Urban Exploration - Talgarth Asylum
The building, designed by Messrs Giles, Gough and Trollope of London followed the compact arrow plan and was built at a cost of £126,000. It was opened amid public ceremony on March 18, 1903, by the Rt. Hon. Lord Glanusk who said of it "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." Like other contemporary institutions, the asylum was designed to be self-sufficient, and had its own private water, electricity, heating and sewerage systems as well as a considerable agricultural estate on which able-bodied patients worked to produce food for the hospital. As well as residential wards, the hospital had a large recreation and dining hall, kitchens, workshops "in which the patients [were] encouraged to spend their time profitably", a tailor, bakery, shoe-maker and printing shops as well as 8 acres of market gardens
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 took in 67 male and 48 female patients from Cardiff City Mental Hospital which had been requisitioned as a war hospital. 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. With the advent of 'Care in the Community' and changing attitudes towards mental healthcare, services at the hospital were wound down during the 1990s and the last wards closed in 1999. Some facilities moved into nearby Bronllys Hospital (formerly the South Wales Sanitorium)
Following closure, the buildings and surrounding estate were sold to the former Chief Medical Officer for just £227,000. Plans were subsequently made to redevelop the site as business park, and indeed several buildings were converted and occupied by local companies as part of the "Black Mountains Business Park". However, due to the site's isolated location and the global recession, the venture failed and only one or two businesses remained on the site by early 2009.
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.