Whittingham Asylum… forgotten?

This is a guest post David Perkins, he is a keen photographer, web designer and urban explorer. He blogs at Planetperki and you can follow him on twitter @perki. If you would like to write a guest post for Preston Blog check out how you can get involved.

Whittingham Asylum

I know that there are a lot of people in and around Preston and the UK who know of or have been to Whittingham Asylum since it was shut in 1995, either to have a wander around, try to scare themselves or just to walk their dog. After quite a lot of research I decided to go to Whittingham and take some photographs before it is no more. What was Whittingham Asylum will soon be rubble according to some sources, so I wanted to make sure that this place was preserved in photographic form.

Whittingham AsylumWhittingham Asylum

This is a magnificent set of buildings, I only realised how big it was when I was in the roof of the Old Hall looking out over the whole complex. I visited Whittingham on a freezing cold but very sunny Thursday morning with another urban explorer. The weather the night before the exploration wasn’t brilliant but on the day… it was bright sunshine (but still freezing!)

A big brand spanking new sign had been put up since I had last walked up to the buildings. The warning signs had all kinds of weird and wonderful information on there to do with trespassing, hard hats and unusually biohazards? What the…

Whittingham AsylumWhittingham AsylumWhittingham AsylumWhittingham AsylumWhittingham AsylumWhittingham Asylum

Found our way in via a fence and an undergrowth trek, up a old fire escape on the outside of one of the old wards, up a couple of floors and into a ward. This was our starting point. Looking around upstairs at various bits and bats, it didn’t seem too messed up… (oh how wrong I was)… the pictures on here show the general feel of Whittingham but nothing is as good as seeing it for yourself.

On the first floor that we started on, a few of the doors had some fist holes in them and muddy footprints on them… explorers? security? chavs? who knows? Pretty much every single window in the whole building had been put through as well. The ward on the floor below was in the exact same format as the previous one… but still very interesting all the same. Windows had gone, kicked in doors and then some of the original doors with boards covering the original styles.

Whittingham AsylumWhittingham AsylumWhittingham AsylumWhittingham AsylumWhittingham AsylumWhittingham Asylum

Down another floor and onto the main corridor where I realised how derelict this place was. We walked a little further down the main corridor and I looked up a stairwell and saw that there was no roof?! It looked like a fire had devastated quite a large proportion of the building and considering that the main framework was made from wood it was completely destroyed!

And there ends the first session of exploring due to hearing some strange, footstep type noises coming rather quickly towards us… so we ran straight into the main hall girls toilets for a little game of hide and seek… we were in there for around 25 minutes, waited till the noises had gone, and out into the hall we went… in my opinion, an awesome room… massive! And in very good condition for something that was set on fire about a day before we were there (the faint smell of burning plastic and floorboards, drew us to that assumption). Onto the stage and upstairs. MORE FOOTSTEPS, but this time they were actually inside the hall. Another silent crouch with security standing about six feet away from me (adrenaline pumping through the roof at this point). Finally the security went away and into the roof of the main hall, which was a bit daunting, walking across some rafters but eventually we did it. From up there I got an idea of how big this place actually is!

Back into the main corridor and louder footsteps this time, so again into an old kitchen for a while, the noise of water dripping all around us kind of threw us off the sound of the security guys walking around. After the kitchen it was straight upstairs and onto the roof for a cigarette and a drink. Nice and quiet with no security. When we had rehydrated… back inside into the upstairs admin office. Looking here and there and I found it. A packet of cigarettes with no warnings whatsoever on them, ah the good old days.

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Low and behold more noises but this time sounding a bit louder than the others, so another hiding situation. Waiting, waiting and then a bit more waiting until we realised that it was actually the bloody wind! A bit paranoid now! We went back the same way and outside. Calling it a day for this trip because it was getting a bit silly stopping for every part we explored.

Back out the same way we came in and round to the front of the main building for the final shot of the building. On our way past the pond, and the killer geese gave, which was very funny. Past the chapel, had a little walk around and into the graveyard. Bit freaky finding a grave where the death date was the same as when I was born. Out and down the main path… security drives past in a car and turns around, following us all the way to the main road and parks up on the opposite side of the road waiting to see what we did next.

All in all, a very interesting day at Whittingham and it’s a sad state of affairs that it has been left to rack and ruin!


8 Responses

  1. I’ve been here on a couple of occasions, normally under the cover of darkness with camera gear and a couple of friends for moral stability.

    Really interesting post, and I can totally relate to hearing things. Some of the things we heard were chilling!

  2. Fantastic pics. Drove past it a few times but never been in!

  3. @Andy Squire: Thanks 🙂 I’ve never been to Whittingham at night because i always wanted to go and explore it during sunlight hours so that i could get the full effect…

    What parts did you get to view? Cameron Ward or the main set of buildings?

    @Andrea: Thanks for the compliments on my pictures… 🙂 You should have gone and had a wander around the outside… theres a big guard fence surrounding the whole campus so you can legally walk around without getting hassled!

    Perki 🙂

  4. […] most viewed content has been about the charity Moonlight Walk, an abandoned local mental asylum, a local group for geeks, a tweetup about Preston Guild 2012 and legislation that could force music […]

  5. Thats a pretty interesting account of your visit to the hospital.
    ive been once before, and im going again today!
    when we went the first time, the security caught us and we got a written warning each and a slight bollocking, but then they sent us on our way.
    we had to hide a couple of times to evade them, but it was inevitable that we would be caught as we were all just wandering about aimlessly!
    Today, we are going to be more careful, and if the security come we are going every man for himself and legging it!
    does anyone know the whereabouts of the entrance to the network of underground tunnels underneath whittingham?
    if you do then please e-mail me at Lazy_assed_mo_fo@hotmail.com
    It will come in very handy and will be much appreciated!

  6. Looking at these photographs of the old whittingham hospital site brings back many memories from when I paced these corridors between 1986 and 1988 as a qualified mental health nurse.I worked on night duty so remember the atmosphere and this place used to be second to none! I have recently released my autobiography titled ‘Sticks and Stones’ it can be ordered through chipmunkapublishing.com and is priced £10.My book looks at my 30 year career working within psychiatric hospitals and includes my time spent at whittingham.The book looks at the many creative ways I have tried to tackle the stigma and discrimination of mental health and I am a well known figure in the anti stigma movement nationally.My aim is to promote more tolerance, understanding and respect for all who experience mental illness.

  7. […] of the most popular posts on this blog was David Perkin’s description of the urban exploration of the decaying Whittingham Mental Asylum just outside of Preston, Lancashire. But, what was it like when it was still operating and what was […]

  8. Great Read Mate 🙂

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