Photo © Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
- Also Known As:East Sussex County Asylum
- Location Genre:Psychiatric Hospital
- Age:117 years
- Demo / Renovated:N/A
- Decaying for:20 years
- Last Known Status:Being demolished or renovated
In 1903 the East Sussex County Asylum (later named Hellingly Hospital) opened its doors to admitting new patients. It followed the compact arrow plan - central core services such as administration and kitchens were placed in the center, male wards and maintenance buildings to the west, and female wards with sewing shops and nurse's quarters to the east. The buildings were connected with an extensive network of corridors. The plan was designed by G.T. Hine, a notable English asylum architect, and was built with the concept that relaxing views and extreme isolation were beneficial to psychological recovery. This "enclosed community" plan called for staff living on the premises and only a single access road. The asylum also boasted its own electric rail line in 1906, the Hellingly Hospital Railway, used mostly to transport coal to the power house. When it was closed in 1959, it was the oldest operational electric locomotive line in the British Isles. Other structures included villas, an acute hospital (Park House), laundry, a ballroom, chapel, and isolation hospital for infectious diseases.
The capacity of the hospital was originally deemed at 700 patients, although wards were packed with 1,250 by 1955. The overcrowded conditions led to beds in hallways and a general decline in the quality of care, until the Mental Health Act of 1959.
A medium-security unit called Ashen Hill was added in the mid 1980s, however the main hospital campus was slowly closing. It was eventually shuttered in 1994 with the exception of Ashen Hill. Plans are to develop the site into a housing complex (2007).