To the left are a considerable number of images showing the modernisation of the old womens block. By todays standards very much antiquainted, however back in 1960 this was a state of the art conversion and the improvements being more than welcomed by the staff and patients alike.
Prior to the modernisation scheme the conditions were very much as they were at the turn of the century, and could best be described as “Dickensian” with heavy old furniture and gloomy decor. If you weren’t depressed initially when you entered the hospital as a resident you certainly would have been after a short time.
Along with the improvements in accommodation came the advent of the open door policy which materialised fully in the late 1960’s early 1970’s where wards that had been locked down for over a century suddenly were opened with a new found freedom never before experienced. The open door policy however did not extend to the Refractory wards (the definition of Refractory is “resistant to treatment”).
We have a video of the conversion/improvements showing staff and patients, this can be accessed from the links section on the front page. It is around 10 minutes long and a most interesting piece of archive footage.
Whilst gathering material for the website, quite by chance I found the extract below hidden amongst unrelated paperwork.
Extract from the British Medical Journal January 2nd 1960
The Hospital embarked upon a long-term programme tp modernize its main building, built between 1818 and 1880 and accomodating 1,000 of its 2000 patients. A pilot venture to see whether it was architecturally and economically practicable to convert an old building into a modern hospital was recently opened by Major C Hunter, Chairman of the Leeds Regional Hospital Board.
The three wards concerned in the pilot scheme are for long stay women patients; the old corridors and single rooms have been converted into open plan lounges, dining rooms, and dormitories and the rather grim windows with small sash bars have been replaced by considerably larger ones of the picture type. Together with the next phase planned for 1960-1, the pilot scheme will have provided accommodation for 200 patients at the cost of £500 per bed.
The Leeds Regional Hospital Board has also chosen Stanley Royd for an experimental increase in Medical Officers in an attempt to combat chronicity and overcrowding, the Medical establishment will shortly be double what it was a year ago.