Whats On
Visit Us
Contact Us
Support Us
Tell Us

History of Psychiatry in Bristol (5)

Glenside after 1945

Click for larger

Bristol Mental Hospital in 1954

On May 8th 1945, V.E Day, patients and staff assembled in the CinemaHall to hear Churchill declare the end of the war in Europe.  There was an atmosphere of almost unbearable anticipation.  Everywhere there was joyful turmoil.  Bells, the wartime heralds of invasion, had not been heard for 5 years.  The Fishponds Tower clock had struck neither hour nor quarter since muted for the Great War in 1914.  At 3pm Henry Adams , the Hospital engineer, climbed into the belfry and manually struck the victory chime.  This was their final peal.  They were sold in 1952 and the clock was replaced by an electric timepiece.  There followed dancing and a celebratory bonfire in the grounds of the Nurses Home. On the next day reality returned.  And it showed.  The patients – men in particular – were looking very shabby.  Clothes and footwear were getting scarce.

There was continuing overcrowding– the average patient population in 1945 was 1222 – but relief in social conditions was promised when Barrow Hospital returned to City control.

The Board of Control paid tribute to the spirit of progress in Fishponds whilst expressing disquiet about overcrowding.  The hospital resources were strained to the limit, sanitary and toilet facilities were ‘painfully inadequate’.  Patients clothing continued to deteriorate.  Clinical evaluation, physical and mental, was lauded by the Commissioners.  The InsulinDepartment treated 59 patients in 1946, pre-frontal leucotomy was carried out on 32 patients.  New machines for electro-convulsive treatments were introduced.  Electro-narcosis was found to be ineffective and potentially dangerous and was abandoned. Penicillinhad arrived. Therapeutic malariahad had its day.  In Barrow Hospital preparations proceeded for its return to civilian occupation in Autumn 1946.  

The Arrival of the NHS in 1948 kept Barrow and Fishponds Hospital under one joint management. BarrowHospital expanded rapidly.  Supported by excellent medical staff and growing facilities it provided an increasingly good clinical service.  Fishponds Hospital  struggled to survive, whilst adhering to its imposed commitments.  In 1951 Barrow Hospital with its 290 beds had 5 Consultants, three S.H.M.O.’s, one J.H.M.O., two Senior Registrars and four Registrars – 15 in all (one doctor for .  In Fishponds the Bristol Mental Hospital with its 1172 beds had 1 Consultant, one S.H.M.O., one J.H.M.O. and two S.H.O.  This pattern of resource allocation continued for many years.

The 1950's saw the introduction of the Phenothiazine drugs with Chlorpromazine, the first drug that actively changed the hallucinations and delusions of people with schizophrenia.

A new ward was opened in 1956 at Fishponds. Named  Prichard, it was built to house the elderly but was used as a decant ward and then as an admission ward, which it still is, renamed Oakwood House.

The 1959 Mental Health Act changed the law of mental treatment, so a patient was expected to be admitted voluntarily. it also removed the word 'mental' from hospital names - so the Bristol Mental Hospital became Glenside Hospital.

Extra hospital practice continued to grow.  Out-patient departments established in Southmeadand in FrenchayGeneral Hospital were always busy as were requests for in-patient consultations in these and other general hospitals.  GP consultations were established in Southmead Health Centre.  In 1962 Derek Russell-Davis, was appointed to the Chair of Mental Health in Bristol University.  He established an under graduate teaching unit in Glensidewhich although it took little part in the corporate life of the hospital it added an exciting element in the teaching of undergraduates.

In 1957 seven patients started to work in a ball-point pen assembly unit at Glenside.  Thus started Industrial Therapy in Bristol, and spread to the rest of the country.  It would not have been possible without Mr John Turley, a businessman who supported it, and it was such a success that the industrial therapy unit grew and grew.  As more patients were actively employed during the daytime so their rehabilitation prospered and the discharge rate grew.  Out of this and its network was founded I.T.O. (Industrial Therapy Organisation) which only in 2003 stopped trading.

Morale grew at Glenside in the 1960's with the changes and improvements.  In the 1980's though the closure of Glenside was planned. The patients were discharged or moved into new buildings, built at Southmead Hospital,  or closer to hand behind or on the next door Stapleton Institution, now called Manor Park Hospital. The Victorian Asylum Buildings closed by 1994 to be reoccupied by the University of the West of England for its campus for Health and Social Studies. The name Glenside Hospital was abolished and the new amalgam of wards ranging from Oakwood House to the new Forensic unit and Manor Park Hospital were renamed Blackberry Hill Hospital.





Copyright Glenside Hospital Museum, all rights reserved.
Last updated: 01/31/12.