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UER Forum > UE Photography > North Sea Asylum (Viewed 353 times)
Sanitarium Sean 


Location: Maine
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 232 likes




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North Sea Asylum
< on 9/8/2018 12:45 AM >
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IMG_1936
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



In 1781, a small town north of Edinburgh became home to Scotland's first asylum for the insane, described as a "house and garden" on the outskirts of the town center. By the early 19th century, this institution was already experiencing overcrowding, which in turn contributed to deteriorating conditions. In 1858, a new asylum was completed on a parcel of farmland in an adjacent village, while the original site was vacated. Increased capacity at the new complex allowed for stringent requirements for admission to be relaxed.


Despite the increased space, the number of patients continued to grow, reaching 670 by 1900. Over the next 10 years, several additional buildings were constructed, including an infirmary, cottages and 2 "detached villas". During World War II, steps were taken to protect the asylum and its patients, including gas proofing and sandbagging of basement windows and the issuance of gas masks. In October of 1940, five high explosive bombs fell on the hospital grounds, breaking windows and causing injuries, but with no casualties. Due to bomb damage at other asylums, many additional patients were temporarily housed here, increasing the number of patients beyond 1000 for the first and only time.




423269.jpg (79 kb, 510x706)
click to view


The asylum's most famous patient was Charles Altamont Doyle, father of author Arthur Conan Doyle. Struggling with alcoholism and depression, Doyle was admitted to the asylum in May 1885, after a violent escape attempt from a nursing home. Plagued by delusions and visions, Doyle spent much of his time drawing and sketching, with an emphasis on fantastical scenes and beings. This piece, titled 'The Spirits of the Prisoners', depicts these creatures swooping around the asylum.
(Courtesy of Angus Folklore)






Over the next few decades, the asylum underwent many changes as advances were made in the field of mental health. As asylums across Scotland were consolidated, the hospital saw its resident population steadily drop. Meanwhile, improvements were made to increase quality of life for patients and staff, including modernization of several wards, installation of radiators, and the introduction of television sets in the wards during the 1950's. The population continued to dwindle until the hospital officially closed in 2011.


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While this asylum is well known among the UK exploring community, I had only heard of it upon my arrival last winter. However, even as I researched the site and looked at other's photos, it held a certain sense of mystery, a large mental hospital tucked far away in the hills of Scotland. Despite its popularity among explorers, its remote location and inconsistent site security made it a bit of a gamble to access. Even if it was a shot in the dark, though, I just had to see it for myself. Near the end of the semester, with my workload lightening, I made plans for the 12-hour round trip, not sure what to expect.


After a six-hour train ride, and a long walk from the station to the village, the hospital grounds were a breath of fresh air. A vast expanse of lawn led up to the main building and infirmary, and in the other direction, the North Sea glimmered on the horizon. I spent much of the afternoon scouting the site for access, and just enjoying the day. I wasn't alone, as quite a few locals strolled or walked their dogs. With a helpful tip from Mookster, plus a bit of dumb luck, I had a way in; I would check into my B&B, get some food and sleep, and return under the cover of darkness.


Early the next morning, I made my way back to the hospital grounds. With the sun still below the horizon, all was quiet and still, and the structures on the hill loomed ahead.





The main building:

1

IMG_1953
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




The infirmary:

2

IMG_1967
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



Before setting up my camera, I took some time to wander the dark halls of the main building. Initially, the decor seemed rather clinical and beige; this wing had clearly been modernized.

3

IMG_2009
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



A peek out a window, towards the building's main hall:

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IMG_2300
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



However, as I made my way through the building, beige gave way to more vibrant blues and yellows, and the structure's original charm began to show through. In a few spots, only a doorway or stairwell stood between the old and the new.

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S-2190
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2338
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2360
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2145
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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Su-2361
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



From here, it was on to the upper levels...

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IMG_2045
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2421
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2080
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2307
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2320
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2101
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



...Then down to the basement:

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IMG_2403
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



Even on an uncommon sunny day, the basement cells and rooms enjoyed little natural light; low ceilings and small windows made for a gloomy atmosphere. I'd imagine patients were housed here only as a last resort when space was limited.

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IMG_2291
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



A small record storage room:

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IMG_2296
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



Around the corner, a series of tunnels connect utilities between the power plant and various outbuildings:

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IMG_2286
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2299
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



After a quick walk to the village for some breakfast, I returned to check out more of the main building, including the main hall. The woodwork and decor in here were absolutely stunning, and these features were accentuated by the morning light pouring through the hall's massive windows. It was also here that I met a couple of other explorers, among the handful of people I'd meet here throughout the day.

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S-2480
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2397
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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S-2243
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2257
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



A painted backdrop still hangs behind the stage:

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IMG_2262
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



Meanwhile, the studio of a small radio station, once run with the help of patients, remains scattered with paperwork and equipment.

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IMG_2391
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



Behind the hall, cavernous food preparation, maintenance and storage rooms sat largely empty.

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IMG_2222
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2381
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2442
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_2377
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



In a small outbuilding, underneath the main chapel, a tiny mortuary and chapel of rest:

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Su-1907
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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IMG_1895
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



The interior of the infirmary, where a series of sprawling rooms once housed ill patients:

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Su-2491
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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Su-2495
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr



Camera batteries dead, and a bit exhausted, I took one last walk around the property, taking photos with my phone:

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20180506_160105
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




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20180506_154801
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr




...And finally, one last shot of the main building:

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20180505_172325
by Sanitarium Sean, on Flickr


Even after hours of exploring over two days, I still felt there was plenty I had missed, as many buildings remained tightly sealed. The stunning combination of architecture and natural setting, however, made this one of my favorite locations to date. Furthermore, in studying the hospital's history, I developed a special appreciation for this it's story. While it experienced periods of overpopulation, it seems to have avoided many of the mistakes that plagued countless other mental institutions. Instead of accounts of patient neglect and abuse, I found stories of hard-working staff and superintendents that genuinely cared about the health of their residents. Even in the original asylum's early days, when mental health was much less understood, the hospital was seen as a source of pride for the community, a benefit as opposed to a burden.


Not long after my visit, fences were put up around the main building as work began to redevelop the property; much of the open land will be converted to housing, while several outbuildings are slated to be demolished. Thankfully, however, the main building and infirmary will be spared, and will hopefully be re-purposed. Some aspects of the plan remain unclear, but in one form or another, this asylum will live on.


Thanks for looking!






[last edit 9/8/2018 12:47 AM by Sanitarium Sean - edited 1 times]

Mr. Bitey 


Location: Milwaukee, WI
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 125 likes


Traps the Drum Wonder

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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 1 on 9/8/2018 1:32 AM >
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Damn. Just. DAMN. Thanks for the share!




Give abandonment a reason for its sacrificial reclamation to nature. Love it. Remember it. Take a picture. Share it. Leave the decay to nature.
Pear 


Location: Austin, TX / Nashville, TN
Total Likes: 118 likes


You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 2 on 9/8/2018 2:28 AM >
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This is absolutely incredible, I saw this on my flickr feed and couldn't wait for the thread.




EsseXploreR 


Location: New Jersey
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 695 likes




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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 3 on 9/8/2018 2:39 AM >
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Cant remember the last time I saw a set this good on uer. Great stuff dude!




https://www.flickr...62837453@N07/sets/

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mookster 


Location: Oxford, UK
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 1290 likes




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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 4 on 9/8/2018 8:20 AM >
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I was looking forward to you posting this up - amazing set of shots and I'm so glad it was easily accessible for you.

It looks like I may miss the boat on this one sadly as you are right, work does appear to have begun in some capacity inside the main building.




Yes that's right I'm an actual real-life British person.
Jascha_400D 


Location: Groningen, Netherlands
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 8 likes




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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 5 on 9/9/2018 10:22 AM >
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this place looks awesome, great set of pictures!




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MisUnderstood! 


Location: SouthEast, Texas
Gender: Female
Total Likes: 1517 likes


W/MyOwnEyes

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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 6 on 9/9/2018 4:42 PM >
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Totally Amazing! Caught at precisely the right time. Congrats on such a wonderful explore. Really quite fascinating that its still in such great shape overall. Lovely captures.




A place of Mystery is Always worth a curiosity trip!
Desertify Urbex 


Location: Maine
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 143 likes




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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 7 on 9/10/2018 1:33 PM >
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Really great post and set that only got better with each shot! Such a pristine place too. Thanks for sharing this one.




Alpine7840 


Total Likes: 10 likes




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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 8 on 9/10/2018 2:00 PM >
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This set is stunning, I agree that the vivid colors deeper in the building were cool.






blackhawk 

Not an expert.


Location: High Plains Drifter
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UER newbie

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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 9 on 9/10/2018 3:50 PM >
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What an amazing complex.
Been way cool to see it before it was gutted.
Thank you for the peek at it




Like the devil in the deep blue sea...
Calvin Kaneda 


Location: West Coast Ninja/East Coast Pirate.
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 123 likes




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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 10 on 9/10/2018 5:46 PM >
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Awesome post! Super rad explore. Thanks for sharing!




"By the prick of my thumb something wicked this way comes..."
"Under the cover of night, I travel across rooftops while you dream of adventure."
Sanitarium Sean 


Location: Maine
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 232 likes




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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 11 on 9/10/2018 7:21 PM >
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Posted on Forum: UER Forum
Post by Mr. Bitey
Damn. Just. DAMN. Thanks for the share!

Post by Pear
This is absolutely incredible, I saw this on my flickr feed and couldn't wait for the thread.

Post by EsseXploreR
Cant remember the last time I saw a set this good on uer. Great stuff dude!

Post by Jascha_400D
this place looks awesome, great set of pictures!

Post by MisUnderstood!
Totally Amazing! Caught at precisely the right time. Congrats on such a wonderful explore. Really quite fascinating that its still in such great shape overall. Lovely captures.

Post by Desertify Urbex
Really great post and set that only got better with each shot! Such a pristine place too. Thanks for sharing this one.

Post by Alpine7840
This set is stunning, I agree that the vivid colors deeper in the building were cool.

Post by blackhawk
What an amazing complex.
Been way cool to see it before it was gutted.
Thank you for the peek at it

Post by Calvin Kaneda
Awesome post! Super rad explore. Thanks for sharing!


Thanks so much everybody, really glad you enjoyed it! It was quite an awesome experience, and really lucky timing. It's disappointing that it may be gutted/altered, but under the UK's historical preservation laws, it'll be next to impossible for any developer to tear it down.

Post by mookster
I was looking forward to you posting this up - amazing set of shots and I'm so glad it was easily accessible for you.

It looks like I may miss the boat on this one sadly as you are right, work does appear to have begun in some capacity inside the main building.


Thanks man, you were a big help! Even with some work started, it still very well may be worth a visit.




pincheck 


Location: Scotland
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 121 likes




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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 12 on 9/16/2018 3:48 PM >
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Yes nice report . Believe the owners are getting tired of the foot traffic going through here, along with the damage. That has taken place with boards being constantly ripped off. Due to the attention it is local explorers don't think it will survive sadly .

pics 19 and 20 was service tunnels that early explorers used to use when first closed . They had pirs that warned 2 onsite guards who would investigate and phone police when it was still owned by NHS property. They where filled in by filling in the middle of the links for that reason.



[last edit 9/16/2018 3:51 PM by pincheck - edited 1 times]

TrixieSparrow 


Location: Hamilton, ON
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Total Likes: 14 likes


I guess.

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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 13 on 9/16/2018 4:32 PM >
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Oh! Very nice!




AsylumGhost 


Gender: Male
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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 14 on 9/16/2018 7:24 PM >
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Wow im amazed places like this, in this good of a condition still exist. incredible.




TheDrummer 


Location: Southern Tier, NY
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Asbestos Addict

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Re: North Sea Asylum
< Reply # 15 on 9/16/2018 7:30 PM >
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Spectacular set! Cool to see something this large not vandalized or looted




Just gonna send it
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