I live in a town that has lived through a lot. Two world wars. The journey from a tiny rural community to an urban one. The granting of ‘Bad’ status to denote that it is officially a medical spa town. Throughout all of that, one thing has been constant. This town is, and has been for a long time, believed to be good for your health. From the late 1800s it has been home to facilities devoted to health and well-being and , in days gone by, to the care of tuberculosis patients. So, all of that to say ,this place is full of history and full of hospitals. One of the oldest, dating from the early 1900s, was finally closed a few years ago. When the opportunity arose to explore the abandoned building, I couldn’t resist. I love history and I love shenanigans. Count me in.
The hospital itself is a Russian doll of a building with many additions and extensions, the original structure now only visible in a few places . The grounds were once manicured parkland but nature is slowly reclaiming them. Aside from a little low-level vandalism, the building and grounds are in pretty good shape. In places you can catch a glimpse of the grandeur of the original building, built when light and air were believed to be as important as medicine.
The hospital once operated almost as its own self-contained little community and the extensive grounds and out buildings are testament to this. It even had its own kindergarten and park for younger patients. Sad that it wont be played with again.
The atmosphere inside was eerie. I don’t think my overactive imagination helped. Fair to say, my heart was beating faster than usual while exploring. I’d researched the history of the building prior to visiting and had reels of black and white images from the early 1900s flipping through my mind. Stern nurses and grim-faced patients. I find that sort of imagery captivating, but slightly unsettling. As a point of interest the British Army also took over this building for a while when they took the town in the immediate after math of WW2.
I spotted a surprising amount of objects left behind. In places it almost felt like staff had left in a hurry. Some objects sparked my curiosity…the medical records left behind made me wonder about the patients. Were they happy people? Did they make a full recovery from whatever brought them here? What kind of people were they? I felt a little sad that these personal glimpses into someones life and health were reduced to litter on the floor of an abandoned building.
This stopped clock in the kitchens caught both my attention and imagination. When the hospital was alive I wonder how many staff glanced up to it, keeping time for the days work or counting down until the next break time or end of shift. How long it kept time for after the last person left.
I have no idea what is planned for the site or if the building is listed or protected. I hope that who ever takes it on next, their plans will include some way to commemorate this hospital and the hundreds of years of history played out within its walls.