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Napsbury Hospital

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Alternative name(s):
  • Middlesex County Asylum (Formerly known as)
  • Napsbury Asylum (Formerly known as)
  • Napsbury Mental Hospital (Formerly known as)
  • County of Middlesex War Hospital (Formerly known as)
Date: 1898-1987
History: Middlesex County Council decided to build its asylum after the newly-established London County Council took over its exisitng asylums in 1889. The freehold of Napsbury Manor Farm and its 412 acres was purchased. The design for the new county mental aslyum was made by Rowland Plumbe and the foundation stone laid in 1901. The Middlesex County Asylum opened in 1905 to provide accommodation for 1205 patients and was expanded for 600 more in 1908. During the First World War it served as County of Middlesex War Hospital. After 1918 it was known as Napsbury Mental Hospital

It became known as Napsbury Hospital. On the creation of National Health Service in 1948 it was initially managed by the Shenley and Napsbury Group No. 12 Hospital Management Committee in the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board and later by the Napsbury Group No. 23 Hospital Management Committee. It provided over 2000 beds for patients with mental illness. In 1974 it passed to the Barnet District Health Authority in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority. In 1992 it became part of Barnet Community Healthcare NHS Trust, providing 933 beds. During the 1990s the implementation of the government's policy of care in the community, the hospital was gradually run down until 1998, when it was closed down.
  • Napsbury, Middlesex
Sources of authority: Lunatic paupers or Criminals Act 1808; Lunacy Act 1845; County Lunatic Asylum Act 1845; Lunatic Asylum Act 1853; Local Government Act 1888
Functions, occupations and activities: Health and social care > Hospitals
History Links: webpage on Napsbury Asylum
Historical context: By the Lunatic Paupers or Criminals Act 1808 justices could erect an asylum, with a visiting committee appointed to erect and inspect periodically it. A county rate could be levied to pay for sich county asylums. In 1845 it became mandatory for all counties to have an asylum. By the Idiots Act 1886 attempts were made to differentiate between lunatics, imbeciles and idiots, so that the appropriate forms of care, treatment and education could be given. By the Local Government Act 1888, county councils took over responsibility for aslyums from Quarter Sessions. By the Mental Deficiency Act 1913, further subdivisions for feeble-minded persons and mental defectives were introduced. With the Royal Commission on Lunacy and Mental Disorder, 1924-1926, keynote changes were made, moving the emphasis away from detention to prevention and treatment, and changing the perception of people as being mentally ill rather than lunatics. This was eventually incorporated into legislation in the form of the Mental Health Act 1959, the start of the move towards the idea towards care in the community, which led to the closure of the large former asylums and mental hospitals in the 1990s.
References: Hosprec database; Lost Hospitals of London website; LMA online catalogue
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C75602 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/O79722 )
Number Description Held by Reference Further information
1898-1972: admission and discharge registers, medical journals, case books and financial records
London Metropolitan Archives: City of London
NRA 42098
1959-79: additional records incl agendas, reports and minutes
London Metropolitan Archives: City of London
See Annual Return 2005
1899-1903: hospital plans
London Metropolitan Archives: City of London
See Annual Return 2005
1900-1987: additional plans incl site, wards and drainage
London Metropolitan Archives: City of London
See Annual Return 2005
1915-1919: admission and discharge registers and medical sheets for personnel of expeditionary and imperial forces treated at the hospital
The National Archives
1933-1935: Pathological Department reports
Wellcome Library
Related record creators
  Record creator Description of relationship Dates Category of relationship
Napsbury Hospital was established as an asylum for the County of Middlesex run by Middlesex County Council
Napsbury Hospital was managed by the Napsbury Hospital Management Committee
Napsbury Hospital came under the control of the North West Thames Regional Health Authority