Built in the 1840s, Denbigh Asylum was the first psychiatric institution in Wales, UK. It became the North Wales Hospital and grew in size over the decades, adding a chapel, farm, bakery and even a brewery. By the 1950s the asylum housed over 1,500 patients and provided employment for hundreds of local people until its phased closure was completed in 2002. The abandoned site is now protected by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.
Denbigh Asylum’s historic main building was notably imposing, beautiful and expensive to maintain. After it was closed in 1995, metal looting, vandalism and fire quickly led to the deterioration of its Grade II listed structure. Although the site was bought and planning permission was sought to convert the Victorian building in to apartments and offices, work by the owners was not undertaken. More recently, Denbighshire council have conducted over £800,000 of emergency repairs and are allegedly planning to compulsorily purchase the hospital.
In 2008, the abandoned asylum was featured on a Halloween special episode of ‘Most Haunted Live!’ As well as filming eerie areas such as the mortuary, two individuals were portrayed sitting in separate padded cells and wearing straitjackets designed for the dangerously insane. While treatments such as pre-frontal lobotomy and electro convulsive ‘shock’ therapy have been performed at the hospital, the asylum’s existence appears to have left a positive impression on many of its ex-patients and staff as a respectful historical society has been formed.
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