Seeing a photo of the former Preston Workhouse Hospital in glorious Spring sunshine reminded a woman who used to live there of its past.
Ruth Bond, who now lives in Fulwood, spent four years of her childhood running through the corridors, cellars and gardens of the former hospital.
The building, now owned by the NHS and University of Central Lancashire, used to be a care home in its final years in the early 1980s for people suffering dementia.
“It was a wonderful place to live”, said Mrs Bond, “it was such a happy time and the building was a great place to explore.
“I remember cycling around the grounds for hours and you thought you’d seen it all but then you’d discover another bit.”
The hospital thought could be a scary place for a 10-year-old girl and Mrs Bond recalls an encounter her family had with a ghost.
She said: “I was sleeping one night and I found my bed was starting to move. I woke up and ran into my parents room. They told me not to be silly, but the bed was definitely moving.
“My father went to sleep in my bed and I slept in their bed with my mother. In the morning he said thanks to my mum for coming to check on him, but she hadn’t.
“He had been visited in the night by a grey lady who checked he was okay. He vividly remembered someone coming to check he was okay, but it wasn’t my mother as we had slept soundly in the other bedroom.”
Mrs Bond said many of the patients at the hospital had reported seeing this spirit during their time there.
“We weren’t scared though”, said Mrs Bond, “as we knew she was friendly and only wanted to care for people.”
Down in the depths of the hospital were the cellars and Mrs Bond said they sometimes went exploring.
“There was a huge dining hall at the back of the hospital,” she said, “and a giant stage as well. We went down there but it was terrifying as the electricity wasn’t very good down there and these big doors led down to the cellars.
“While we were living there the East wing had been shut down and it was all blacked out and covered up. I remember looking through corridors and just seeing the endless corridors, they seemed to go on forever.”
Mrs Bond, now 45 and undertaking first aid training, had lived at the hospital for four years while her mother, Amelia Hall, was the officer in charge.
The Workhouse Hospital was owned by Preston Borough Council and opened in 1869, and has had an interesting past. It was a matenity hospital, housed those with infectious diseases and also a mental health hospital.
The opening of Royal Preston Hospital decreased the need for the Workhouse Hospital and its now home to a range of businesses in the health profession as well as NHS offices and UCLan facilities.
For Mrs Bond it will always be a special place, and she can still glimpse the clock-tower from her bedroom window.
“We lived under the clock tower,” she says, “and whenever we drive past I always think just how wonderful the building is and it makes me a little sad to see it not the same as it was.”
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