The first superintendent, James Moody, was knighted for his psychiatric work and, following his death in 1915, he was succeeded by Dr George Lilly who retired in 1949. In the post-war period, Cane Hill’s superintendent for twenty-three years was the eminent psychiatrist Dr Alexander Walk (1901-1982). Walk was renowned for his scholarship and was an authority on the history of British psychiatry.
During its lengthy period of operation, many notable patients passed through the doors of Cane Hill – these include Charlie Chaplin‘s mother, and the brothers of Michael Caine and David Bowie. Bowie’s album The Man Who Sold The World featured the administration block of Cane Hill on its sleeve. At its peak, the hospital housed almost 2,000 patients.