A Three Counties Asylum Porter

I interviewed an ex Porter at Fairfield Hospital.

He started aged 27 after being 5 years as a butcher with Arlesey Co-op , then Dewhursts.

His starting salary in 1969 was 6s/7d an hour.

The Head Porter Malcolm Rawley retired after David had been there 6 months , and the manager asked David Castle if he would like the job. Most of the other 11 porters were over sixty and didn’t like being told what to do by a “youngster”

Porter tasks were delivering food , medicine , mail , a bit of cleaning and transporting dead bodies about. They weren’t allowed to move live patients about incase they “kicked off” , so trained psychiatric nurses had to do this.

They had to clean parts of the hospital that were attached to a ward N . Large Halls the Cinema and corridors including the windows.

The hospital was split in 2 , the Main Buildings then the Huts ,and  the Cricket Pavillion ,the Bowls Pavillion and the Tennis Courts.

They often struggled to get staff and recruited from the North East  , Sunderland and Newcastle and that’s how the got Geordie , and Wearside porters in Arlesey Hospital.

They could put staff up in the Nurses Home which was for half male,and half female staff or in The Bury Mansion.

Also he told me in the middle of a Bowls match up Fairfield they heard a funny noise behind a hedge , all the players looked over and 2 patients were making love.There were lots of abortions amongst the female patients , and this sort of thing happeneed all the time.

The Porter guy had to deal with the dead bodies 24hrs , he even had to get a member of staff out of the Blue Lagoon as well.

He had dived in off the crane and never came up.

He surfaced 2 or 3 days later.

A common method of suicide for the patients was drowning themselves in the Blue Lagoon.

He told me about when an Arlesey man got home from work on a winter’s day and found his brother who was a patient at fairfield , soaking wet , sitting on his doorstep. He said to him whatever has happened to you. He replied “I tried to drowned myself , but it was too cold.I’ll have to wait until the summer” Sure enough in the summer he drowned himself.

Another time he told me about having to put a patient out after she had set herself alight.

After the hospital shut in 2000 I was taken on by the developers. Once He was asked to show a Medium around .David told me about channel 4 were going to do a program about hauntings.

He was escorting a medium around the grounds and she kept stopping him around various locations.She said she could sense violent deaths.

She had a film crew filming her.

She even found the location where a nurse was murdered and where the brewer was drowned in a big Brewing vat of beer.

He then went on to tell her at each point she had stopped him a different patient had killed themselves at that location.

But after she had lots of material she was stopped from making the program , by the authorities..

They said they didn’t like the idea of this and thought it was inappropriate.

2 thoughts on “A Three Counties Asylum Porter

  1. I am interested in the area where the nurse was murdered.Was this the murder of Muriel Emery in the spinney or a nurse inside the hospital?

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    • the only murder I personally know about was the murder and rape of a nurse riding her bike back from visiting her sister in letchworth. She was knocked off her bike and attacked by a day patient from Letchworth .She was biking back to the nurses home in the hospital grounds.David Castle probably knows a lot more ,or the guy who writes the Three counties website Rich.

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