Southall 830-1982

When the canal came through it cut off land from Trumpers Farm, with the name of ‘Chevy Chase’ bounded by River Brent on the east side, frontage to Uxbridge Road and west side Windmill Lane. It was purchased and became the site of Hanwell Asylum. Under Robert Sibley, architect, building was started in 1830 to cost £120,000. The labour was almost all French prisoners of war, only about 20 local men were employed. It was opened May 16th, 1831 with 600 patients Dr and Mrs Ellis in charge. He was a splendid humane man. Over the years more buildings were added and the number of patients in 1917 totalled 2,124. It was almost self-contained, for a good number of years it had its own brewery, bakery, some patients worked on a farm and grew most of the vegetables. This has all gone now and is known as St Bernards Hospital. It has a very up-to-date laundry and all modern hospital equipment. Gone are the days when all along the frontage to the Uxbridge Road was an 8 ft. high wall, with the gates at the entrance arch always shut. Now, on what used to be the Staff Playing Fields, is the new King Edward Hospital, built between 1974-80 by Sinclairs of Cambridge at a cost of over 8½ million pounds. So, in the year the old Hanwell Asylum celebrated its 150th anniversary, it has now become St Bernards Annexe.
From personal experience I can say ‘Thank God’ for things as they are today compared with the treatment of mental patients years ago. The caring for mental patients of the upper class became a very paying business, and the large house built in Southall Park (Shepherd Haw), after several occupants, was turned into a private asylum. Dr J. Connolly and a Dr Boyd, who bought the house from a Doctor Stewart, had control. On the night of August 14th, 1883 a disastrous fire burned the house down, and Dr Boyd, his son, two patients and two servants died. Boyd Avenue is named after him. It was as a direct result of this fire that Southall Fire Brigade was started.
Another large house, Featherstone Hall, built on the site of Featherstone Farm at the corner of The Green and what was then Workhouse Lane, for a Mr. Alfred Weise (more later) eventually became a private asylum with a Dr Bailey in charge. This carried on until demolished in 1934.
Scarlet fever and diphtheria have now almost been eradicated but an epidemic in 1876 caused a small Fever Hospital to be erected in Havelock Road near where the New Temple now stands. Nothing of this remains but in 1903-4 Mount Pleasant Isolation Hospital was built. Dr Davenport Windle was Medical Officer of Health, Mrs E. A. West, Matron, and Mr J. Dixon Caretaker. It was the practice in those days that a horse and van collected all infected bedding and clothing; it being all steamed and disinfected before being returned. Today Mount Pleasant Hospital is a Geriatric Centre for chronic cases. Infectious cases are now sent to Isleworth
After the First World War it was felt that a local General Hospital was needed. Initial steps taken by the Council February 10th, 1925 and a Committee formed, and subscriptions asked for. In 1930-31 a site was purchased at the rear of Holy Trinity Church but this was ultimately resold and, in 1933, the present site which was The Chestnuts was bought for £2,500. A ceremony of stone laying by Viscount Wakefield took place on June 19th, 1934 and he donated one thousand guineas. After alterations and additions, the architects being Messrs Bostock and Hollings, the first patients were admitted on the 20th November, 1935. It was officially opened by Alderman Percy Vincent, Lord Mayor of London, Wednesday, 27th November, 1935. The whole cost was met by public subscriptions. Miss D. Spriggs was Matron. A penny-a-week scheme organised by Mrs Young produced a million pennies.
Since 1976 there have been many attempts to close it down but one can only hope that it will continue its good work.