Booklet from Greaves Hall Hospital
Please note: Outdated language in relation to disability is used in this post. ID: A grey booklet that reads: ‘Liverpool Regional Hospital Board, Greaves Hall Hospital, 8th May 1954’. This booklet marks the opening of Greaves Hall Hospital, in Banks, north of Southport. Originally a country home and a girls’ school (1932-1938), it became a residential hospital for patients with mental health conditions in 1954. The hospital originally housed children, and later eventually expanded to take in adult patients. The booklet refers to it as a hospital for ‘mentally defective’ patients. Michaela Hollens is a member of the Museum of Liverpool’s Curating for Change Disability History Co-Production Group. She is diagnosed as autistic but identifies more with ‘neurodivergent’. Michaela’s cousin was a resident at Greaves Hall in the 1980s, when she was in her early 20s. Michaela remembers that she was the only person who visited her, as her religious family didn’t want to visit her because they “didn’t believe in mental illness”. She says she really cared for her cousin and didn’t want her to be alone. Michaela was originally scared about visiting - she didn’t know what to expect. She remembers: “I nearly turned back on the driveway, I got anxious. I was nervous, because it was a strange place, and had already visited two other ‘mental’ hospitals, Langho (referring to Brockhall Hospital in Lancashire), where a friend of mine was a nurse, and once for an EEG at the very forbidding Winwick (in Cheshire) with its long drab corridors. But Greaves Hall was quite different, brighter and less scary.” She remembers meeting her cousin at the door nearly every day. She said her cousin thought of it “as a holiday” and that she was very well liked. She loved to do dares and practical jokes, and even once climbed Greaves Hall’s water tower. Michaela remembers that her cousin had stayed in one of the newer buildings, and that the original black-and-white hall was used as offices and consulting rooms by this time. Greaves Hall was closed in 1992 and suffered a series of arson attacks and vandalism in the years after its closure. Urban explorers in the 2000s often shared images of the derelict building online, showing that many confidential documents and patients’ belongings had been left behind. It was eventually demolished in 2009. Michaela reflects on the impact of what happened to Greaves Hall: “After vandals had spread their graffiti and taken anything of value, the other buildings were demolished and once personal belongings, murals and artwork made by the patients were scrapped. It was sad knowing that what had long become a community had ended in that way. The health services cared nothing for its history."