Urban Exploration - West Park Mental Hospital
History of West Park Mental Hospital
West Park Hospital was erected by London County Council during the years 1913-1924 and officially opened on 20 June 1924. It provided for 2096 patients and was the last hospital in the programme to establish five large psychiatric and mental handicap hospitals on the Horton estate in Epsom. West Park was managed by the West Park Hospital Sub-Committee of the LCC’s Mental Hospitals Committee and was transferred to the National Health Service in July 1948, when responsibility passed to its own Hospital Management Committee under the South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board.
The architectural construction of West Park was based on a ‘colony’ design, an idea imported form America where several wards were grouped together within the same building. Each building has its own communal integrity but is linked to the others by long, connecting corridors that stretch out across the site.
In the early 1960s the Minister of Health reorganised the hospitals with the amalgamation of management committees of hospitals caring for the mentally ill with general hospital management committees. As a result, the Epsom District and West Park Hospital Management Committees were merged to form the Epsom and West Park Group Hospital Management Committee in November 1969. A review of catchment areas undertaken at the same time led to West Park losing Lambeth and Southwark, and gaining Epsom. After 1974, this process of losing the London catchment areas continued with the last part of the old London catchment areas for which it was responsible being transferred to Springfield Hospital early in 1981. West Park’s catchment area then became wholly that area covered by the Mid Surrey District.
West Park Hospital became part of the newly formed Surrey Heartlands NHS Trust in 1995 but much of the hospital is now closed, except for a few administration buildings, and awaiting re-development.