The Dark side of the Asylum

Richard, I've seen your website about Fairfield’s Hospital. It was a place that struck fear into many peoples' hearts.

I was frequently threatened with it and lived in terror of  Fairfield’s for years. Many of the staff were very cruel. They'd stick a needle in someone just because they cried.

Young people were subjected to incarceration on the basis of what their families said. I witnessed so-called nurses being very cruel.

I also knew someone who died a very suspicious death there - He was said to have fallen out of a window.

How could someone fall out when windows were fastened and security pretty tight?

On the good side, I know someone who managed to escape and got the milk train to London! I know this isn't exactly what you were looking for but it's part of the story.


Psychiatric nurses are the cruellest group of people I've ever known. I've experienced, and witnessed, patients being shouted at (also by doctors!), threatened and being physically manhandled.

After many years I still feel great fear at being at their mercy again. I was in Weller Wing  (Bedford) at the age of 17 and spent the next two and a half years in mental institutions. I was frequently threatened with Fairfield’s by staff at Weller and lived in terror of the place for many years.

I was crying one day, because of the ill treatment I was being subjected to and a nurse said to me, in front of my parents: “If  you don't stop crying, you'll have to go to Fairfield’s”

I was terrified beyond words. Many of the Weller staff had come from Fairfield’s as had some of the inmates, we often shared stories. A woman described it as a 'Gothic horror'. People were moved to Fairfield from Weller if they were deemed to be disruptive or if they were elderly. For the latter, it meant a place to die.

I visited a young girl in Fairfield’s a few times, While I was there a nurse shouted at a woman to stop ' Showing off ' when she was just happily excited by our group of visitors.

I knew a young man, in his early twenties who had problems with illicit drugs - He was sent to Fairfield’s , Not long after he arrived there the story of his death was in the papers as him having fallen from a window. As I said, I always found this suspicious.

The so-called work experience was a complete rip-off - packing tights for women and assembling electrical heaters for men. No wonder, many escapees made their way to the Blue Lagoon to drown.

I'd rather die than be put in a place like that. Fear of it led me into violent confrontations with members of my family when they also began threatening me with it (being put in Fairfield). It was often the next stage towards ending up in the secure hospital system.

I know many people who were irreparably damaged by places like Fairfield’s. Long Grove, High Royds and Friern Barnet I'm so glad those places shut down. The romantic notion that they were cosy places is mainly held by those who were never in them or those who worked in them, and they were often sadists.

I don't know if you aware, and it should be a part of any history of these places, that many people in mental hospitals were and are, victims of abuse. I was one of them. Abused at home, then being called “ MAD “ because psychiatrists believed these were 'made up' stories and locked us up.


I got involved in antipsychiatry way back in the 70s and have been active in trying to change things ever since. I was a volunteer advocate for many years, trying to repair some of the damage done by the kind of people who work as nurses, psychiatrists and social workers at places like Fairfields and Weller Wing. Yes, I was in Weller and other places in the 70’s But things don't change that much. Problem is, people who desire power over the vulnerable will always be attracted to jobs like psychiatric nursing. You say that not many instances of malpractice are recorded, but, then who would believe someone labelled mentally ill?

This is something I've come across numerous times in the past 35 years. I was in an adolescent mental health unit in London where one of the charge nurses was having an affair with one of the girls and he also had a serious alcohol problem. As you know this is strictly against all the ethical codes of such jobs. He was caught out by one of the other nurses but all that happened was that he went into “therapy” with the medical director and kept his job.

If the profession was to have any credibility, he'd have been sacked on the spot. The deputy warden of the rehabilitation hostel I was in, was sexually abusing several of the youngsters there, both boys and girls. Fortunately for me, I wasn't one of her victims, though she was a vicious tongued woman who had a go at me that way. I can only hope her victims are dealing with the legacy of her abuse as best they can. This kind of thing has been rampant in the British mental health system for years.

Nutters don't tell the truth after all, do they?! I fear the truth will never fully come out because of this strange love affair the British public has with the NHS. However, we must live in hope, for the historical abuse of children by some clergy in the Catholic church is now coming out.

People must be free to talk about their experiences. Once again, don't worry about anything. It is my choice to speak about my experiences and I do, openly.


A Very big thank you to the people who have come forward with their personal  views and story’s of their time at Fairfield’s

They shall remain nameless to protect their identities.

I went to work at Fairfield Hospital in 1983, I was 16 years old on one of  Maggie Thatcher's YTS Schemes, My god I’m 40 yrs old now and I never realised people could be so cruel in all my life

No different to a Nazi concentration camp in my view, except in a Nazi camp you got to get gassed!

Fairfield Hospital is the cruellest place I've ever had to witness in my life, Women in there 70's back in 83 put away for years because they had a baby out of wedlock, patients tied in chairs drugged up with largatil ….Shame on society