Storthes Hall Archive

Scope and Content

This collection is not the official records of the Storthes Hall Hospital; these are held at West Yorkshire Archive Service reference C416

This collection contains records of the work, buildings, facilities and activities of Storthes Hall Hospital, mostly dating from the period when it was run as an NHS mental health institution. It includes material relating to the running of the hospital, including the legal framework under which it operated. There is a fair amount of material relating to the buildings and facilities, including photographs and documents covering the history of the estate. Many of the documents in the collection are records created or used by hospital staff, whilst a few relate to patients and their visitors.

The collection is arranged as follows:

STH/1 Governance and administration

STH/2 Estates and Facilities

STH/3 Staff Records

STH/4 Clinical and Patient-related records

STH/5 Press Cuttings

STH/6 Oral History Project Records

STH/7 Films

STH/8 Festival of Commemoration 1990

Administrative / Biographical History

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

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

• Photographs

• 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.

Access Information

Original available for consultation by appointment

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Archive includes 95 cassette tapes, 1 videotape, and 1 film reel, photographs, architectural plans and paper records.

Custodial History

Retired Nurse Mrs Cynthia Haigh donated photographs and documents to the University Archives in March 2005, forming the main part of the collection. This material includes Haigh's personal papers as well as records relating to the hospital more widely that Haigh inherited from her brother David Clegg, formerly the Director of Nursing Services.

Further items were found in the Hospital buildings when the University purchased them for use as student accommodation in the early 1990s. Some material was also added by the University Archivist, Hilary Haigh. Haigh initially undertook some research on Storthes Hall and began collecting material at the request of Dr MacDonald. In 1996 she was involved with Clinical Nurse Adviser Ann Littlewood's prosposed exhibition on the history of Storthes Hall, to be housed in the School of Health and Human Sciences. There was also a proposal for a history of the Hall in that year, and further work in 2005 for a planned website dedicated to Storthes Hall.

In August 1996 Dr Ian Goodall of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments deposited 3 boxes of plans relating to the construction of Storthes Hall Hospital. Further plans appear to have been acquired from A Johnson, Project Manager of Storthes Hall, in 2005.

Copies of oral history interviews obtained from the trustees of Pennine Heritage in August 2004.

Related Material

Storthes Hall Remembered by Ann Littlewood (2003).