Back in the day, and it's only back to the beginning of the 21st Century, there was a policy of "shipping the loonies out of the Borough". Gateshead had used the Durham County mental asylum facility in Sedgefield but when it acquired county borough status it needed to provide its own.
This meant using this purpose built mental
hospital at Stannington, finished just in time for it to be
requisitioned by the War Dept for the housing of troops during World War
One. St. Mary's Hospital (named after the local church) became the name of the new asylum but it was originally known, ie just as recent as 1914, as the Gateshead Lunatic Asylum. Thankfully, we've moved on and now those suffering Alzheimers are looked after in local care homes and other mental patients are currently cared for in the Tramwell Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The Stannington facility was designed in 1910 by the architect and asylum designer George T. Hine. The asylum was intended to serve the pauper industrial population of urban Gateshead and for this purpose the 300 acre (c 121ha) West Duddo farm was acquired in the remote parish of Stannington, Northumberland in 1909 at £31 per acre. Hine produced a design to accommodate 400 patients in ward pavilions laid out in echelon arrangement to form a broad arrow plan, with the intention of extending the building to accommodate 500 patients. The echelon style, developed in the 1870s and 80s, had by this date become the common pattern for asylum buildings. The wards were each intended to be occupied by a different medical class of patient, including sick and infirm, recent and acute, and epileptic. The airing courts were arranged adjacent to the wards as in earlier C19 asylum designs, and the parkland, including a large kitchen garden, enclosed the building and courts. The asylum opened officially in 1914.
For a Haven sent Holiday Break
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See the video taken from above to see the whole layout
Stannington Hospital Photographs and Information brought to you by
The Felling Heritage Group