Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Long Silence: Part 2

  A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about exploring a local abandoned mental asylum and said I would follow up with more pictures.  Well, after hours of scanning, rescanning, stitching, rescanning, stitching, colour balancing, rescanning, stitching and re colour balancing (I hate Photoshop) I have finally managed to scan my prints and get the scans to look (almost) like the prints.  I really should learn not to print bigger than 8 x 10 because my scanner can’t fit the print in and my computer struggles to run photoshop (I really need to get round to wiping it and reinstalling everything).

  First things first though, a little bit of history (Wikipedia based of course).  Construction on the asylum began in 1869 as the three Lancashire asylums in Prestwich, Rainhill and Lancaster were deemed to be full.  It was designed by Henry Littler, Architect to the Lancashire Asylums Board.  It officially opened in April 1873 and had an initial capacity of 1000 inmates.  Within the grounds were a church, a chapel, a large recreation hall and a farm estate.  In 1878 a new annexe was started to the north of the hospital and this was completed in 1880.  This allowed a further 115 patients to be housed and a dedicated Post Office to be created onsite.  Shortly thereafter in 1884 a sanatorium was established in the hospital grounds to cater for patients with infectious diseases.

  In 1892 works began to provide electric lamps throughout the grounds and another new annexe was started, followed by another in 1912.  By 1915 the hospital housed 2820 inmates, more than double the original capacity.  The Whittingham Hospital Railway which was used to transport coal, goods and staff between the hospital and Grimsargh was closed in June 1957.

  When the First World War struck a new annexe was commissioned to cater for war casualties.  Patients who died were buried on a private cemetery within the hospital grounds.  When the war ceased the hospital returned to private use.

  In 1923 the decision was made to change the name ‘Whittingham Asylum’ to ‘Whittingham Mental Hospital’, presumably to make it sound a little less imposing.  When the Second World War struck the hospital was again used in treating victims of the war.  In 1948 the hospital was renamed to ‘Whittingham Hospital’ after it became a part of the newly formed National Health service.

  In the late 60’s meetings were held with senior staff to discuss complaints of cruelty, ill-treatment and fraud within the hospital.  Those who held the meetings were then threatened with actions for libel and slander.  Eventually the Hospital Management Committee intervened and began inquiries into the allegations of corruption and abuse.

  The hospital eventually closed in 1995 and the hospital still sits there, fenced off.  Plans have been in progress for a number of years to build new homes on the site, but as yet have not been finalised.

  That’s the history, now let’s take a look inside.  I have included the 2 pictures from my previous post just for the sake of completeness.  As previously stated I decided to use the lith process on these prints as the high contrast and graininess would really complement the textures within the decaying buildings.  I used Agfa Brovira paper as it retains highlight detail really well when lathing and you can get a wide variety of print tones depending on developer dilution and life.  I hope you enjoy:

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