St Mary’s (Stannington)

St Mary's Hospital, Stannington


Hospital Name: St. Mary’s Hospital, Stannington
Previous Names: Gateshead Borough Asylum, Stannington War Hospital, Stannington Mental Hospital
Location: North Saltwick, near Stannington, Northumberland
Principal Architect: George Thomas Hine with Hallam Carter-Pegg
Layout: Compact Arrow
Status: Partially converted to housing
Opened: 1914
Closed: 1995


Under the reforms imposed by the Local government Act of 1889, Gateshead became a county borough within it’s own right, administratively independent from the County of Durham and within the next twenty years it became evident that pressures for space at the county’s Sedgfield asylum would lead to the end of contracts with the new Gateshead authority. By 1910 Gateshead corporation had purchased part of the isolated West Duddo estate west of the Village of Stannington in the neighbouring county of Northumberland and were to engage George Hine and Carter-Pegg as architect for the new 500 capacity asylum to be built there. The asylum would be the last project to be completed by Hine during his lifetime.

The structures were in typical Hine style of red brick with yellow brick banding, multiple-paned sashes, concrete lintels and with grey slate roofs. The principal ward blocks were positioned en-echelon facing plantations to the south separated by the recreation hall, with male and female departments and services to the east and west respectively and separated by central services flanked by three-storey staff blocks. The administration block, similar in style to those already existing at East Sussex and Hertfordshire asylums faced out onto a formal green space with various access routes to the chapel and isolation hospital, superintendent’s residence and main entrance. The main drive and gates formed part of a patte d’oie arrangement with spur routes leading to the main hospital, six pairs of married staff cottages residence and farmland enforcing the self contained nature of the site.

Almost as soon as the asylum was opened, it was requisitioned by the military for the duration of World War I. Following the end of its war duties the site was returned to Gateshead who added a nurse’s home in 1927-8 and modified the isolation hospital to form a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. Further pressure on the County Durham mental hospital led to a union with the neighbouring county boroughs of West Hartlepool and South Shields during the 1930’s. The joint funding and demand for further space provided impetus for major additions to the Stannington site which would be completed in 1939. Built in plain red brick with slate rooves, the new units provided ten further pairs of staff cottages, two additional blocks flanking the main building, male and female detached working chronic blocks and a large admission and treatment hospital with convalescent villas at the north of the site.

World War II led to the development of a hutted Emergency medical services hospital (later the Burnholme unit) to the north of the admission unit, which was also requisitioned. Peacetime brought about the creation of the National health service, under which the hospital became known as St. Mary’s – named after the Stannington parish church. The hutted emergency hospital was converted to house mental defectives. Limited development under the NHS consisted of a new staff training school and a number of prefabricated units providing social and occupational therapy facilities.

Resettlement and closure led to retraction of wards and services back into the main building, with the areas to the north closing first. Despite the hospitals remote location, and considerable distance from it’s catchment area, it remained open as late as 1995 when most surviving facilities were relocated to Bensham General Hospital.

After the closure, the site remained undeveloped for many years with the majority of structures intact with the exception of the Burnholme unit, whose hutted buildings were demolished. The main hospital grounds were listed Grade II due to their largely unaltered layout.

The hospital buildings themselves were?subsequently?stripped in anticipation of conversion?to housing with utilitarian structures and later additions being cleared. This did not occur, however, and the majority of the remaining structures were demolished with exception of the administration block, chapel, former superintendent’s residence the former having been refurbished for use as a pub-restaurant and the latter as a private residence.

External Photos

Pictures taken from 1995 (Credit: Pete A)


Internal Photos



14 responses to “St Mary’s (Stannington)”

  1. Just to let everyone know….as of 25/10/15 – only the chapel, Ashley House and two other out-buildings survive. The entire of the main hospital including water tower (excluding the now converted small admin building) has been demolished un-expectedly, after years of stripping and making safe for conversion into apartments. Very very sad end to a fascinating site. It will now be replaced with run-of-the-mill uninspired housing.

    • Run of the mill housing.
      How wrong is that executive housing, houses 2 ? million +,
      Executive town house apartments
      I know this because i worked on first demolition then then digging the footings for new houses later.
      All to do with money as usual.
      That building was grade 2 listed

  2. Thanks KillaPowa, I’ve updates the information in the history section accordingly to include this update.
    Kind regards,

    • My uncle John blenkinsop was admitted during world war 1 he died there he almost certainly had ptsd lived and died there I can?t find any info about him I think he was the Gardner there it?s so sad would like to know more.

      • My first job was in this hospital over 30 yrs ago. Ive returned many times. I recently returned to attend Bob Armstring’s funeral .Dec 2020 Bob worked there his entire life. It was heartbreaking to see most of the listed buildings demolished along with its history and beautiful grounds. Now it looks like lego land. Such a sad end to a village of community spirit and beauty. Completely destroyed. How was this ever allowed to happen. Devastating.

      • My great aunt lived there. She fell out of a window aged 14 and as a result was in a wheelchair and May have had epilepsy. Her family looked after her for many years but at some point she went into St Mary?s and died there in 1977

  3. I lived in the staff blocks in late 80s (white buildings on the 1995 photos) both of my parents worked as Nurses there, I have so many fond memories of playing in the grounds and the special days that got organised for staff and residents. Its such a shame that its gone and there are only photos left

  4. One of the pics on exernal buildings is Kirkwood Lodge. Its the flat roofed prefab building with the ramped entrance. My mother was ward manager on there 1986 till it closed in 1988. I spent the summer of 1988 going in there working on a voluntary basis for work experience as i had just left school. I loved the ward, the staff were nice. Not so nice when she first took over the ward but that changed.

  5. I was 9 years old in 1954 suffering from TB and I spent almost a year there (when it was known as Stannington Children’s Hospital) recovering from my illness.

  6. My great aunt Grace Mackay was Matron in the 1920s and 1930s. She lost an arm in an accident at some point, but continued as Matron. Does anyone know where I could find information?

  7. Just to correct Muriel, Stannington children’s hospital was up the road from St Mary’s. I trained and worked at St Mary’s for nearly 20 years fom 1967. The only places remaining are admin building, which has now become a gastro pub and hotel. And church now a community centre. Listed buildings were allowed to let the elements in thus becoming usafe allowing permission to demolish. (cheaper to build new than convert existing)

  8. I was a patient therefrom 1981 till 1983. I was very young , just turned 19. I was on female eldon ward. There were some very special nurses on there that i will always remember for the care they gave me. Charge nurse Werner hindmarsh, sister Buglass, e.n Irene monk, dot shave on nights, Werner?s mam and sister (cant remember their names ) also staff nurse roseanne hutton and many more, also dr Agnes?s justice and dr melcote. After those traumatic years of my life i have gone on to have 7 children and have 8 grandchilden

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