Harperbury Mental hospital.
Nestled away in the county of Hertfordshire, a stone’s throw away from St Albans Harperbury hospital formerly known as Middlesex Colony opened its doors in 1928. The ‘hospital’ extraordinarily was also bordered by two other vast Psychiatric institutions, Shenley Park and Napsbury Asylums could be found only a few miles down the road from Haperbury.
To contextualise this a little, Harperbury served as a mere addition to the ready-formed 2,000 (approx) Asylums at that period scattered across Great Britain. The Colony was founded on an old aerodrome site and the layout of the campus would appear to form an extensive opened plan ‘sprawl’ however this remains deceptive since the hospital was initially built to the highest standards of self-contained security with both genders segregated to opposing living areas on the site, precise in purpose and continuity as some of the earlier built Victorian Asylums would have been.
Not all treatments at this hospital were as unyielding as it would be easy to imagine and with various forms of treatment experimentation ‘Vibroacoustic’ therapy was developed here which has been researched and proven to reduce tension and self-injurious behaviour in a patient by blending physical music vibrations with the vibrations of pulsed low frequency sine tones (an undiluted harmonic).
The site now remains largely in disrepair however a few patient units still operate from here in aid of rehabilitation and ‘care in the community’ since the NHS announced the closure of all long-stay hospitals for patients with learning disabilities and so the future of this site and its remaining staff and patients rests in limbo.
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