andrews Asylum

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 16.08.2009

Today was an awesome day, the Talk Urbex crew shot the entire abandoned asylum and investigated every one of its secrets in a 20 hour straight urbex mission and full write up. We even made it up into the water tower which was not easy we can assure you. In preparation for this, I contacted a multiple author and Professor of History to discuss insights into the asylum. I have several excerpts out of his publication that shows facts behind the history of this asylum, some were indeed worrying and I’ll refer to them throughout the article.

Ready?

The alarm clock sounded off its regular electronic ‘pip, pip, pip’ – thank god for sleep mode, it was 4:05am and a Talk Urbex crew member was coming over at 4:30am for an early morning urbex mission. The alarm had sounded already at 4:00am, I must have sleepily smacked it shut. Not good when there was a mission about to happen.

At 5:10am, we were at the location – we left this early to use the laws of probability on our side so that guards would not be guarding effectively and noises would go undiscovered. By 5:20am, we were standing in front of the derelict abandoned asylum. Our plan worked out well, no one was on site – we engaged insertion mode, a few minutes past then we were standing inside the dark, abandoned asylum. Creepy, the sun had not done a good job of rising, inside was too dark for any type of photography so we embarked on a mission, to walk the entire asylum – picking the frames that would make great photos…

St. Andrews Asylum - Welcome

St. Andrews Asylum – Welcome

The history of the insane asylum…

Plans for the annexe, a separate auxiliary asylum several hundred yards to the north of the main buildings on the site of cricket field, were announced in 1876. The buildings were to be of ‘somewhat plain, simple and comparatively cheap construction’, later described as ‘a sort of go-between the Asylum and the Workhouse’.

Designed by the architects Cornish and Gaymer, they were modelled on Metropolitan Asylums Board institutions at Leavesden and Caterham. They comprised a two-storey ‘H’ shape with large and rather barn-like male and female wards linked, or rather separated, by an administrative cross-section, behind which lay a single storey complex of kitchens and staff rooms.

Costing £33,920, they accommodated 250 patients, two and a half times the original capacity. ‘Chronic lunatics, imbeciles and idiots’ were placed under the care of Hills’ assistant, who became resident medical officer, a head female attendant and a relatively modest staff of attendants and nurses*

We set off around the south block – this contains wards F and G, these wards were  originally designed for “around 70 epileptic patients and chronic lunatics”.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Asylum Construction – No Expense Spared

We went on to level 2, through the boardroom and round the maze of dark twisting corridors. The asylum is complex, very easy to misinterpret where you are.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Solitary Confinement or Electro-shock Rooms?

This south side of the hospital (which was female segregation) seems long abandoned, cell like rooms remain untouched, in what looks to be original décor.

We went back down the stairs and linked into the large trunk hallway, the backbone of the asylum which runs its entire length linking wards A to G. This, as you may be aware was where the horror happened last time!

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

“Part conversion, the roots remain the same”

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Large Expanse – What Madness Happened in Here?

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Behind the doors lay rotten darkness

From here our mission took us through the lower floor of wards A – C which had been largely converted into administration blocks, we found the reception which was not as grand as we had hoped (and to dark to take a photo). We did however find entrance into both basement locations, they were large and filled with complex pipework. Artefacts dating years back lay strewn all over the floor. The smell down there was horrific!

We continued on, checking every dark room – there was no sign of life at all, just us in the asylum maze.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Debris in the asylum hallway

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Long since forgotten

We ended up in the North block, “a ground floor ward A for acute and recent patients, with the ‘excited and troublesome’ accommodated on the first floor ward B*”. It was now about 9:15am, daylight was as good as it was going to get so we set about starting the shoot. 90% of the asylum is heavily boarded, not much sunlight gets in so things can be a bit tricky. We started shooting in ward A and B, debris was left all around, chairs, broken plaster, medical bits etc.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Abandoned and derelict

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Asylum long hallways, what’s waiting behind the door?

From Ward B, we traversed the corridors to go downstairs – we needed to find our bearings.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Asylum loft space

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

“Asylum, I’m Free” The ladder leads to the roof

We wanted to shoot the water tower however access seemed impossible. That was until we got access to the loft space! The loft space was a large maze like structure, segmented by fire curtains. Large steel pipework ran everywhere, gas, electricity – we  were careful up here! We found access to a ladder which took us to the roof top, from here we could see the tower. Daz went to check it out, there was no way in – our hearts sank.

That was until…

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Daz on the asylum water tower

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

View from the asylum water tower

The tower was still on our minds so we positioned ourselves approximately where we thought it could be. A stunning realisation hit us and we found a way up. The Talk Urbex crew of two had found access to an additional loft space, segregated from the previous space we found – from here, Daz found access into the water tower – jackpot!

The water tower dated back to 1901, it consists of a obscenely massive steel container pitched high in the tower at the front of the asylum, each time the steel container was knocked, it sounded like a bomb going off. We noticed all sorts of old artefacts under the container. Daz climbed up to look inside, it was of course empty. Lots of names were written on the water container, these look like service records – we took the liberty of adding our name, for historic purposes.

Mission accomplished, we had uncovered one of the asylums hidden treasures!

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Access rooms in the asylum

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

What was this room for?

Downstairs again now, walking back through the asylum – checking out every differing room including the audiometry workshop and infirmary. The trunk hall way is pretty scary – you can see all the way down it, when you have torches, someone down the other end can see you well before you could possibly see then, touch unnerving although nothing happened like in the last horror experience!

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Asylum Wash Room

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Asylum toilet complex

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Decaying and rotting asylum

It looks like several areas of the asylum have been locked down due to asbestos, we could not walk out leaving things covered so we went in and shot these areas, they are the ones that show the asylums true age, they have stood still in time. In here, I recalled some of the notes I had previously read regarding deaths and suicides in this very asylum. For what seemed like a happy place, the sheer volume of death or serious harm was staggering.

Suicidal patients could be wholly unpredictable, as when E. P_ attacked  ’helpless paralytic’ patient C_, thinking that ‘he ran needles in his eyes and had destroyed the sight of several women whom he knew’

Long-sleeved dress was used to prevent ‘serious self-injury’ and padded and seclusion rooms were improved. 65 Thus Stephen B_, who was biting himself and had tried to tear his mouth, was ‘confined in a long-sleeved dress by order of Dr Hills’

William G_ was a particularly tragic figure. A 34-year old carpenter, he was ‘a large powerful man’ but disappointed in love and in a state of ‘acute melancholia’. His first   eighteen months in the asylum were highlighted by escapes, recapture and conflicts with attendants but also attempted suicide by throwing himself onto a fire, down stone staircases and hanging himself. Doctors admitted that ‘he has suffered…at the hands of those who wish for his welfare, in the shape of physic, (cold) baths, black-eyes, broken ribs and a fractured lower jaw’

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

“We welcome you to the segregation block”

Wandering around, I could not help but think where did the deaths happen, where was it where people committed suicide? By this time, we had made our way back to wards F and G, these were the most abandoned wards and cell based structure of the rooms confirmed its identity. In this area, cells replaced former rooms, small cells – you could almost smell the stench of fear and madness.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Claret on the asylum floor

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Remove for access, or to escape

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Suicide asylum bath

Back on the ground floor again and we entered another asbestos lock down, this part was large wash room/toilet complex. Lots of differing equipment was used in here, a myriad of strange shaped washing basins and walk in/lay in baths. My mind was running riot, these fixtures were possibly the original – these would have seen many patients of the asylum, what madness, what secrets had we plundered? Maybe the torment of Rosa C_’s ‘galvanism’ treatment, was she bathed right here before being wrapped in wet blankets and subjected to electro-shock therapy?

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Medical trolley for the asylum patients

We came across a medical tray with an assortment of olden day medicines, no date confirmed however they must have been real old!

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Asbestos nightmare in the asylum

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Looking into the F and G Ward staircase

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

WTF is this behind me?

Daz was around the corner looking at ‘section 3′ whilst I got this shot. I was knelt down taking the shot. I’ve included another grossly zoomed shot and would like to share it as its scared the crap out of me! Daz will confirm his location, I know my location and yet an image of what looks to be a person appears in the background. Maybe this was William G_ plotting his attack – jesus, who knows what the possibilities are

:)

We continued to walk around the segmentation unit passed ‘section 3′ and into more decaying asbestos riddled wash room complexes where we set up for some more shots. No noises today, we had caught the asylum sleeping, we had been accepted right into the belly of the complex – documenting its history and structure before its all lost in time.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

The asylum is warped and twisted

This asylum has just started to turn, ‘that’ smell is starting to lurk, you know the one – this signifies the beginning of the end – damp, rot, decay, abandonment, disease, madness, the smell personifies all of the former. We continued around another administration block, this seems to be the newest part of the entire asylum – an odd feeling washed over me. Why was there so much order in this room, a merged paradise of old and new. So the asylum wears a façade, sometimes it could be easy to forget where you are however the roots of the derelict asylum stand firm and all you have to do is go around a corner to be brought back to sharp reality.

Standing here, I had a real urge to play Slipknots, “Before I forget” and to play it loud however did not have a medium to play such song. What would the memories within this place think of that, I considered a strange dance down the ageing corridor until I recognised that my madness could not match the true madness held within the structure. I did not tell Daz either, he may have thought it just plain wrong.

We revisited the IT and Telecom’s room, all that remains is a dumb structure of the entire operation, the hub, the centre – I wonder if the insane would care for network architecture, I guess not. What is clear though is that someone else has been in since my last and horrifying visit, some things had changed, door last opened were now closed – little things that show presence of someone else or maybe the patients that remain in the heart of the asylum.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Attack by postal in the asylum

We continued up the trunk to the insertion zone and had a poke around. I walked Daz through my footsteps of terror with the previous visit, this led us around for a few more shots. This place looked solitary confinement, almost prison like – I would hate to think what a few nights exposure to this would produce? Would it turn the insane sane… I doubt it.

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Scratches in the plaster, years of torment?

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Sun room for the asylum patients

Now we were walking in a covered area, this area looked to be some sort of elongated summer house? My mind was trying to reconcile the events of the asylum – who would be sitting in here, soaking up the sun, playing an obscure game, maybe it was here where “E. P_ attacked  ‘helpless paralytic’ patient C_, thinking that ‘he ran needles in his eyes and had destroyed the sight of several women whom he knew’” or maybe more sinister like when two patients hanged themselves, perhaps to the amusement of other patients?

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Was this the place?

The asylum manager considered as his ‘worst suicidal case’ a woman who cut her own throat and made repeated attempts, finally ‘thrusting her head through a pane of glass’ when trying to cut her own possessed head off. Indications of location would suggest this room the most probable… scary!

Derelict Abandoned Asylum

Talk Urbex Crew: Daz on the left, sophos9 on the right

We had done it, explored the entire place from top to bottom! We followed the semicircular walkway back to the main trunk hallway, up the trunk hallway we discussed the morning - excitement, fear, adrenaline with 4.5 hours of exploring an untouched asylum “fu***** wild”. We thought this was a good place to stop for rehydrating and for a ‘Talk Urbex Crew Shot’, a most excellent memento for a perfect morning urban exploration.

And like that, we were out – into the fresh air. The asylum knew why we were there and let us document it, that way it will continue to live despite its imminent sale for property development.

Hope you enjoy the experience

Please feel free to discuss this in the Talk Urbex forum

sophos9

20 comments

#1manof2worldsAugust 16, 2009, 11:42 am

awesome, simply awesome. Your “ghost” photo is interesting – I’ve a long background in paranormal research, might be able to help with that one if needed.

Once again, great pics, a cool report and just about the right amount of fear ;-)

#2sophos9August 16, 2009, 12:08 pm

Thanks for the comments! I’m not sure what to think – I’ve asked Daz to take a look and comment. Would have bolted if we would have seen it…

Is an awesome place for sure :)

#3LumpyAugust 16, 2009, 2:31 pm

Truely amazing, what an explore.

That photo has got the creeps up me. It certainly looks like a face of a man in a jacket.

Excellent shots of the long corridors.

Would have loved to have gone ;)

#4Bas van DuijnAugust 17, 2009, 2:36 pm

What a freaking awesome story! I think i didn’t even breath while reading… Made me feel i was there! Compliments!!

    #5sophos9August 17, 2009, 6:55 pm

    Awesome, glad you liked it! It was my most fav urbex yet – knowing that every foot forward was the first infiltration! Nothing comes close to Urbex :)

#6CanRebelAugust 17, 2009, 8:23 pm

WOW, so awesome, loved every photo,would love to
have such a great oppertunity, with such stunning results, way to go guys!! WOW

#7sophos9August 17, 2009, 8:47 pm

Dude, really glad you liked it! Was such a wild experience :)

#8monkeysoxAugust 18, 2009, 8:20 pm

found it!!!! am i allowed to disclose the location??

#9sophos9August 18, 2009, 8:21 pm

monkeysox – send me an email or DM on Twitter :)

#10DazAugust 18, 2009, 11:10 pm

What a write up mate, could not have done a better job of putting into words the feel of that place. How such ear spliting silence could have been home to such madness.

Just reading through brings it all back, adrenalin pumping as if i’m walking down one of the many dark hallways!! This was my first urbex outing, and i only wish i’d discoverd it sooner.

As for the apparition that you got, all i can say is yes i was in another part of the asylum and a good job to as you wouldn’t have seen me for dust if i’d seen that.

#11sophos9August 18, 2009, 11:51 pm

Hey Dude, was awesome right – we have a wild mission! Who knows what that was, most probable some strange artefacts whilst processing.

We left the asylum and survived :)

Many more mission coming my friend

#12MartinoAugust 24, 2009, 3:47 pm

F#cking awesome!! Those are the days…or mornings

#13Der Giftig EinsAugust 26, 2009, 1:57 am

Great photos! and Very interesting.

    #14sophos9August 26, 2009, 8:56 am

    Awesome, thanks for the comments :)

#15Jamie PetersAugust 28, 2009, 10:41 pm

Hope you dont mind but i copied the photo and had a look on photoshop it does definately look like a face, however if it was a reflection would’nt the middle spar of the window break the reflection in half, straight through the apparitions face? I cant say for sure as was not there but thats how it looks to me.

#16sophos9August 28, 2009, 10:47 pm

Jamie, I just had a look over the photo – what you say makes sense, just plain creepy :/

#17Jamie PetersAugust 28, 2009, 10:57 pm

Sorry forgot to say absolutely awesome photos more atmosphere than playing silent hill with the lights out!!

#18sophos9August 28, 2009, 11:14 pm

Awsome Jamie, glad you enjoyed them :)

#19AndrewFebruary 8, 2014, 11:50 am

Awesome…keep the faith. You’ve done good work.

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