The existence of the Storthes Hall estate in the Kirkburton district of Huddersfield is first recorded in the reign of Henry III, when it was inhabited by Matthew de Storthes. The hall was acquired by the Horsfall family in 1603 and the present mansion was built by the family in 1791. By 1847 the family had let the estate, and it was run as a school from c1847-1860s. After the death of the owner, Charles Horsfall Bill, in 1863 it was let to Benjamin Lockwood, a fancy woollen manufacturer. When Lockwood's business failed he left the Hall to live at Ravensknowle Farm on the estate. The estate was leased to Joseph Armitage in 1898, and in October of that year, sold to Thomas Norton. Norton in turn sold Storthes Hall to the West Riding County Council and in 1900 it became a psychiatric hospital for ‘pauper lunatics’ mainly from the Dewsbury, Halifax, Huddersfield and Saddleworth areas, with new buildings designed by J Vickers Edwards. The first twelve patients (six male, six female) entered the institute on 2 June 1904, although building work was not completed until 1917. The mansion provided accommodation for mentally ill children. To begin with nurses worked 87.5 hours per week, although by 1946 this had been reduced to a 48 hour week. Improvements were made with the introduction of the NHS in 1948.
The hospital went through several changes of name during its lifetime:
Storthes Hall Mental Hospital 1929-38
West Riding Mental Hospital 1939-48
Storthes Hall Hospital 1949-91
Storthes Hall Hospital had 46 wards accommodating 2000 patients. During the Second World War this number rose to 3000. Up until 1969 male and female patients were kept separate and the only males allowed contact with female patients were doctors and those who took the dead into the mortuary.
Patients could enjoy activities including day trips out and sporting activities. There was a yearly trip away for a week to Llandudno from 1970s. Storthes Hall was West Yorkshire’s last remaining lunatic asylum, but was the fourth to come into place.
In 1986 -1988, with the hospital slated for closure, the Storthes Hall Oral History Project was set up with support from the Manpower Services Commission. Members of Pennine Oral History, based in Hebden Bridge, interviewed around 40 people to capture their memories of the hospital. Participants included nurses, gardeners, and others.
This collection is not the official records of the Storthes Hall Hospital; these are held at West Yorkshire Archive Service in Wakefield, reference C416 http://catalogue.wyjs.org.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=C000416&pos=11
Archival records for Storthes Hall are held in the Wakefield office of the West Yorkshire Archive Service and encompass:
• Admin records 1898-1991
• General 1898-1974
• Nursing 1949-91
• Clinical and Patients 1904-91
• Drugs registers
• Duty Officer reports
• Ward reports 1898-1989
After its closure in June 1991 most of the buildings of the hospital were demolished, except for the Mortuary and the Arboretum. In place of the Hospital the University of Huddersfield built a student village, plans for which were drawn up in 1993.
A published history of the hall was produced in 2003, entitled ‘Storthes Hall Remembered.’ The author, Ann Littlewood, worked in the hospital between the years 1968-80 then returned after a short break in 1981-4. A copy of this book is available at Heritage Quay, reference YOR/745.