Horton Road Hospital

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Horton Road Hospital
Established 1812
Construction Began 1815
Opened 1823
Closed 1988
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Corridor Plan
Architect(s) William Stark
Location Gloucester
Alternate Names
  • Gloucestershire First County Asylum


In 1793 the governors of the Gloucester Infirmary opened a subscription for building an independent lunatic asylum at Gloucester. Sir George Onesiphorous Paul, who already gets a mention in The Story of Gloucester for his involvement with prison reform, was also involved with reform of mental health care and he proposed a scheme of three classes of patient: the wealthy, the poor on parochial relief and the poor not on relief who would be subsidized by wealthy patients, benefactors and legacies. The principle was that no person would be disadvantaged by status of class or lowly social rank, pauper and peasant alike would be and should be accommodated. The Committee of Subscribers adopted this scheme and in 1794 bought land near to the infirmary, but this proved to be inadequate so in 1811 they bought 45 acres of land at Wotton, half a mile from the city, for the building.

By this time, our old friend George Onesiphorous Paul had been busy with his reforming, and had been a primary driver in the creation of the 1808 County Asylums Act, so when the subscribers ran into financial difficulty in 1812 they invited the City and Council to join them, under this act, to provide accommodation for paupers on parochial relief. A union was formed where the county paid 55%, subscribers 40% and the city 5% toward building & maintenance. Building finally began around 1815, but completion was still delayed largely by financial problems of the subscribers. The Asylum finally opened on 21 July 1823

The first asylum was built of brick and stucco, with a central three-story crescent housing 24 wealthy patients with their servants, and wings for 60 paupers and 26 charity patients. This was one of the early asylums in the country, and many radical and progressive treatments were first applied here, mainly under the direction of Samuel Hitch, principal founder of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association.

By the mid 1800s the asylum began to experience problems due to the increased numbers of ‘pauper lunatics’ and depleted funding. Large new wing extensions were built in 1852 and 1855 for paupers and in 1856 the union between county, city and subscribers was dissolved and subscribers paid off. Management was taken over by the County and City and the building was converted for exclusive use of paupers. At this time it became known as the County Asylum. The subscribers made £13,000 pounds out of the deal, which they used to buy Barnwood House in 1858 to turn into a private mental hospital or “rest home for the insane.” One of the subscribers was W.H Hyett, who later became regarded as the “father” of the Barnwood Asylum. By the late 1860s and early 1870s the County Asylum was full to bursting point, so in 1878 the county bought an estate at Barnwood, near to the Barnwood Asylum, on which they built the second county asylum, which opened in 1883. With the Introduction of the NHS in 1948 the original asylum was renamed Horton Road Hospital and the new asylum became Coney Hill Hospital.

Horton Road Hospital was closed on March 31 1988 and was left vacant and decaying for 12 years before being converted to apartments. Coney Hill Hospital was not far behind, closing on 31 December 1994. This too was left empty and was partly demolished by fire before being developed into apartments.