Keeping Us in Mind – Sites of Memory

Exhibtion panel 5

The Fragility of life

I would like people to know it’s not forever.” Sheila, patient at Horton, 1960s.

I used to be left traipsing up and down in a little corridor. I was just so lonely.” Mandy, patient at The Manor between the ages of 5 and 8, 1960s.

I experienced life at Horton as it was beginning to close little by little. The whole site gave the impression that time had no meaning, past met present, met future. Time and space to take stock before moving on with the hurly burly of modern life.

Life was hard there at times, there was prejudice and misconceptions and personal pain. My locker and my bed my only true space, but I fell privileged to have known life at Horton for the space of a year.” Hazel, patient in 1987

Photo: Mark Davis

Photo: Mark Davis

Certain symbols of the treatment of people with mental illness exert a hold on the popular imagination, and the cell at West Park appears in many urban explorer photographs taken after the hospital closed.

Several of our interviewees referred to the padded cell being used for ‘seclusion’. One former patient remembers being placed in one, under sedation, on admission to Horton in 1964.

Dan’s experiences at Long Grove

The entrance to Long Grove Hospital c.1985. Photo: John Lavery

The entrance to Long Grove Hospital c.1985. Photo: John Lavery

The best thing that ever happened to me was being a patient at Long Grove. It made me aware of the fragility of life, the reality of mental health for everyone.

Dan Jacobson was admitted to the Adolescent Unit in the 1980s. He is now a university professor in Canada.

The treatment Dan received, together with the long-term support of his family, meant that the outcome was positive for him, although sadly he found out later that this wasn’t the case for all his contemporaries.

He questions:

What would my options be now if I was 15 and in the same scenario?

Dan describes revisiting the site of Long Grove after it closed, and his strong views about the current use of the site.

A patient and a nurse remember ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) being administered on the ward.

Mandy was admitted to The Manor in the 1960s as child of six or seven. She found it a lonely experience.

Mandy recalls that the food wasn’t adequate in either quality or quantity, and the children were sometimes hungry.

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