Middlewood Hospital

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This Hospital opened in August 1872. These new buildings were vastly superior to any asylum that had previously been built. Unlike now, recreation facilities for patients and staff were very much in evidence. This asylum was described in the press as one of the most imposing structures near Sheffield.

 

Photo taken in late 1920's
The hospital in late 1920's. Photo supplied by Jim Machin who worked here in early 1960's
To view a larger photo, click here

 

It was constructed with considerable improvements in its design and facilities. Middlewood was then little more than a country village beyond Hillsborough. Visiting patients was not easy, the local railway station was some distance away, an alternative was horsedrawn omnibus to Owlerton, and then pony and trap. Patients could only be visited once a month.

 

Aerial view of the Kingswood building taken just after the renovation. work    Photo: Ian Slater of Developer Urban-i             Photo: Luis Arroyo taken in 1992

 

First admissions in this 750 beds institution were patients diagnosed as suffering mainly from mania, melancholia and dementia. The rest were admitted with general paralysis of insane, dementia senile, imbecility and idiocy (Some of these words were commonly acceptable then. Today they have no place in modern Psychiatric)

 

 

Mr Crapper in 1916. Photo: Sharon Booth   « Mr W. Crapper in uniforms of 1916 and 1927 »     Mr Crapper in 1927.  Photo: Sharon Booth

 

Throughout the 19th century there was little curative treatment available. Asylums were organised for the care, protection and control of the mentally disordered until a possible natural recovery or remission occurred.

 

A view of the main entrance to the hospital. Photo: Sharon Booth                         This is Middlewood Road and on the left the main entrance to the Hospital.  Photo: Sharon Booth

 

A distinctly pessimistic outlook on the possibilities for cure of mental illness was commonly held at this time, possibly as a consequence of the disappointing search for the causes of insanity in terms of brain pathology. It was noted that mechanical restrain and wetpacks had to be used on a few occasions to control violent patient. It was not until 1882 that the drug Paraldehyde was developed as a safe and reliable sedative for excited patients.

 

Afternoon sports day in 1964.  Photo: Sharon Booth                      Afternoon sports day in 1964. Photo: Sharon Booth

 

The close association of recreation and work was characteristic of asylum life for patients and staff, leading to a closely knit happy community living together in semi-isolation and showing little change over years until the care in the community act was introduced.

 

Sports day taking place in the afternoon of 1964. Photo: Sharon Booth                   Sports day in 1964.  Photo: Sharon Booth

 

In the last century. Locked doors restrain and heavy sedation was used on disturbed patients, followed by work and recreational therapy. Former drastic methods of restrain such as the use of leg and arm irons had been abolished, but a thick linen jacket buttoned at the back with a long outside sleeves were in use, as were of a padded or protected room.

 

 

 

The main drug to sedate some patients was Opium. Antimony salt was also used to calm patients. Other forms of treatment included Turkish or hot baths and some brief electronic stimulation were also applied.

 

Photo from Dorothy Staniford who used to be a nurse cadet at the Hospital                         Mr Booth and work colleagues in 1959.  Photo: Sharon Booth

 

Most asylums obtained a discharge rate of 50% of their recent and acute cases, though with a high relapse rate. In 1876 the number of patients rapidly increased to a total of over 1,000 and overcrowding undoubtedly contributed to widespread diarrhoea.

 

Patient and nurse in the Occupational Therapy Department.  Photo: Sharon Booth                                                     This is Ivy Hacking  probably when becoming a fully qualified nurse. Photo: Ken & Barbara Carr

 

Keeping nursing staff was becoming a problem, female staff stayed only a short time despite a rise in salary from £ 15 to £ 18 p.a. plus allowances. There was little training for nursing applications in those days.

 

Ivy Hacking (Sitting Right) became Mrs Carr when she married in 1962.  Photo: Barbara & Ken Carr                                                Matron making retirement presentation to Ivy Carr in 1965.  Photo: Barbara & Ken Carr

 

Homicidal patients were also a grave responsibility requiring much care and supervision. Night nurses had strict instructions not to visit such patients alone.

         

      Ivy Carr was Ward Sister for many years. Photo: Barbara & Ken Carr                                                Ivy Carr worked at the hospital from 1935 until 1965. Photo: Barbara & Ken Carr

 

Due to an increased demand for beds, this asylum was enlarged in 1876 with two additional blocks later known as Kingswood and Queenswood. The material used was red pressed brick made on site with the help of patients. Patients also help with the labouring and discovered the roots of several fossilised trees.

 

When Ivy retired she was caring on ward 13. Photo: Barbara & Ken Carr                               Ward 13 probably formed part of the Clock Tower building. Photo: Barbara & Ken Carr

 

Before Middlewood Hospital, it was not uncommon for patients to refuse all food, either due to apathy or suicidal intent. Forcible feeding was then necessary, which became a more successful procedure with the invention of tube feeding, introduced in 1845.

 

Ivy's retirement card  in 1965. Photo: Barbara & Ken Carr                        Ivy's retirement card signed by all 50 patients of ward 13. Photo: Barbara & Ken Carr

 

In the 1930's, a new era in the mental hospital legislation began. It was recommended that the term "Asylum" to be replaced by "Hospital", and "Lunatic" by "Person of unsound mind". It was also recommended the development of outpatient's clinic to detect and treat early cases of mental health disorder.

 

Miss O. Fearnley. Photo: Sharon Booth    «  Laboratory staff in 1964 »   Mr A. Kitson. Photo: Sharon Booth

In 1964 Middlewood Hospital laboratory was staffed by four people. It played a vital part in all diagnoses and treatment and apart from routine laboratory processes and some bio-chemistry. It did a great deal of work in connection with blood transfusion and haematology.

 

 

Dr F.T. Thorpe and wife. Photo: Sharon Booth
This is the medical superintendent Dr Frederick Thomas Thorpe and wife, he worked at the hospital for over 37 years, and retired in 1964. Mr Thorpe was also the person who commemorated the centenary of Middlewood Hospital by preparing a small book called 'The Middlewood Hospital Sheffield. One Hundred Years 1872- 1972.'

 

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