Leeds hospital’s unheard voices speak up

The former High Royds Hospital in Menston
The former High Royds Hospital in Menston
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The looming presence of the clock tower rising over the valley is the only reminder of the mystery surrounding a former Leeds hospital.

The former High Royds Psychiatric Hospital, in Menston, opened its doors in 1888 as the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The hospital’s name would be whispered by people to scare children and it remained the last of its kind until it closed in 2003.

Now 127 years after the hospital first opened its doors, Leeds City Museum will host a poignant exhibition to give a voice to those who lived and worked there.

The Unheard Voices of High Royds exhibition is the culmination of years of work by former patient Tricia Thorpe and will begin with a conference at Leeds City Museum on September 25 from 1pm until 4pm.

Aiming to capture the individual voices of patients, staff and those affected by the existence of High Royds, the conference will be followed by a display in the museum’s Brodrick Hall between Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27. Tricia, who now works with Leeds and York NHS partnership foundation trust as the Time to Change Leeds coordinator, was 18 when she was sent to High Royds

She said: “The ‘Unheard Voices of High Royds’ project is about remembrance but it is also about taking steps forward and what we can take from the past to ensure modern mental health provision doesn’t make the same mistakes of the years gone by and instead remains focused on recovery found in the hope of attaining something better.”