Originally designed and built by Messrs Giles, Gough and Trollope of London in 1903, The Mid Wales Hospital, originally the Brecon and Radnor Joint Counties Lunatic Asylum was a psychiatric hospital in Talgarth, Wales.
In the public opening ceremony Rt. Hon. Lord Glanusk said “everything has been done that human ingenuity could devise for the happiness and safety of the inmates, and under the blessing of God, for their speedy restoration to health.”
Initially dedicated to treating patients from the counties of Brecknockshire and Radnorshire, after the First World War, patients from Montgomeryshire were also admitted, and the ‘asylum’ was extended and renamed the Mid-Wales Counties Mental Hospital.
During the Second World War the hospital patients from Cardiff City Mental Hospital which had been requisitioned as a war hospital were transferred to Talgarth. In July 1940 it was agreed that most of the hospital should be given over to military use and most of the patients were transferred to other Welsh mental hospitals. The hospital was returned to civilian use in 1947.
In 1948 the hospital became part of the National Health Service. NHS management brought a number of innovations, including art and occupational therapy and the integration of the sexes, who had previously occupied opposite sides of the hospital. The site also became home to the Mid and West Wales College of Nursing and Midwifery and the Powys Drugs & Alcohol Council for substance misuse. Other services included treatments for the elderly mentally ill, rehabilitation and continuing care, day care, reflexology, physiotherapy, electro-convulsive therapy; chiropody and psychiatry.
Services started to wind down from the 1990 much like most of the asylums across the country mainly due to a change in attitudes towards mental healthcare. In 1999 the last wards closed. Some of the remaining facilities were then moved to the nearby Bronllys Hospital (formerly the South Wales Sanatorium)
In 2009 the site was offered for sale. By this time, several properties that once belonged to the hospital, such as the gatehouse, had been sold off and the buildings were becoming derelict. There are signs of demolition throughout the site and many of the original slates (believed to be worth in excess of £1 million) were stripped from the roofs.
Developers Collins Developments wanted to knock most of the site down and build 100 homes and a care home however local opponents said the scheme was too big and they wanted to preserve the buildings in any future redevelopment. The Road systems in particular were considered to be unsuitable for adaptation and concerns were raised over the lack of parking which would be available at the proposed site.
A spokesman for Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, said: “Following a site visit to the former Mid Wales Hospital site, members of the planning, access and rights of way committee have unanimously supported the planning officer’s recommendation to refuse this application.”
Developer Phil Collins said there was asbestos throughout the building and the only way to get at some of the underfloor segments to remove it was to knock the buildings down.
SAVE British Heritage have mounted a campaign to save the remaining building and propose for them to be incorporated into any new development plans.
Following a SAVE visit in January 2013, Graham Frecknall Architects produced a series of designs showing how the Mid-Wales Hospital could be adapted for residential use whilst retaining the majority of the original buildings. Mr Frecknall and SAVE both consider a successful scheme can be undertaken at Talgarth. He has prepared plans showing how the principal old buildings can be maintained. The scheme as shown shows 57 residential units created on the site, the majority in the old buildings, with a number of workspace units.
As of 2014 The National Assembly for Wales have discussed the future of the site in several meetings, on the 4th February the Committee considered correspondence on the petition. Although the Brecon Beacons National Park (BBNP) Committee were scheduled to consider local listing of the site on 7 February, it was understood that this had now been deferred by a month. The Committee agreed to write to BBNP asking for an update on the position.
On the 15th of April 2014 a letter was received from the Petitioner to the Clerk at the National Assembly advising “My sincere thanks to the committee for staying the course with this one. I received a similar response from the BBNP myself recently. Yet again the subject of the Mid Wales Hospital appears to have disappeared down a rabbit hole without any proper explanation. Fortunately, like the committee seemingly, patience is something I have in abundance so I am going to keep an eye on the agendas for
meetings of the BBNPA and wait for it to reappear – maybe then it will be clear why it has been deferred and why Ms Nettleton is unable or unwilling to provide an explanation at this time.”
It would appear that the next decision stands with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority who have been asked to carry out a survey in respect of local listed status of the hospital buildings, when this will happen? Who knows. In the meantime the buildings continue to deteriorate at a rapid rate since the loss of the roof slates.
Visited with Andy K of Behind Closed Doors, Pete Costello, Perjury Saint, Carl and PG UE. It was a nice day for a wander round this place some nice dramatic cloud cover with occasional breaks of sunshine provided some nice lighting whilst we were inside. I was pleasantly surprised with the state of decay this place was in, the green overgrown inside the buildings on the ceilings walls and floors made for some great subject matter for the photographs. The main hall was pretty interesting with half of the ceiling damaged, the other half still mostly intact with a clean break down the middle, again a pleasure to shoot. All in all a good day out in the depths of Wales enjoy the photos:
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