Abandoned in the Black Mountains of Wales, Talgarth Asylum exudes both an institutional grandeur and deeply unsettling atmosphere. But the ornate stonework and boarded-up windows are a bleak reminder of a time when care of the mentally ill was more about longterm isolation and crude experimental techniques than progressive therapy. In this article we’ll take a photographic tour of the abandoned insane asylum, taking in dark corridors and grand halls.
Located near a small town of the same name, Talgarth Asylum was built in 1903 to house 352 patients. Originally called the Brecon and Radnor Joint Asylum, it became the Mid Wales Hospital in 1921 and was built in an echelon, or “compact arrow“, style, allowing for quick movement between any two points of the 200,000 square foot hospital.
Patient numbers were bolstered by military personnel during World War One, many suffering from shell shock, while World War Two brought both psychiatric patients and prisoners of war. Severe overcrowding led to the construction of two additional wards by 1955 and a new treatment block was in place a decade later. But despite the asylum’s passage into the era of modern medicine by the latter decades of the 20th century, new health legislation led to its closure by the mid 1990s.
The 43 acre site, which includes extensive hospital buildings, five large family houses, a tennis court, cricket pitch and chapel, was reportedly disposed of several years ago in a controversial sale for around £355,000. Since then, the buildings have fallen into ruin with signs of demolition across the site. But the remaining buildings, with their period grandeur coupled with a grim institutional reality, are a foreboding reminder of Talgarth Asylum’s history.
Explore more on Black Mountains urbex and the BBC’s Mid Wales resource. For a detailed report – including an insight into the stunning craftsmanship of many of Talgarth’s features – don’t miss this post on the 28 Days Later urbex forum. Finally, thanks to D-Kay2009 whose photos are featured in this article. See more of his work, including photographic tutorials, at Talk Urbex.