Prestwich Hospital was built as a result of the Lunatics Act 1845. A second act passed in the same year made it compulsory for counties to build an asylum for pauper lunatics.
In 1846 the Quarter Session magistrates decided to build the new asylum in the Salford Hundred. A site was purchased at Prestwich Woods from Oswald Milne, a Manchester solicitor in 1847 for the sum of £11,412-4s-5d. It was intended for 500 lunatics or the "morally depraved" as they were known. Century House was the first part that was built.
The newly built asylum received 350 patients at its opening on Jan 1851. But the site was eventually to accommodate over 3000 residents, a number not imagined by Parliament in 1845. Extensive enlargements and re-building had to be made in order to house and maintain patients, staff and artisans.
In 1853 additional provision was made increasing the total accommodated to 500. The first extensive enlargement was finished in 1864. Two wards built to house 564 patients were opened increasing capacity to 1000 places. An annex known as Clifton House was also built in 1883, around 1.2 km away from the main complex. A road ran through the grounds to connect them. It was built as a result of a smallpox outbreak and held 860 female patients.
In December of 1922, Prestwich was renamed the County Mental Hospital and was administered by the Lancashire Asylums Board (later renamed to Mental Hospital Board).
In 1930 the Mental Treatment Act was passed into law. This Act tried a more therapeutic outlook. Patients could apply for voluntary admission. Boards were encouraged to make provision for outpatients and this brought psychiatry into the community and in a small way lessened the stigma of mental illness. Voluntary patients could be received without reception orders, discharge themselves and decide not to accept treatment.
When the National Health Service (NHS) formed in 1948, administration of the hospital passed to Manchester Regional Hospital Board, and then to Salford Mental Health Services in 1974.
We hold record for 1851 to 1974, including these patient records (access to most is restricted):
- patient casebooks 1891 to 1913
- private patients casebooks - males 1851 to 1905, females 1890 to 1924, index 1885 to 1919
- chronic patients casebooks - males 1857 to 1914, females 1855 to 1904
- notice of death books 1891 to 1960, registers of deaths 1894 to 1948, death books addresses of relatives and friends 1940 to 1964
- admissions registers 1891 to 1951
- civil registers - certified male patients 1907 to 1935, certified female patients 1907 to 1948, voluntary patients 1935 to 1948, temporary patients 1941 to 1948, registers of removals discharges and deaths 1893 to 1906
- discharge registers 1893 to 1946, registers of departures discharges and transfers 1907 to 1945, registers of departures discharges and deaths 1949 to 1973, register of patients discharged to friends 1909 to 1926
- escape books 1851 to 1860, 1891 to 1970
- index books 1893 to 1974, index books, transfers to Rochdale Workhouse (females) 1893 to 1917
Admission registers 1851 to 1891 are held by Lancashire Archives in Preston.
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