Prestwich Hospital

Prestwich Hospital is a mental health facility at Prestwich in Greater Manchester. There is still a low secure unit on site managed by the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Prestwich Hospital
Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
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Prestwich Hospital
Prestwich Hospital is located in Greater Manchester
Prestwich Hospital
Shown in Greater Manchester
LocationPrestwich, Greater Manchester, England
Coordinates53°32′11″N 2°17′24″W / 53.5365°N 2.2899°W / 53.5365; -2.2899Coordinates: 53°32′11″N 2°17′24″W / 53.5365°N 2.2899°W / 53.5365; -2.2899
Care systemNHS
Emergency departmentNo
ListsHospitals in England


The site was selected at Prestwich Woods and acquired from Oswald Milne, a solicitor, in 1847.[1] The hospital was designed by Isaac Holden, a Manchester architect.[2] It was built of red brick with stone quoin decoration and officially opened, with 350 patients, as the Second Lancashire County Lunatic Asylum in January 1851.[1] Two extra wards were completed in 1864 and an annex was built in 1883.[1]

By 1903 it was accommodating 3,135 patients making it the largest asylum in Europe.[3] Dr Montagu Lomax, assistant medical officer at the hospital between 1917 and 1919, exposed the inhuman, custodial and antitherapeutic practices there in a book[4] which led to a Royal Commission, increased central control and ultimately the Mental Treatment Act 1930.[5][6] The National Asylum Workers' Union organised a strike of 200 employees at the hospital in 1918.[7]

The facility was renamed the Prestwich Mental Hospital in 1923.[2] It was used for war casualties during the Second World War and then joined the National Health Service in 1948.[2]

Much of what Dr Lomax had described much earlier could still be seen in parts of Prestwich Hospital in the 1960s and 1970s.[8][9] However, following the introduction of Care in the Community in the early 1980s, the hospital went into a period of decline and closed to long-term patients in 1996.[2] There is still a low secure unit on site managed by the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.[10]

The hospital gave rise to the local saying "going to Prestwich" which means going mad.[11]

The dining hall of Lancaster County Asylum, Prestwich, c. 1887

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Prestwich Hospital". Manchester City Council. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Prestwich". County Asylums. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  3. ^ "The Prestwich Asylum". Archives +. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  4. ^ Montagu Lomax, The Experiences of an Asylum Doctor London: George Allen & Unwin 1921
  5. ^ BA Towers The management and politics of a public expose: the Prestwich Inquiry 1922 J Social Policy (1984) 13: 41–61
  6. ^ TW Harding, "Not worth powder and shot." A reappraisal of Montagu Lomax's contribution to mental health reform British Journal of Psychiatry (1990) 156: 180–187
  7. ^ Abel-Smith, Brian (1960). A History of the Nursing Profession. London: Heinemann. p. 132.
  8. ^ J Hopton Daily life in a 20th century psychiatric hospital: an oral history of Prestwich Hospital Int Hist Nurs J (1997) 2: 27–39
  9. ^ J Hopton Prestwich Hospital in the twentieth century: a case study of slow and uneven progress in the development of psychiatric care History of Psychiatry (1999) 10: 349–369
  10. ^ "Low secure services". Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  11. ^ Trudgill, Peter (1976) Lancashire Dialect. Clapham, N. Yorks.: Dalesman; p. 36

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