Barnsley Hall

Barnsley Hall Hospital, Bromsgrove


Hospital Name: Barnsley Hall
Previous Names: Barnsley Hall Asylum, Worcestershire Mental Hospital, Barnsley Hall Mental Hospital, Barnsley Hall Hospital for Nervous and Mental Diseases.
Location: Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
Principal Architect: George Thomas Hine
Layout: Compact Arrow (echelon)
Status: Demolished (admin, chapel and lodges remain)
Opened: 1907
Closed: 1996


As Worcestershire’s first County Asylum, Powick (1852), had reached capacity, a 327 hectare site was acquired at Bromsgrove in 1899 for a second one to serve the north of the county.

The competition for the design of the asylum was won by Britain’s most prolific asylum designer George Thomas Hine. It shares many design features with his other works, particularly the Kesteven County Asylum at Rauceby (1902) and 2nd Surrey County Asylum, Netherne (1909), being of red brick with stone dressing. The layout is a compact arrow (echelon) plan linked by brick corridors, which is largely symmetrical save for two slightly larger dormitories on the female side. The admin block was attractive despite missing the usual clock-tower associated with Hine’s asylums, but the water tower was among the finest examples of his or any other asylum design, an imposing gothic tower of red brick with sandstone and terracotta dressing, crenellations, and a small spire on each corner.

Built for 705 patients, including those accommodated in the detached admissions block, Barnsley Hall Asylum was opened on 26th June 1907. It got its name from the great hall of the local family of the same name which once stood upon the site, and had been demolished in 1771.

Like many asylums, Barnsley Hall was called into use as a war hospital during WW2, with 3 wards being given over to war use and patients being decanted to other wards or relocated elsewhere. There were also 30 temporary wards erected within the grounds during this period, taking soldiers from the frontlines as well as civilian casualties from the air-raids on the industrialised areas nearby, including Bromsgrove itself, the area being targeted due to its heavy manufacturing role.

With numerous expansions, including a secure unit known as Ponderosa, the population reached around 1,200 during the 1950’s.

Its official title became the ‘Worcestershire Mental Hospital’ in 1929 before a very brief change to Barnsley Hall Mental Hospital in 1948, and then Barnsley Hall Hospital for Nervous and Mental Diseases in 1949 upon inclusion into the NHS, before finally settling on just ‘Barnsley Hall Hospital’ in 1967.

In 1976 the asylum came under scrutiny when it was reported that fire exit doors were routinely kept locked.

In 1980, a Charge Nurse at Barnsley Hall named John Whitehouse was sentenced to six months in prison for poisoning two colleagues.

Barnsley Hall closed in 1996 with the transfer of its final 45 patients to community-based accommodation.

By 1999 the land formerly used by the asylum was sold and listed as an official ‘Area of Development Restraint’, earmarked for housing use. This saw all the original buildings except the lodges, admin block, chapel and one airing court shelter demolished, with the site renamed ‘Woodland Grange’. A battle by the Water Tower Appreciation Society as well as the local council to save the unusually ornate tower was fought off by the Laing/McAlpine partnership who redeveloped the site, and it too went in April 2000. Local press reported the day the water tower was demolished, lorry drivers on the nearby M5 stopped on the hard shoulder to watch, as this landmark building that had been a feature of their trips up and down the country for all of their driving careers.

The one preserved airing court shelter (originally a feature of the male epileptic airing court) began to fall into disrepair and was dismantled, renovated and relocated to Avoncroft Museum at Stoke Heath, Bromsgrove, where it now provides shelter for museum visitors.

External Photos

County Asylums has kindly been given permission to post photographs of his of Barnsley Hall Hospital before demolition.

Barnsley Hall Hospital
James Pratt

With thanks to Andrew Dyer for the following photos from 2021

Internal Photos

With thanks to Andrew Dyer for the following photos



Hospital records can be found at Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service:

Additional Links of interest:

British Water Tower Appreciation Society – Barnsley Hall Hospital

Avoncroft Museum – Airing Court Shelter Restoration and Relocation


We do not have any information on the burials at this hospital. It is possible that the land behind/adjacent to the chapel was used but this is only speculation based on looking at aerial maps.


13 responses to “Barnsley Hall”

  1. I worked as a student way back in 1980 at the Barnsley Hall Hospital. Very intriguing buildings. Eery but also beautiful. Shame about it being demolished though.

  2. Sadly my cousin Robert Jackson passed away last week, he was a patient for many years at Barnsley hall and at the time of its closure was moved to Keith winter close, then Tudor lodge, he was in the mental health system for over 40 years, rip rob x

  3. hello I am looking for information regarding a great aunt who would have been admitted here between 1957 and 1962. If you know of anyone who was a patient at this time and has information I would be very grateful. Thank you

  4. I worked at Barnsley Hall Hospital in 1982 as a contractor (Heating engineer), looking at these photographs brings back many memories

  5. I started as care assistant in 1971 and eventually took my RMN in 1976. Worked there until 1981-2 I know all those buildings very well. Many fond memories.

  6. I was a patient there when Zi was about 5, I dont remember much, I remember the wards we?re mixed as a young girl older than me was in a bed in front of me and she was saying you cant do that, I decided id had enough and was getting dressed to leave, then it goes blank, I was in there round 1973 or 1974, I know one thing when we dove past that place I recognized it every time, for me not so happy times.

  7. What happened to the underground tunnels at Barnsley Hall? Were they filled in when the hospital was demolished?

  8. My mother was here in the sixties. One of the doctors committed his wife there and refused to release her, so she was there for life.

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