Mid Wales Hospital
Brecon & Radnor Joint Lunatic Asylum
What: Mental Hospital, later failed business park
Where: Talgarth, Powys
Built: 1903 with later additions
Architect: Messrs. Giles, Gough and Trollope
Visited: 2009, 2010
Last Known Condition: Derelict, secured against trespassers in 2011.
Page Updated: October 2012
In the midst of the Brecon Beacons, the Mid Wales Hospital stands in utter, hopeless neglect, having been largely unoccupied for a decade. The large psychiatric hospital closed in 2000 due to a combination of factors including its relative isolation and changes to mental health care in England and Wales. Controversially sold to the resident Chief Medical Officer for just £227,000, the optimism surrounding its conversion and re-use as a business park was extinguished when the global recession forced bankruptcy in 2008. Since then the owners have begun asset stripping the hospital, removing many of the slate tiles (valued at £2 million alone). Water ingress and rot have swiftly and inevitably followed and the whole place has become a sad, decaying mess.
This obvious pessimism contrasts markedly with feelings at the time of its opening more than a century ago. The building, designed by Messrs Giles, Gough and Trollope of London and built at a cost of £126,000 was originally the Brecon and Radnor Counties Joint Lunatic Asylum. It was opened amid public ceremony on 18th March, 1903, by the Rt. Hon. Lord Glanusk who said of it "everything has been done that human ingenuity could devise for the happiness and safety of the inmates, and under the blessing of God, for their speedy restoration to health."
Although the population of the two Welsh counties remained small, by the end of 1925, 455 patients were resident. Like other contemporary institutions, the asylum was designed to be self-sufficient, and had its own private water, electricity, heating and sewerage systems as well as a considerable agricultural estate. As well as wards, the hospital had a large hall, kitchens, workshops "in which the patients [were] encouraged to spend their time profitably", a tailor, bakery, shoe-maker and printing shops as well as 8 acres of market gardens.
L-R: Administrative Block; D'almaine upright; Recreation Hall; Villa Corridor; Nurses' Block
After the First World War, patients from Montgomeryshire were also admitted, and the 'asylum' was extended and renamed the "Mid-Wales Counties Mental Hospital" During the second World War the hospital was required to take 67 male and 48 females patients from Cardiff City Mental Hospital which had been requisitioned as a war hospital. In July of the same year, it was agreed that most of the hospital should be given over to military use and most patients were transferred to other Welsh mental hospitals. After a spell as a Prisoner of War camp, the hospital was returned to civillian use in 1947.
The NHS brought a number of advances, such as occupational therapy and the integration of the sexes, who had previously occupied opposite sides of the hospital as well as increasing emphasis on short stays and rehabilitation.
L-R: c.2005 (Microsoft); c. c.1905 (OS/HMSO); c. 2008 (Google)
The hospital continued its work in care and rehabilitation for many years, but by the 1970s and 80s had begun downsizing as more effective treatments and better community care became available.
In 1994 the number averaged around 140 and wards began closing gradually. Final closure took place on April 7th 2000 and the remaining patients were transfered to other hospitals or discharged. Those services still deemed necessary were transferred to nearby Bronllys Hospital, a former tuberculosis sanatorium which continues to operate as a general hospital.
This page is respectfully dedicated to the patients who lived and died at The Mid-Wales Hospital.
"Gorphwysant bellach esmwyth hun o hedd"
- Gallery -
Grounds & Chapel - Mortuary - Administration - Stores - Boiler plant - East Wards 1-6 - Occupational Therapy - Cafeteria & Sandwich Room -
Recreation Hall - Nurses' Home - West Wards 1-6 -
Clinic - Airing Courts - Annexe Wards - College of Nursing
Perhaps surprisingly none of the hospital buildings are listed. Around 2011 the site was sold to a developer who planned to redevelop it: In October 2012, however, the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority rejected outright an application to demolish all of the buildings with the exception of the Administration block to make way for 105 dwellings and a care home.
Although the buildings have been given a reprieve, their future is still uncertain.
- Concise Bibliography -