Barrow Gurney Hospital was a psychiatric hospital in Barrow Gurney, Somerset, U.K.
In order to prevent overcrowding at the existing Victorian mental asylums in Somerset in the ‘30s, it was decided that a new mental hospital has to be built up. First patients were admitted in 1938 and the hospital used to treat seamen injured during conflicts or those who were suffering from psychological distress until it closed in 2006 to treat mental health disorders.
Barrow Gurney was carried out to a design where ward block villas were totally isolated from each other, the “heart” of the hospital for administration and treatment being situated in a totally separate complex on another part of the site. The particular layout was to give patients a sense of privacy and community, this having been found to be extremely beneficial to their mental wellbeing.
Attitudes to mental health issues were changing in Britain by the ‘50s – the term “mental” was dropped as well – it was now just plain old Barrow Gurney Hospital. In 2005, a national survey was carried out and Barrow Gurney earned the shady distinction of being the dirtiest hospital in the country, with “an unacceptably dirty environment”. This severe criticism quickened the closure of the hospital.
Developers Del Piero bought the site and immediately put security measures in place, so for a time, Barrow Gurney was impossible to explore. Their original plan was to replace it with a modern housing estate. Planning permission was applied for and granted. But shortly after the initial demolition began it was found that bats had taken shelter in many of the buildings, and as bats are highly protected, the demo had to stop.
The hospital has then become a target for vandals and haunted sites seekers. Now the site is completely demolished and plans are in place for a development of luxury housing and retirement homes.
Artwork By JPS