Wakefield Asylum (The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum)

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Wakefield Asylum (The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum) (1818 - 1995)

Location: Aberford Road, Wakefield, Yorkshire, England

Wakefield Asylum (The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum)

The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Wakefield, Yorkshire (familiarly known as Wakefield Asylum), was opened in 1818 with accommodation for 150 patients. Samuel Tuke, then superintendent of the York Retreat, acted as a consultant to the West Riding magistrates in the design and construction of the institution. Tuke’s recommendations were published in 1819 as Hints on the Construction and Economy of Pauper Lunatic Asylums. Wakefield Asylum’s first medical director was Dr William Charles Ellis, who stayed in post until 1831. Over the course of the next couple of decades, the asylum was enlarged in somewhat piecemeal fashion in order to accommodate its ever-growing number of patients. By the mid-1860s numbers had exceeded one thousand. Wakefield’s best-known superintendent was the eminent Victorian psychiatrist James Crichton-Browne, who held the post from 1866 to 1875. The name of the hospital was changed upon the advent of the National Health Service in 1948 to the Stanley Royd Hospital. The eventual closure of the hospital in 1995 was simply part of the late twentieth-century narrative of the deinstitutionalization of mental healthcare.