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History of Whittingham mental hospital to be explored

Posted on - 2nd April, 2017 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Grimsargh, History, News, Nostalgia, UCLan
If only walls could speak. Inside the former Whittingham mental hospital. Pic: scrappynw
If only walls could speak. Inside the former Whittingham mental hospital. Pic: scrappynw

The history of a former mental asylum on the outskirts of Preston is to be explored.

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Whittingham Lives is a two year project piecing together the lives of those who lived, worked and were treated at Whittingham Asylum.

For more than 150 years the buildings were transformed from a Victorian mental health institution and are now becoming a housing estate.

Researchers are calling for those with memories of the institution to get in touch, as they receive nearly £70,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council to preserve the memories of those associated with the asylum.

Leading the project is Dr Mick McKeown from the University of Central Lancashire.

Read more: Haunting pictures inside the former Whittingham Asylum

He said: “Whittingham Asylum was one of the biggest in Europe and was believed to be the biggest in the United Kingdom at one time with more than 500 staff and more than 3,000 patients. It is a place steeped in history and was the centre for mental health care in this area for a very long time.

“This project will enable people of all ages to unite in creative endeavour, learn new skills, forge new knowledge of local history and increase awareness of the heritage of the area.

“Through this transformative work, the participants will make a significant contribution to the changing of public attitudes towards mental ill-health, through fostering greater understanding of its treatment over generations.”

Whittingham buildings now...
Whittingham buildings now…
Whittingham mental hospital, then.... pic: George Speight
Whittingham mental hospital, then…. pic: George Speight

A launch event for the Whittingham Lives project was held on Monday 27 March and included talks, poetry and musical performances connected to Whittingham.

Read more: Interview with former mental health nurse who worked at Whittingham

Working with UCLan on the project are the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Lancashire County Council.

Archivist at the county council Kathryn Newman said: “We want to accrue archives and artefacts, modern memories and people’s stories so we can give a voice to people who are no longer here with us. It will be fascinating and a project which I’m sure will interest many people.”

The NHS is making the hospital’s records available to the project so they can be digitised.

How you can help the Whittingham project

Anyone wanting to get involved can email whittinghamlives@gmail.com or visit the Whittingham Lives site.

Do you have any memories of Whittingham? You can share them in the comments below

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