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Barnes Hospital – Abandoned after 120 years of service to its patients

Nikola Petrovski

The rural location that was chosen for this hospital helped create the perfect environment in which the patients were to heal. Today, the area is part of protected green belt land on the outskirts of the city of Manchester, surrounded by busy roads and motorways. Perhaps this only makes an old, empty building seem even more neglected.

Red brick facade with blue brick decoration. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

Red brick facade with blue brick decoration. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

The story of Barnes Hospital begins in 1869, when a gentleman named Robert Barnes decided to make a contribution to the Manchester Royal Infirmary for a new convalescent hospital to be built in Cheadle, England.

Barnes Hospital. Author: Mike Peel CC BY-SA 4.0

Barnes Hospital. Author: Mike Peel CC BY-SA 4.0

Mr Barnes donated almost $30,000 (around $460,000 inflation adjusted in today’s money) towards this goal. After four years, the work was completed. The new hospital was named The Barnes Convalescent Home after it’s benefactor.

Interestingly, during the construction pieces of three Celtic Christian high crosses were found, evidence that the site once marked an important boundary or that there may have been a church or monastary nearby. One of these is now kept at St Mary’s Church in Cheadle but the location of two are unknown.

Example of a High Cross. Author: Matteo Corti CC BY-SA 3.0

Example of a High Cross. Author: Matteo Corti CC BY-SA 3.0

The convalescent hospital was now ready to house 132 patients. For year after year from it’s opening in 1975 the hospital lost money and had to be supported financially by the Manchester Royal Infirmary. It was generally accepted that this way the hospital was able to receive additional patients.

The statue on the top of the hospital. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

The statue on the top of the hospital. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

In 1925 electricity was installed at the Barnes Convalescent Home together with connection to the mains water supply. Some time later the hospital opened an orthopaedic ward which enabled it to treat even more patients who were in for the long stay.

Barnes hospital. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

Barnes hospital. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

But the expansion of the hospital was far from over. Over the years the hospital received its surgical wing, also a physiotherapy gym and x-ray unit. During the Second World War, as was the case with many other hospitals at that time, Barnes Hospital did everything it could to help aid the war effort. It took care of wounded soldiers many of whom were suffering from trauma.

As the hospital itself came into its elderly years, it started to take care of elderly patients. As time went on the hospital reached its inevitable end. The doors were shut in 1999 after more than 120 years in the service of its patients.

Close up of the clock tower. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

Close up of the clock tower. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

After it’s closure as a hospital, the building served as the home for a number of immigrants from Kosovo. And at one time it was even used by more than 100 gypsy families, who needless to say added more to the overall deterioration.

Once closed, Barnes Hospital switched hands several times. First it was sold by the NHS in 2001 to a company named Realty Estates who did nothing to maintain the building.

Close up of the clock tower. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

Close up of the clock tower. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

It was purchased for the price of $15 million by an Irish company called Benmore. From here the hospital was once more sold, to a group of local businessmen. This time it was different for they promised that their vision was to restore the earlier splendour of this hospital as well provide residential apartments.

Barnes Hospital tower. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

Barnes Hospital tower. Author: paul CC BY 2.0

Barnes Hospital was found to be the ideal filming location for the 1974 horror movie titled The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. It was even featured in the TV show Most Haunted Live in 2005 where due to certain reasons it was mistaken for a psychiatric institution.