The Archives and Museum launches a new web learning resource this weekend, This is Your Hospital, devoted to the middle twenty years of the life of Warlingham Park Hospital. Central to this resource are extracts from a documentary commissioned by the Archives and Museum which combines archive footage and interviews. The documentary was screened for the first time on 10 October, World Mental Health Day, as part of the BBCs ‘Reel History of Britain’ festival, and the Archives and Museum are grateful to the Trustees of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Langley Park Boys School in Beckenham without whose support this event would not have been possible. The website also includes photographs, scanned archive documents and patient files, and further learning resources for use in schools will soon be added.
Opened in 1903 as Croydon Mental Hospital, Warlingham Park Hospital was closed in 1999 in common with many other mental hospitals, but remains an important element of local history. The website aims to share the stories of local people: whether former patients, staff or simply members of the surrounding community. The title, ‘This is Your Hospital’ reflects the ideas of Dr T.P. Rees, the Hospital’s Medical Superintendent from 1935 to 1956, who was in the habit of encouraging patients to make some contribution to the life of the Hospital, and to think of it as belonging to them. “People come to a mental hospital”, he used to say, “to learn how to live”. The experiences of some of these people appear in film clips and written reports, and we hope that the resource will grow over time as more stories are added.
Do you have memories of living or working at Warlingham Park Hospital that you would like to share with others? Or do you have an ancestor who was a patient or a member of staff? Visit the website to share your stories.