Monday, 16 October 2017

NO GREAT MIND EXISTED WITHOUT A TOUCH OF MADNESS


If you asked me things I was good at then I'm pretty sure there's at least one or two I could rhyme off automatically. I make a mean Madras, I'm the queen of the cutting comeback and I know the lyrics to almost every Taylor Swift song word for word. 

Breaking & entering though?

Not so much.

However, thanks to my new found love of exploring abandoned buildings (I was always gonna run out of castles at some point), I recently found myself doing just that when I joined Christina & Fionn on a very wet Sunday trip to the derelict psychiatric hospital, Hartwoodhill, located just outside the village of Shotts. 

The brief was simple. To get in, get some cool photos, try not to electrocute ourselves/fall through any unsupported flooring/get caught and then get the hell outta dodge before we spooked ourselves so silly that we all had nightmares for a week.

Stumbling block number one: there was no longer an access point. The hospital was surrounded by very tall, very secure, wrought iron spiked fences. We walked the entire circumference of the hospital and there was no way in, none at all. After some digging (in the Google sense) we discovered that there had previously been a hole dug under the fence of which a person of moderate size could easily push themselves under. However said hole had been filled up by the authorities after a recent fire (probably started by some local kids) and they had done a seriously good job of making sure no one else was getting in.

It was a stunning building, if not somewhat dilapidated and we were not to be dissuaded in our aim. So we spent almost an hour of digging (in the literal sense), with no spade. Because we like to think of ourselves as a prepared bunch and I had come armed with no more than a waterproof jacket, my iPhone and a packet of wet wipes. 

You would really think I would be better at this by now.

After digging a hole big enough for us to squeeze our asses under, we were finally in. And ready to do some serious exploring. 

According to Wikipedia:

'The remains of the building, a 19th century psychiatric hospital with imposing twin clock towers, are the main feature of Hartwood village, even after it's closure under the direction of the Lanarkshire Health Board in 1998. On the morning of 28 June 2004, a fire broke out in the disused Hartwood buildings. This involved the destruction of the admin office, dining hall and clock towers. After it closed in 1998, it was used as a studio by Lanarkshire Television, but Lanarkshire Television was closed down in 2002. After LTV left, the hospital fell victim to vandalism & fire. Security men regularly patrol the site to fend off vandals.'

Luckily for us, security must have been off that day. Not that we were there to make a mess, cause any chaos or even leave any evidence of our arrival. We were simply there to explore, get a few pics and then be on our merry way. 

Staying safe, leaving things untouched. 

Because dems the rules.

Originally known as the Lanark District Asylum, the facility was opened in 1895 with a capacity for 500 patients. The complex included staff housing, gardens, a farm, a power plant, a reservoir, a railway line & a cemetery.

Although this was my first visit, I had heard stories through various relatives of my family connections to the place. I had family members who had worked there, and some other relatives who had spent time there as inpatients. One spent their entire life in the institution.

I wanted to know more.

There's an eeriness to the place, a lot of negative energy and definitely some bad kinda karma. Stories abound that it wasn't a nice place to work or to be treated. Although a low security mental hospital that housed many law abiding but sadly unwell average Joes, the hospital also treated many criminals & sex offenders. There's rumours of cold treatment by staff, clinical and harsh use of electric shock treatment and patients who spent their entire lives trapped in the lonely, looming but beautiful buildings.  

I couldn't get over the creepy stillness as we explored. Curtains still flapped in the wind next to broken windows, a fan in the roof still blew while the rest of the remains stood motionless. There was the constant drip, drip, dripping of water from the burst ceiling in the roof.

An abandoned mattress lay in the middle of the floor in one of the rooms. An old gas heater had been left on it's own to rust. There was a tired brown leather armchair sitting nonchalantly in the middle of one ward, a radiator hanging off the wall behind it. We found old workies boots, half dug into the earth and starting to rot. Old filing cabinets still stood, with bed numbers and wards printed along the side.

It felt like we were only people around for miles. The silence was imposing. The energy insane. I have no idea if it was the dampness in the air that kept causing our goosebumps or the spookiness of our surroundings. 

We explored for an hour at least. Occasionally straying but for the most part being too spooked not to stick together. We got our photos. Left footprints and nothing else. Then we scooted out the man hole from which we had arrived and covered in mud made our way back to the car.

Where we gossiped all the way back to Glasgow. Happy at the shared prospects of hot baths, take away food and Sunday night telly when we got home. Tired but exhilarated. Muddy but victorious. Excited but a little bit freaked out...

If you like this post you can read about another one of my explorations when I checked out the beautiful Boclair House (before it was restored to a hotel) on Halloween. At night! 

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