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Leavesden Hospital Histopry Association
Leavesden Hospital Histopry Association

Chronological History

October 1868: The asylum's foundation stone was laid by William Henry Wyatt, J.P., Chairman of the Leavesden Asylum's Management Committee.


April 1869: Contractors, Messrs. Nicholson & Herbert were required to speed up the work under threat of a penalty clause.


June 1869: New contractor, William Henshaw, had taken over to complete the building, erect the gas works, water and sewage systems (located on the far north side of the park by the old cemetery), and lay out the gardens.


1887: Mr. G.W. Smith was appointed as the hospitals first trained, in Watford, fireman and paid a wage of 30s a week. All male attendants and staff were required to act as firemen.


March 1870: Advertisements were being drawn up for staff for the new institution. For Male and Female Attendants, laundry maids, kitchen maids, and cook, the only requirement was being able to read and write.


September 1870: The asylum was officially opened by the Bishop of Rochester who preached a sermon in the chapel, then led a procession through the main corridors of the building, and consecrated the cemetery.


October 1870: The institution admitted its first patients and one week later Dr. T. Claye Shaw, Medical Superintendent, reports to the committee that there were 100 residents.  Recreation was considered an important part of the patients’ life so £15.00 was provided to purchase playing cards, bagatelle and draughts boards.


April 1871: All the female wards were full.


October 1871: There were 739 male and 899 female patients. To cope with the numbers, storerooms on some wards had been converted to bedrooms.


1881:  The census for the population of Abbots Langley Parish was recorded as 3,643. This included 2,085 in the Metropolitan District Asylum (both staff and patients in the Leavesden Hospital), 639 in St Pancras Workhouse Orphanage and Schools and a parish population of 919.


1884: Mr. J.H. Leurcas was appointed as the farm bailiff and a sub committee formed to oversee the 42 acres of farm land and kitchen gardens.


1891: A recreation hall is erected at the east of the administration building.


April 13th, 1894: Aron Kosminsky, aka Jack the Ripper, was admitted to the hospital


1899: A shop keeper from Abbots Langley is given permission to set up a stall in the cricket pitch (north of the children’s play area) to sell eatables and misc. items.


1899: Mary Ansell, London, accused of murdering her sister, Caroline Ansell, a patient of the hospital, by means of phosphorus poisoning. Mary Ansell was hung on  Wednesday, 19th July, 1899, outside St Albans gaol just before 8 a.m. after a failed appeal to Queen Victoria. Mary Ansell was he last women to be hung in Hertfodshire County.


1902: A mortuary was built on the site of what is now the children’s play area.


1904: To this date the recreation hall and chapel were used for service and reception of the dead.


1908: The Silver Birch Cottage located across from the north cemetery was converted to a mortuary and chapel.


1908-09: Leavesden Hospital Football Club joined Herts. County League Western Division.


1915: “A” company of the 2 Division, Post Office Rifles is billeted in the Leavesden Asylum on their forward march to France.


March 24th, 1919: Aaron Kosminsky dies in Leavesden Hspital from gangrene.


1920: Renamed the Leavesden Mental Hospital


1926: Steam generators are installed to provide electric lighting to the hospital.


1931: Mains electric installed throughout the hospital.


1932: The St. Pancras Orphanage on the south side of the park closed and was annexed by the Asylum. The Metropolitan Asylum Board was disbanded and its 140 medical facilities taken over by the London County Council.  


1937: Renamed the Leavesden Hospital.


1939: Leavesden Hospital Sports and Social Club formed to foster a friendly relationship between all grades of staff. It is said that you had to be a talented footballer, cricketer or musician to be employed at the hospital.


1948-49: Leavesden Hospital becomes part of the National Health Service, which took over from the London County Council,  and designated as a mental hospital and an institution for defectives. Total number of patients being treated at the main hospital and the annex building on the south side was in excess of 3,000. It was about this time that the road in front of the hospital, Asylum Road , was renamed as College Road do to the number of teaching colleges that had been created on both sides of the road.


1951: The newly formed Abbots Langley Gilbert And Sullivan Society held their first performance of “The Makato” in the recreation hall of the hospital.


October 1995:  Closed

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©Leavesden Hospital History Association and Martin Brooks