Keeping Us in Mind – Epsom Cluster Oral History

Keeping Us in Mind is an oral history project, led by Love Me Love My Mind in partnership with Surrey History Centre and Bourne Hall Museum. It is entirely led by volunteers, and will run from February to December 2017. The Epsom cluster consisted of five hospitals (link to information elsewhere on the site), built between 1899 and 1927. Over the years tens of thousands of people lived and worked in them, and they fundamentally changed the town’s geography and economy, as they were a huge employer and many new houses were built to accommodate the staff who moved to Epsom to work in them. Staff came from all over the world, making the town unusually diverse.

From the early 1990s, under the government’s Care in the Community policy, the hospitals all closed down. This project builds on earlier oral history interviews conducted by Bourne Hall Museum, and aims to explore what the hospitals meant to the people who lived and worked in them, and what they still mean for the town today. To date the project team have recorded almost 40 interviews with former staff and patients, and with people who lived in the town and remember them.

Many former staff have come forward for interview, and their memories have provided a fascinating insight into what life was like. Sadly it has been more difficult to interview former patients, so their perspective is often missing, or only glimpsed in the stories of others. The project team will continue to try to address this as it is a vital part of the historical record.

That’s Surrey TV interviewed Kirstie Arnould (Keeping Us in Mind) and Julian Pooley (Surrey History Centre) about the oral history project and Surrey’s mental health institutions. Watch the interview by clicking on the YouTube link below.

Listen to Recordings Here

If you would like to record an interview, please email: [email protected]

Read more about the Epsom Cluster.

Click on the following links to see the exhibition panels created by the project team: