The development of Middlesbrough itself is largely a product of industrialisation. Before this time Middlesbrough had comprised a farmstead and estate which was purchased by Quaker businessman with a view to providing a port and new town. Growth of the settlement increased substantially when the Stockton and Darlington Railway was extended there and this was followed by the development of Middlesbrough docks. Up to the Local government act of 1889, Middlesbrough remained administratively part of the county of Yorkshire, North Riding who also took patients from the area at the asylum at Clifton.
Aside from being very remote from the Middlesbrough population the creation of the County Borough, meant that it was now necessary for the corporation to supply their own accommodation and the North Riding County Council were unwilling to enter into a contract to continue housing these inmates.
From 1894 a site was developed at Marton Road on farmland and adjacent to the North Eastern Railway’s Middlesbrough and Guisborough line where a siding was provided although no passenger facilities were to be available on the site for another 120 years with the opening of the James Cook station.
The plan for what was to be the known as the Cleveland Asylum was provided by Charles Henry Howell, a fellow of the Royal Institute for British Architects and Consultant Architect to the Commissioners in Lunacy, in which one of his roles was to assess and select from submissions to asylum design competitions. Howell had also had a lengthy career and was a renowned architect in his own right having designed Surrey County Hall at Kingston upon Thames in 1893, having been the County Surveyor to that Authority since 1860. His first notable asylum commission had been the new or 2nd Surrey County Asylum at Knaphill (1862-1867), followed by the Berkshire and East Riding County Asylums (1868-1870 and 1868-1871 respectively) all developed to the dominant ‘corridor plan’ of the time. Along with subsequent additions to the Surrey and Berkshire Asylums where sizeable expansions were provided by Howell, his practice provided plans for the 3rd Surrey County Asylum at Coulsdon (1880-1883) and its subsequent expansion once transferred to the London County Council (1889). This design differed substantially from its earlier counterparts in so much as a prototype radiating pavilion plan was used largely successfully and was influential in the development of the new Compact Arrow plan which was to revolutionalise asylum planning for the next 40 years.
Howells plans for the asylum were to be based upon this new compact arrow plan, used firstly to great acclaim at George Hine’s Claybury Asylum for the London County Council. Unlike Claybury, the population served was significantly smaller and only two blocks on either side were required initially, although extension were accommodated in the design. The layout was typical with a prominent administration block and services unit separating male and female departments enclosed by ward blocks in an echelon formation and linked by an extensive corridor system. The main facade faced south west across a broad area of greensward separating the complex from Marton Road. Lodges were provided at each gate and a row of cottages for married attendants were included. The superintendent was provided with a substantial residence to the southeast of the main building with its own private garden. To the rear of the main complex stood the mortuary and boiler house adjacent to the railway siding. Finally a detached chapel was provided adjacent to the north drive and tucked away in the north east corner of the site an Isolation hospital was provided for inmates with contagious illness.
Howell stepped down from the project part way through the development and passed the role on to Alfred J Wood of London. Although this was Wood’s first attributed asylum commission, much of the design for the main building and superintendent’s house appears to follow designs typical of Howell’s style whilst various buildings within the grounds and particularly the lodges and housing are more typical of Wood’s style. It seems likely that Wood therefore oversaw the implementation of the plans developed by Howell for the main complex whilst ancillary structures were designed later under his own hand. Wood was to later provide additions to the male annexe of the Norfolk County Asylum at Thorpe St. Andrew (1899-1903) and the Newport Borough Asylum at Caerleon, Monmouthshire (1902-1906).
The complex was completed in 1898 finally allowing Middlesbrough inmates to be transferred from the North Riding Asylum. Lunatics were also taken in from wards within the local poor law institutions although many of those whose illness had been long untreated were considered to have poor curative prospects. Soon into the new century two new blocks were added as had been envisaged within the original plan and blocks to house chronic inmates were erected to the rear on either side of the main complex. The location of the blocks also gave convenient access to the areas such as the laundry, for women and workshops, for men where such persons could be usefully employed to supplement the asylum economy.
By 1913 a consortium of Poor Law Unions, including those of Middlesbrough formed the Northern Counties Joint Committee and purchased the Prudhoe Hall estate in County Durham for the purpose of providing dedicated accommodation and occupational provision for persons considered to be suffering from mental deficiency and was one of the earliest such dedicated establishments in public ownership. From the abolition of the Poor Law Authorities in 1930, the Committee was formed of Joint membership of the corresponding local authorities of which Middlesbrough Borough Council was part.
One of the impacts of the Great War on the Middlesbrough Asylum was that a number of institutions were cleared of the populations which were dispersed between neighbouring asylums. The Newcastle upon Tyne City Asylum was designated as suitable for adaption for military purposes and became the Gosforth War Hospital. Newcastle’s inmates were relocated to numerous sites throughout the North East and Yorkshire including a contingent housed at Middlesbrough and returned after the war.
During the interwar period adaptations were made to the Isolation to provide a new admissions unit and a new nurse’s home was added between the female wings and the Superintendent’s residence. This block was hit by a bomb during World War II which resulted in fatalities, although the building was reconstructed afterwards.
With the creation of the National Health Service, the hospital became known as St. Luke’s and developments during the 1950’s included a number of new inpatient villas and modernisation of the main building. Only during the 1950’s did the local area begin to become developed as housing development began to occupy farmland around the site. Through the 1960’s and 70’s the inpatient population dropped as new therapies and drug regimes avoided the need for long stay admissions and the hospital adopted a progressive regime of unlocking wards and mixing gender accommodation. The wards and villas were renamed after rivers and cathedral towns and were redecorated to give a more homely impression.
During the late 1970’s plans were formed for the development for a new district general hospital to be built on the southeast area of the hospital grounds, the first phases of this were opened as the South Cleveland General Hospital in 1980, with the St. Luke’s hospital forming the psychiatric wing, but remaining largely independent of the general unit. After this time St. Luke’s began moving toward a model of community management of long stay and elderly patients and various functions were removed, including closure of the detached chapel although most local services remained based at the hospital. The neighbouring general hospital was expanded significantly becoming a regional centre for many specialities and was renamed the James Cook University hospital with the North Riding Infirmary and Middlesbrough General Hospitals closing.
Although St. Luke’s had survived the mass closure of the former asylums of the 1980’s and 90’s the accommodation provided was considered unsuited to modern requirements, inflexible and expensive to maintain. Services were by this time concentrated in the main building and the Nurse’s home and the villas to the north of the site were demolished, with their site remaining vacant for some years.
Plans for a replacement complex on the St Luke’s site were developed and the new hospital, Rosebery Park, was constructed on the site of the Chapel and villas at the north of the site. Once the new building opened, the services provided from St. Luke’s were decanted into it and the old asylum building vacated in 2009-2010.
After transfer of services to Rosebery Park, the main building was soon demolished and the part of the site used for new NHS administrative buildings. Of the main complex the gardens department, mortuary, former Superintendent’s house and the former female chronic ward block survive in NHS use. Bath and Wells Villas outlasted the rest of the hospital but have since been demolished. Both lodges and staff cottages on Marton Road, although the latter have been sold and much of the area between the road and site of the hospital is undergoing redevelopment.