An aerial photo of St Augustine's Hospital at Chartham, long since closed. This picture was taken in the 1980s, and shows the sheer scale of our mental hospitals before the redevelopment and closure of many of them. Easy to see, even from the air, how patients could be simply stuck there for decades, a small cog in the health machine, doomed to be institutionalised, even with the best available care. In an era when mild educational disabilities could be a ticket in, many of these hospitals were the size of a small town.
I have a small booklet outlining the history of St Augustine's, but if anyone has any old photos, ephemera or memories to share I'd be happy to add them to the archive of East Kent Hospital history that I am slowly compiling. All original material can be returned once a copy has been made - and this applies to material on any hospital in East Kent. I have a list of about 50 so far, and the archive is still just a few boxes and several shelves in the library, but 2010 plans include a web-based database, a web site and a couple of filing cabinets to help make this vital local history more accessible to all.
More to come on other hospitals - watch this space.