Lancaster was the fourth county to establish an asylum following the 1808 County Asylums Act and a site to the west of the town at Lancaster was chosen, on the edge of Lancaster Moor. The hospital expanded throughout the next century and at the turn of the 1900’s new villas were added, including the Ladies Villa, which was big enough to be a small asylum in its own right.
As Lancaster Moor declined through the 1980’s, following the demise of other institutions, many of the buildings were sold or demolished including the farms which were sold to the prison service where HMP Lancaster Farms is today. During this period, admissions were planned to remain onsite and were moved to the former Ladies’ Villa, which become Ridge Lea Hospital.
Following the closure of the main site, the original buildings were later converted for residential use with newer extensions demolished. The villas were demolished in 2013 to make way for 200 new homes however mental health services continued to operate from Ridge Lea, the only original part of the hospital to continue providing mental health care.
Ridge Lea operated until the site closed in September 2016 where it has since been targeted by vandals, leaving the site in a poor condition. Seemore Properties purchased the site in November 2021 and submitted plans to demolish the site however these were refused by the council due to a lack of information on how it would affect bats and the woodland around the site. In January 2022 the council used emergency powers to designate Lancaster Moor as a conservation area. “We believe that the architectural and historic quality of buildings on Lancaster Moor fully justify Conservation Area status,” said Councillor Gina Dowding, cabinet member with responsibility for planning. “Before making that decision, however, we would normally ask the public for their views, but due to urgent circumstances were unable to do so back in January.”
High Security/Seclusion Ward
Rest of Hospital
Sources: Place North West, County Asylums, Beyond Radio