St Georges Morpeth
Originally called the Northumberland County Pauper Lunatic Asylum, St Georges Hospital was designed by the Architect Henry Welch to a corridor plan layout. The asylum which opened for the reception of the pauper insane back in 1859 was built at a cost of £58000 and saw 154 patients admitted in the first year.
By the time Jack the Ripper was mounting his murderous campaign in 1888 the asylum population had increased to 511 as additional accommodation was added. Apparently in 1890 the rather unsavoury title of pauper lunatic asylum was dropped in favour of the title of “County Mental Hospital” which was ahead of its time as most other asylums only dropped the lunatic asylum title in the 1920’s.
The site picked to build on was formerly agricultural land, which was in keeping with its working farm status within the asylum. Patients who worked the land had to rise at 4am every morning rain or shine either as occupational therapy or indeed to keep the running costs of the institution down. The farm was in operation right up until 1974.
There was at one time an intention also to have its own coal mine in addition to various other trades such as a cobblers, tailors and upholsterers shops. However coal prices dropped dramatically and it was deemed impracticable even though the labour was free. The name St Georges was adopted in 1937 much to the delight of both staff and patients alike.
No doubt one of the more exciting incidents to occur at the hospital was in 1942 when a German Bomber crash landed within the hospital grounds.
The old asylum closed its doors in 1995 and was sold to English Partnerships for future housing and business developments. The new purpose-built St George’s Park, located within the grounds of the old St George’s Hospital, has now replaced the existing sprawling, part Victorian built institution. In 2014 the former asylum lies in a derelict state.