Mr Lawrence Ashworth – A Man of Devotion

Mr Lawrence AshworthMr Lawrence AshworthH.R.H Princess Royal with Mr. G. Wright, H.M.C. Chairman and Matron, Pinderfields General Hospital ( In background Mr A L Ashworth, then Senior Admin Assistant at Stanley RoydPhotograph taken on the occasion of the visit of the Rt.Hon. Enoch Powell, Minister of Health, 23rd September 1963. Ashworth back row, far left.Mr Lawrence Ashworth 1963Health Stalwart Dies, The Sad Death Of A Gentleman.. Mr Lawrence Ashworth.Preface To Hospital Museum tells Poignant Stories Of Patients Struggles With Mental Illness, Mr Lawrence AshworthDedicated to the health service - the death of Lawrence Ashworth

A. Lawrence Ashworth AHA was Secretary to the hospital from 1961 to 1973 although he was first employed at the hospital in 1929.

In 1975 he published Stanley Royd Hospital, Wakefield, One Hundred and Fifty Years, A History.

A full account of the history and characters has been written by A.L. Ashworth in Stanley Royd Hospital, Wakefield, One Hundred and Fifty Years: A History (London, Berrico Publicity Co., 1975), and the following is a précis of that account.

In 1979 to 1991 he was curator of the Stephen G. Beaumont Museum, at the hospital, which included a scale model of the original asylum, made by Mr Ashworth using the original plans and drawings, a padded cell, and much archival material.

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“Mr. A.L Ashworth, recently retired Stanley Royd Hospital Secretary is to be congratulated on his review of the history of the evolution of the hospital. Having worked closely with him for the past twenty years, I know he has always had a strong sense of history, and a temperate pride in his association with the many unique features of the old Asylum, it’s distinguished personalities and its ongoing struggle with social, economic, political and medical problems. His work of collecting, collating and making eminently readable such valuable information has been indeed a labour of love. It will serve as a record and guide to the Historical Museum he is setting up in the hospital later this year”

Peter F. Fletcher, MB, CH.B, DPM

Consultant Psychiatrist

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Lawrence Ashworth was probably one of the longest serving employees at Stanley Royd. He first began working there on October 1st 1929 as a junior clerk in the Treasurers Department and progressed to Hospital Secretary by October 1962.

“I have many personal memories as well as the knowledge I have gained about the history of the hospital. Although what is now history was once my reality!”

Here he tells of his first encounter with the hospital:

“My first visit to what was then designated “Wakefield Asylum” was in September 1929. I presented myself at the lodge wicket gate, the main gates were of course closed and after a search for my credentials I was allowed to go through.

I knew not what to expect, but my heart increased its beat and I was filled with apprehension. To my surprise I entered a haven – scrupulously clean roads, no rubbish, close cropped manicured lawns and verges, lovely trees and flower beds.

Entering the main entrance of what is now Pinderfields but was then the acute department of the asylum, I was met by a most beautiful sight.

The corridor was banked on each side by the most beautiful, sweet smell scented plants and flowers. It was unbelievable, but very real. There was a general air of tranquility which I am sure belied what lay behind the scenes.”

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More than a life time of Memories.

Stanley Royd Hospital closed its doors for the very last time in September 1995 after more than 175 years of providing institutional care to psychiatric patients. However the hospital’s history and a history of mental illness and treatment has been preservd in the Stephen G.Beaumont museum which was until recently located on the Stanley Royd Hospital site.

The museum, which first opened in 1975, plays an important part in local education and history alike, and in order to preserve this for future generations, the Trust has relocated the museum to the Fieldhead Hospital site.

During the official opening ceremony, Trust Chairman Roy Widdowson presented the museum’s curator, Mr Lawrence Ashworth with a special award in recognition of his 70 years service in the NHS.

Mr Widdowson paid tribute to Mr Ashworth for his remarkable dedication to Stanley Royd Hospital – both as a member of staff and in his efforts to share his memories and knowledge with others.

At 87 years of age, Mr Ashworth is the leading authority on the life and times of Stanley Royd Hospital and is also probably the country’s longest serving member of NHS staff. He joined the hospital on October 1st 1929 as a junior clerk in the treasurers department and had progressed to hospital secretary by October 1962.

Since his retirement in 1973, he has been on duty every Wednesday at the museum to share his experiences.

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HEALTH SERVICE STALWART DIES

A man who dedicated 72 years of his working life to the health service in Wakefield has died.
Mr Lawrence Ashworth, 88, started his career as a junior clerk in the treasurers’ department at Stanley Royd Hospital in October 1929, and by 1962 had progressed to Hospital Secretary.
He retired in 1973 but continued his work with the hospital by assembling the Stephen G Beaumont Museum on the Stanley Royd site.
It chronicles the history of psychiatric care in Wakefield since 1818 and was relocated to nearby Fieldhead Hospital after Stanley Royd closed in 1995.
During the official reopening ceremony in May last year, Mr Ashworth was presented with a special award in recognition of more than 70 years work in the health service.
A spokesman for Wakefield and Pontefract Community Health NHS Trust said “Since the relocation of the museum, Mr Ashworth continued to dedicate his time every Wednesday to the museum and to sharing his memories and experiences. He was well known as being an incredible mine of information, knowing everything t here was to know about Stanley Royd Hospital.”

“He worked at the museum right up until he passed away, illustrating his enormous commitment and enthusiasm for his work.”

Mr Ashworth, who lived at Walton, died in hospital after a short illness.

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