A revealing collection of rare archive photographs of the historic Cheadle Royal Hospital has recently been discovered, with many of the pictures now available to view in a major photographic exhibition in Cheadle Public Library, as well as online on the Cheadle Civic Society website.
Archivists from the Cheadle Civic Society have worked closely with Cheadle Royal Hospital staff throughout the year to find hundreds of rarely seen photographs which depict a rich variety of scenes at this specialist mental health hospital over the past 120 years.
Many of the photographs, which were largely used for marketing purposes in the early part of the 20th Century, show the extraordinary grandeur of this early Victorian hospital building and the extensive range of facilities which were available to patients at the time.
They show everything from the lavish and very comfortable living quarters which were used by the mainly private or donation-supported patients in the pre NHS era, to the beautiful manicured gardens, expansive sports fields and magnificent ballroom, which were all designed to provide a highly convivial place for people to get very specialist health care and recuperate.
What is of great significance is that Cheadle Royal Hospital is the oldest dedicated mental health hospital in the North-West and this year it is 250 years since it originally opened in the centre of Manchester, when it was called the Manchester Lunatic Asylum.
As the needs of the asylum grew, a new, highly advanced hospital was built in the late 1840s in what was then countryside around Cheadle, and since it opened, it has provided highly innovative specialist mental health care to many thousands of vulnerable people.
Today, it remains one of the country’s leading specialist mental health hospitals, providing ground breaking treatment to people of all ages and with a range of mental health issues, from eating disorders to continual self-harm, with all patients now referred to the hospital by the NHS.
There are also a selection of revealing photographs of Cheadle Royal’s “seaside retreat” -a magnificent Victorian home built in more than 30 acres of land close to the sea-front in Colwyn Bay.
This is where many patients with less acute conditions were sent from the 1910s to the late 1950s to convalesce in an even more convivial environment.
Phillip Gould-Bourn, chairman of the Cheadle Civic Society, said: “The pictures not only provide a fascinating insight into the history of one of the oldest mental health hospitals in the country, but they also show how important heritage preservation is in helping to get a clearer understanding of the past.”
A number of these rare photographs are now on a show at a special exhibition at Cheadle Public Library, 23 Ashfield Road, Cheadle, which will remain for the next six months.
A larger selection of photographs, as well as further information about the history of Cheadle Royal Hospital, can also be viewed online at: www.cheadlecivicsociety.org