Whittingham Hospital was a psychiatric hospital in the parish of Whittingham, near Preston, Lancashire, England. The hospital opened in 1873 as the Fourth Lancashire County Asylum and grew to be the largest mental hospital in Britain, and pioneered the use of electroencephalograms (EEGs). It closed in 1995.
The National Asylum Workers’ Union organised a strike of 429 employees at the hospital in 1918. In 1923, the name “Whittingham Asylum” was dropped in favour of “Whittingham Mental Hospital”, a change later reinforced in law by the Mental Treatment Act 1930. In 1929, the Hospital Commissioners noted that an “open door” principle was practised on a number of wards, and the 1930 Act later resulted in the admission of the first voluntary patients. By 1939, the number of patients was 3533, with a staff of 548, making it the largest mental hospital in Great Britain.In 1948, the hospital became part of the newly formed National Health Service and was renamed “Whittingham Hospital”. In the same year it acquired Ribchester Hospital, originally a workhouse.
The hospital closed in 1995 and the site subsequently became known as “Guild Park”. In 1999, Guild Lodge was opened on the edge of Guild Park, providing secure mental healthcare services to a small number of patients, followed the next year by purpose-built rehabilitation cottages.
According to reports in May 2019 up to 750 houses are set to be built on the 120-acre site of the former Whittingham Asylum near Preston under proposals put forward by Homes England. Working with planner Barton Willmore and CampbellReith, Homes England has drawn up an outline planning application for the site, which will see the former hospital and surrounding land transformed into a housing-led development.
In total, Homes England is proposing up to 750 houses, while around six acres is being set aside to facilitate the relocation of the Whittingham & Goosnargh Sports & Social Club.Another 3.7-acre plot will be safeguarded for the delivery of a primary school, while existing buildings on the site, including the grade two-listed St John’s Church, will be converted to residential use.