|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON|
Gore Road, Darenth, Kent
|1955 - 1985
In 1955 the Polish Neurosis Unit at Mabledon Park in Tunbridge Wells was relocated to the surviving buildings of the Lower Southern Hospital in Gore Road.
The Unit was under the direction of Dr George Bram, a Polish-Jewish physician, and was staffed by Polish doctors and nurses. The 200 patients were mostly ex-soldiers, whose only possessions were their uniforms. Traumatised and shell-shocked by the war and unable, for various reasons, to return to Poland, they were given psychiatric help to enable them to rebuild their lives in a new country.
The patients immediately began to improve their living accommodation by planting flower and vegetable gardens. They built themselves a Centre from the material left from the demolition of the Lower Hospital. This Centre contained a library, reading rooms and a canteen, as well as a television.
In 1959 the Unit was reclassified as a psychiatric unit and renamed the Mabledon Hospital. It had 137 beds.
Most patients recovered, but some became institutionalised. Some moved to refugee camps, such as the one at Lilford in Northamptonshire (some camps remained open until the last inmates died of old age).
In 1985 the Hospital closed and the remaining patients were transferred to Stone House Hospital in Dartford.
Present status (October 2008)
The Hospital was demolished. The site became part of the English Partnerships' 'Hospital sites programme'. It was projected as part of the Thames Gateway regeneration proposed by the Secretary of State for Health, but Dartford Borough Council successfully resisted the proposed housing development of up to 288 units and planning permission was refused.
In 2005 the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, dismissed a planning appeal by the Secretary of State for Health and the Department of Health and Social Care.
The former Hospital site is now part of the Darenth Country Park.
The entrance to Darenth Country Park off Gore Road.
The entry drive from Gore Road. No trace remains of the Hospital.
Mabledon Park, a 'small' country house in Tunbridge Wells, had been built around 1805. It was inherited by the Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS), who used it as a 'home of rest for clergy and laymen and laywomen' engaged in the work of Church Societies.
On the outbreak of WW2 it was requisitioned by the War Office, who used it as officer quarters. Fifty Nissen huts were built in the fields to the south of the house as accommodation for other ranks.
In 1945 it was used to house Italian ex-Prisoners-of-War, then became a Rehabilitation Centre for British Prisoners-of-War returning from camps in the Far East.
It was then utilised as a psychiatric hospital for Polish soldiers and refugees. The house and grounds were considerably restored at this time and new prefabricated huts were erected as an Occupational Therapy Unit. The Ministry of Health threatened to make a compulsory purchase of the building if the Trustees would not sell or grant a long lease. The Trustees offered ten years, with the possibility of reconsideration after five years. The Ministry declared they would leave at the end of 1954, but because of difficulties in finding alterative accommodation for the hospital it was not until the middle of 1955 that the Polish unit left.
In 1956 the CPAS once again opened Mabledon Park as a rest home. By 1989 it was no longer required by the Society and was put up for sale. It remained vacant for three years until it was purchased as a private home in 1992.
Bram G 1983 Breakdown in elderly Polish refugees. In: Baker R (ed) The Psychosocial Problems of Refugees. London, The British Refugee Council.
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