View Full Version : Archived: Barrow Hospital, Bristol - June 09

22-06-2009, 10:23 PM
A return to the 'local' - I hadn't relised quite how long it had been since I last visited. Not far off a year since I last had a good wander around the site.

Ee's a nutter. Ee awt a be in Barawl Gurnee.


Barrow Hospital is as well known to Bristolians as Brunel, Cary Grant and Cider. While Bristol had its own 'City Asylum' which was constructed in the late 19th Century it's Barrow Hospital that everyone will joke about over a pint of apples.


Nearly 400 acres of land to the south of the City were purchased and construction began in the mid 1930's and was completed ready for patients by 1938 and officially opened in 1939.


No sooner than it had been opened than it closed to serve a change of use to cope with the outbreak of the second world war. It became a naval hospital until 1946 when it reverted to its original purpose. In the original expansion plans the site could have doubled in size to an almost ‘asylum’ status site with main hall, chapel and upward of 15 addditonal villas which would have included private patients.


The original build featured a large administration block, traditionally split into male & female sides. Subsequent Medical Libaries and Offices were adjoined to this. At the back of the site was the East Villa used for Nurses accomodation and The Southside Sick Ward which was the largest building on the site.



The west of the site initially featured 4 villas: Dundry, Blagdon, Coombe & John Cary. Alongside these buildings were also the Red House (I'm guessing this was a superintentants type house), Engineering, Stores & surrounded by woods, the Mortuary.


Over to the North of the site was Northside nurses accomodation block & The mother & baby villa which was used for mothers who suffered from post natal depression.


Only the recreaction hall and Brockley House, a medium secure unit, were built after the 1930's. The hall was knocked down around 2002 and can still be seen on flash earth: http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=51.416004&lon=-2.65891&z=18.9&r=0&src=msl


There are many grim tales and stories that have almost turned into folklaw about Barrow. More than one patient had taken his life during the operating life of the hospital. If you approach the hospital from the Long Ashton side you'll cross the A370 and notice the sucide fences that now adorn the bridge after one patient threw themselves off the bridge and onto subsequent on coming traffic.



The most famous death at Barrow is that of the alledged nurse who hung herself in the woods that completely surround the site. It's believed due to the depressing nature of her day to day duties at Barrow that she could take it no more. I've never been able to get anywhere with this story to rule it out as folklaw or actual truth. I have however had more than one person point out where in the woods it's believe the tragic event took place.

Barrow, though, will always be remembered more for its final days in operation.

In 2003 it was decided by the local Bristol health authority that the Hosptial would close down with the last patients leaving the site around the middle of 2008.


By 2004 the only wards reamined in use were Brockley House - a medium secure unit only built in the late 1990s - and two villas: Dundry & John Cary. Both these villas were High Dependancy Wards (HDU) and had only a couple of years earlier had extensions added to the rear of the villas. Dundry was for acute cases, John Cary for more long term illnesses.


The closure of Barrow was brought forward though after a national inspection of Hospital cleanliness deemed it unacceptably dirty and famously branded it'The Dirtiest Hospital in UK' - as a result of this report both HDU units were closed with immediate effect. Brockley House closed shortly after once the patients could be relocated and after 66 years the hospital had served its last patient.


Returning after nearly a year its clear to see demolition has continued and several big parts are now gone. Again there doesn't seem to be any real plan with the demolition, it all seems quite mindless.


The planned future use of the site is a mixed business/residential site but at the moment the planning appliations are still being contested on the grounds of the very poor access roads leading to the site. With the current 'credit crunch' it might be that site simply disapears back into the countryside that it was until 70 years ago and maybe, just maybe, that would be for the best.


More Photos Here:

And in comparison to how it was 12-18 months ago here: