Hartwood Hospital

Hartwood Hospital was, at one time, the largest asylum in Europe, designed to house 500 patients in six wards.

Construction started in the beginning of 1890 on land purchased from Lord Deas (the “hanging judge”), with a branch line built from the nearby Hartwood Station. The official opening was on 20th May 1895, and by 1901 the hospital had over 800 patients, in a hospital that was it’s own self-contained world with it’s own farm, power plant, water supply, cottages for staff, bowling greens and train service. Hartwood pioneered the idea that psychiatric patients should not just be locked away, but some attempt should be made to treat them – Hartwood was the first hospital in Scotland to use Lobotomy as a cure, pioneered occupational therapy, and in 1985 was the first hospital to try community care.

The hospital just about made it to it’s centenary, and it’s College of Nursing, annexed to Strathclyde University’s Bell College, survived a bit longer and closed in 2000. Most of the wards were demolished, but the main building with it’s twin towers survived, and for a time became the Lanarkshire Media Centre, home to Lanarkshire TV, a short-lived local TV station. That lasted a couple of years then the building was abandoned, and suffered a serious fire in 2004. It now stands very derelict.

This was a two-day explore – first to have a look at the nursing college, then back a week later for the main building. The nursing college covers three sides of a square, and is an elegant Victorian stone building. Access isn’t for the faint-hearted…

Inside, it has some beautiful stairwells:

And some interestingly bulgy parquet flooring:

Most of it, though, is nothing too exciting:

So, on to the main buildings:

The first challenge was the towers – the west tower was burnt out, so access was only possible to part-way up:

The east tower is in much better shape – this is the top of the matching staircase:

Climbing higher, there’s the clock room:

With some fascinating graffiti:

Then up to the roof, with a view of the west tower and the nursing college in the distance:

It’s a beautiful set of battlements up there:

Back down, there’s loads of trashed rooms – nothing too thrilling, but some more graffiti:

Then into the laundry, still smelling strongly of soap (the laundry, not me):

Some massive tumble dryers:

I did wonder about the wisdom of having the main power panels in the toilets:

Next, on to the mortuary, with it’s rather cheery wallpaper:

The slab itself:

And the freezers:

A couple of little tugs still wait in a shed:

A panorama of the beautiful covered walkways that linked the buildings – these used to be very long, but have mostly been demolished…

…as this picture shows:

19 Responses

  1. Hi: the clock in the clock tower has the w for west on the right side and E for east on west;Why this reversal?thankyou a. hayward burnaby b.c. canada

    1. I used to help run my step dads ice cream van around Hartwood Hospital in the 1980’s. Sad, but certainly not surprised its gone. Really fond memories of the place though 🙂

    1. My grandfather died here on 16 April 1935.

      Anthony Dixon (Cssonis) from Viewpark.

      Anyone any information on what went on in Hartwood.
      Why was he put there?

      1. I think people were put here for the slightest little thing . My mother was taken here as she was found wondering the streets with no clothes on. It all came to light that she was attacked and raped with not just one man but two

  2. My great grandmother was a patient fron 1925 until she died in 1942 her husband was in a pit accident in the January and she wa taken to there I do not know where she is buried

  3. My training started here in 1982 and I resided in Nursing Home . It was a truly unique place and most of the staff there were some of the most caring people I have ever encountered. They used all resources they had to ensure a caring clean comfortable environment for all residents. A truly beautiful building which even in 1982 required a full renovation to keep its standard acceptable. Its a pity it has now become so derelict as it was and is a truly remarkable piece of our history.

    1. As part of my Registered Nurse training I had to go to Hartwood for the Psychiatric part of the course and my experience there left me traumatised not by the patients but by the way some of the psychiatric nursing staff mistreated them. This was approximately 1988 or 89. The ward I worked in was a male long term ward with a mixture of ages.
      Patients were treated by several members of staff as sub human.
      However, there were two female nurses who were wonderful with them and treated them like the human beings they were. Every second Saturday one of them used to take several of the patients to see Motherwell football team play at home and another one used to sing and tap dance for them. Both these girls were a ray of sunshine to their patients and a credit to their profession and must have made easier to bear what was otherwise the unbearable life these men had. Any nurse who rocked the boat by reporting anyone who mentally or physically abused patients would have been blacklisted of that I am sure.
      I hated Psychiatry and could not get out of Hartwood quick enough but I have never ever forgotten the two good nurses.

  4. my great grandmother was a patient here from 1925 until 1942 she had a child who died in 1922 another who died 1924 and in 1925 her husband was killed in a mining accident she had 3 boys 22,20 and 18 also a 6 year old daughter who was brought up with her family

  5. The big shame about a lot of buildings of this type is due to be listed they cost more to repair. This in conjunction with the budget struggles public bodies such as the NHS face means that these buildings are not suitable to hold onto and are difficult to then sell to possible developers that will have a positive use of them.

  6. My mum work here from 1972 til 1982.
    We used to drop her at work and pick her up.
    The gardens were beautiful and the hospital was well looked after.
    It’s a shame to see such a beautiful build collapse into ruins.

    I live in Allanton and the click towers are do noticeable.

  7. Did the psychy part of my nurse training here 1994-1997. What a place! There were patients in there from decades before and were completely institutionalised. I was lucky enough to train there before it closed. What a place. What characters!!!!!!

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