FORGOTTEN and lost histories of life at two of East Lancashire’s mental institutions are being sought for a new project.

Pathways Associates, a health and social care consultancy in Accrington, is appealing for people to come forward with any personal histories they might have of Calderstones Hospital or Brockhall Certified Institution to form part of the project.


Bosses hope to secure money from the Heritage Lottery Fund to hold an exhibition complete with old photographs and documents about life at the hospitals.

The social history will also be made available through a new website and a booklet will also be produced recounting the histories of people linked to the two large long-stay institutions.

Work has already started with Lancashire County Council’s museums, archives and libraries as well as former staff, residents and their families.

Calderstones Hospital was founded in 1915 as ‘Queen Mary’s Military Hospital’ before becoming Whalley Asylum and then Calderstones Hospital.

Brockhall Hospital was built in 1904 as an Inebriate Women’s Reformatory, later becoming a hospital for people with learning disabilities.

They were closed in the early 1990s as part of the government’s care in the community policy.

A spokesman for the project said: “The history of people with learning difficulties, and those involved in their lives, is one which is often hidden away and forgotten.

“Yet for most of the 20th Century this part of Lancashire had two of the largest long-stay hospitals for people with learning difficulties in the United Kingdom.

“Literally thousands of individuals, whether as residents or staff, passed through the respective doors of these local institutions.”

“What life was like for these people, as well as families, is largely under-recorded with the existing heritage landscape dominated by the official records.”

Whalley resident Mel Diack, who has researched into the history of the old Calderstones Hospital and nearby graveyard, said: “It’s wonderful that this group has started this project and I hope it gets off the ground.”

“All credit to them as the information that will be collated will be very valuable and worth preserving for the future.

“I hope that they get the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

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