Welcome

Welcome to SAHHistory.wordpress.com. This site is dedicated to Saint Augustine’s Hospital in Chartham, Kent, in the UK, Now sadly demolished and redeveloped as a housing estate.

Check out the Site News section for all updates to the website and Facebook group.

You can navigate our pictures and videos of the site using the menu bar, above right.

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So, Who am I, and why am I making a site about a Mental Hospital that no longer exists?

I am Stacy Leith, and my late Father, Andrew Leith, worked at the site, mainly in the boiler room, from the early to mid 1980’s, up until it closed in 1993. My Father raised me on his own, and I often went in to work with him, especially when he was on call. I have many fond memories of the site, climbing in the boilers to clean them with him, sitting in the old mess room, visiting the workshop, climbing the 100ft water tower, and all sorts of other things me and my father did there.

Recently I did some searching on the internet for pictures of the site, and came up dry. There are many photos online, but 99% are after it was closed, all of them showing dilapidated, half demolished, barely recognisable structures.

I knew my family still had a video my Father and his very good friend Doug had shot a week before they closed the door in 1993, and upon asking for a copy, was also supplied photos of the site, taken by one of my fathers colleagues, ranging from 1975 up to 1993, which also document a number of interesting events to happen late in the Hospitals life time.

I loved the hospital, as did my Father, and I know he would want this site to be made, so that everyone interested in the history of Saint Augustine’s Hospital can see the photos and videos we have. Otherwise, it may just be forgotten.

So, please feel free to have a look around, and share this site with anyone who may be interested, and get in touch if you have anything to add.

More photos could be added at any time, as I know we have many more buried in boxes, and am in the process of tracking them down!

 

This site is dedicated to my Father, who worked at St Augustine’s Hospital and moved on to St Martins Hospitalย in Canterbury when St A’s closed in 1993.

dad

Andrew F. Leith,ย 22/09/1949 – 18/01/2007

233 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. omg i worked with your dad at st Augustines ,, i was in the electricians work shop and before the hospital closed i took a job in the boiler house at canterbury hospital … when i went for the interview at canterbury i asked your dad if he could give me a bit of trainning on the boilers which he did i miss him he was a great guy although he called me crazy graham lol.. i remember when he used to try and shake the steps i was working off in the boiler house we had great working times there , i even lived round the corner from you for 10 years in burgess road xx

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    • Hello Graham! Wow, thanks for commenting, glad you found the website. Its awesome to find someone that worked with Dad! I’m sure we must have met at some point, lol. If you have anything you would like to add to this site, even if it’s just info on the boiler room, or if you have any stories of dad, I would love to hear them. You can email me through the contact part of this website if you want to.

      Regards,
      Stacy Leith

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    • L just found a foto of myself when l was 1 year old 1961 .had the address of this hospital and thevyear 1961 .my dad was luonel diani born in gibraltar .sadly passed away very young in his early 30s woild love to find out anything about him .thankong you in advance janet diani .from gibraltar .

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  2. Hi Stacy,
    i am grahams brother.I worked with your dad for a short time.
    I started work at St A’s in 1979, that was my base, i would go to the other hospitals with 2 other chaps
    fitting new gas/oil boilers etc.
    Your dad always had a smile on his face, the times i did work with him were fun.
    I still work in the NHS at QEQM Hospital Margate not as good as the times we had in the 80s. It has all become too serious,
    regards Andy.

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    • Hi Andy, man, so good to hear from people that knew Dad! Thanks so much for visiting the site, and commenting. I know he would have loved to see the reactions from everybody so far, I know he loved working there.
      I think it’s the same in most professions these days, way to serious, and not enough fun. I would have loved to do the job my dad and you guys did back then, I feel I was born to late, lol, as no places like that really exist anymore

      Regards,
      Stacy Leith

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    • I did 8 weeks at St A’s as a student nurse in 1984. Was an amazing place, and easy to get lost in! My husband Phil worked there as a painter 1980-1983, when he moved to KCH. Knows both Graham and Andy Holliday. Good times,and sad to s.ee its demise. Not the smartest decision closing places like that

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  3. Hello Stacey – this is so interesting – my nan worked in the kitchens in the 60s and 70s – I regularly visited (I remember being inside) and I also used to collect conkers. Thank you for sharing.
    Kind regards
    Susan Monk

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    • Hi Susan, I know its a long shot but my Nan was a patient in the early sixties. and she fell for a man who worked in the kitchen William (Bill) Mckenzie he was Australian they ended up running off to Australia together and coming back to England a few years later. I wondered if you remembered him or if your nan ever spoke about him?
      Kind regards

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  4. Thankyou so much for creating this, I can’t tell you how long I have tried to find some photo’s of SA prior to its closure. My uncle and aunt both worked there for many years and have so many interesting stories to tell..

    Thanks again..

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  5. Hi Stacy I remember your dad very well he was a lovely man, he worked with my hubby Jim peacock who is still working for nhs but at st martins , we also have son called Stacy , which your dad liked that name

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    • Hi Lorraine, great to hear from you, I remember Jim from when I used to go to work with Dad. Best wishes to you both, and thanks for commenting

      Regards,
      Stacy Leith

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  6. So many memories, what a fantastic site! My mum worked in the laundry, Iris Cole/Hammond, I was a domestic and nursing assistant and my dad was a porter. As well as other family members in various jobs. The pics are great, well done.

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  7. Fantastic, thank you! I now live on the “new” housing estate built on the site and have been searching for a long time for pictures of the hospital before it was demolished. Look forward to following the updates.

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  8. I worked in the stores from 1979-1984 & my family ran Johnson House Social club. When the first rumours came out about them shutting I left and joined the RAF. I remember your dad and most of the guys that worked there including the blacksmith. Great site would like to know if anyone reading this has any photos of our disco The Thunderflash Roadshow we played all venues around the Hospital. great site.

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      • Hi Catherine
        I have very fond memories of “socials” at Johnson House. As kids we loved to get up there and someone always seemed to sing My Way at the end.
        Do you remember Jim Newgent’s interesting magic acts?
        I also remember the sixpence slot machine but never got to play on it.
        Happy days.
        Ann Holmes.

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  9. Great site. I also have searched, in vain, for photos and have regretted never goung back and taking my own before it was demolished. My dad was the head porter, Eric Holmes, and my mum was a nurse, Dorothy ( Dot) Holmes. I was a cleaner there in 1972 . We lived on The Crescent. X

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    • Hi Ann,
      I was a temporary porter under Eric (if I have the right chap) in 1972.
      I was a patient in Redwood House adolescent unit & reached school leaving age while still resident. It was a kind of work experience for which I was paid ten bob a week!
      I remember Eric as a very affable, easy going chap wearing a green boiler suit. He had thinning dark hair which was greased back and front teeth missing, possibly.
      There was another porter who was shifty, a bit of a ‘spiv’ one might say, who had a shock of black hair & swept back like early Elvis. I remember him in brown overalls of the open coat type.
      We used to deliver ale and stout to the wards & I feel compelled to confess that on occasions the temptation to pilfer got the better of me and I would stuff the odd bottle down the front of my underpants!
      I think we may have communicated via the old Friends Reunited website a while back?
      Take care,
      Terry Murley

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      • Hi Terry
        The man you are describing was not Eric Holmes; although he was the Head Porter there in 1972.
        My dad always wore a three piece suit, he had a lot of black hair brushed back, Elvis style.
        Ann.

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      • He was. He always wore a three piece suit at work with a chain and pocket watch. He was a nice man.

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    • Hi my mum was a patient in 1972 ^73 I was in there with her as she had pnd ….I’ve had so many bad things about this place ….mum can’t remember a thing ….

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      • Hi Jeanette, do you know which ward your mum was on? My mum worked on the mother and baby unit for a time but can’t think what it was called. I’m sure some people have horror stories to tell but many others have very fond memories of great kindness and therapeutic care.
        I hope you are well, is your mother still alive?
        All the best.
        Ann.

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      • Hi.i was a patient in redwood hse.in approx 74-75.had some great times.i remember we used to go down to the hospital to help out.well we thought we was helping.but was probably a hindrence.loved going over the woods.there used to be an old bomb crater in there.used to meet some of the girls from chartham for a cuddle and kiss haha.very fond memories.i ended going to the.school in the village before i left. Good times.

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  10. I was a student nurse in the 50s and have a collection of photographs which include
    Pictures of students outside the training school, members of staff attending a sports day in 1955,

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  11. Hi, most my family(Westley) worked at the hospital at some stage. I did my training there 64 –68, have photos of our group outside the training school attached to Godfrey House. Remember the’Old Time Dances’ dances my parents used to run. (Rose and Claude). Also good times in the club house.

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    • I was a patient aged 14 in early 1965 when you were doing your training. I have autographs of some of the nurses who looked after me but I don’t have one with Westley. You may remember some of their names though! I had my first hair perm, learned how to ballroom dance including memories of the spot dance, did whist drives and made several nice items in the occupational Therapy department – a half moon rug for in front of the fire, basketry, a stool and I believe I am right in thinking I had a book teaching you how to touch type! I have some very difficult memories as well but overall the hospital was a bolt hole from significant sadness at home. Winston Churchill died while I was on Cherry ward and when on Clematis ward I remember being taken into Canterbury for cooking classes which I thoroughly enjoyed!

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      • No I don’t remember anyone of these names. You are the first one to reply to my messages – thank you.

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    • Do you remember M.R. Morgan, night nurse; E.M. Sharpe; Nurse Ralph day staff; Staff Nurse A. Underdown; B.J. Lewis, night nurse; All worked at hospital in early 1965. They all signed my autograph book!! Mary Cowell?? also appears in my book but unsure if staff or patient! I would be interested to see the training group outside Godfrey House. Maybe one of the above names/people will be there??

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      • That could be Mary Morgan. Sounds about the right time. She would have been very young then maybe in her early 20s. She was married to Jim Morgan. They had four children I believe (I could be wrong it maybe five). The ones I remember are Micheal, Diana, Gary and Richard.

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  12. Hi. My mum worked as a nurse at the hospital.joy mills ( westley ) And I remember the dances my nan and grandad ran, I also have photos.

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  13. Hi Stacy, my memories of St Augustine was when my Grand mother was admitted into St Augustines for some well needed psychiatric help back in 1984. Being an Identical twin and my brother having joined the Royal Navy and me having joined the the then local County Regiment “Queens” dressed into our No Twos to visit her. Walking around those dark corridors and big double swishing doors will stay in my memory for the rest of my days here. Great hospital and fantastic staff, I remember a family from Chartham that had family members working there as well by the name of “Twyfords” You possibly would have known?

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  14. I left the Royal Navy in 1979 and 2 days later was working on Bay ward as a nursing assistant before starting my student nurse training. I have fond memories of working there as well as sad ones as my sister spent much time as an in patient. Thanks for posting this as it has jogged my memory and I shall pass it on to a work colleague who also worked there in the early eighties; we both now live and work in Norfolk. Steve Farrell

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    • Can you remember the names of the nurses you worked with on Bay ward at that time. My fathers name was Jerry. We are trying to find out what ward he worked on. I think it was bay but I am not sure.

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      • Hi Kevin, I remember you very well and your dad Gerry, if I remember correctly you lived along the Ashford Road, but you used to come up to the green at the end of The Cresent to meet up with the local kids to play football and hang out. When I started work as a Nursing Assistant in 1981 I began on Bay Ward, I was a domestic before that and used to go to Bay Ward to collect the crockery to go to dishwasher unit. I don’t recall Gerry being on Bay then but I do remember Josie Norton (SEN), Mary Bailey (SEN), Jack Juniper ( Charge Nurse), Mags Spendley (NA), George Saunders ( Charge Nurse), Jim Kent (NA), Neil Foulds (NA), I even recall Steve Farrell but I think he left to do his training as I begun.

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      • Hi Nick Sims, I remember you well and your brother. Really nice to hear from you. Yes I remember Jack Juniper, Mags Spendley and Steve Farrell. Must have been another ward my Dad was on. Wish I could remember.

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      • Hi Kevin
        You are right about the Morgan family. There was an older girl as well but her name escapes me. I used to hang around with Mick and my brother with Gary. Gary went on to be a porter at the hospital. Ann.

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    • I just realized that I remember you in the social club Steve. I used to have a sister called Pauline I think she was same age as you, you may have known her, when everyone used to drink in Cross keys in village when Dennis was the landlord down there at the time. But I maybe completely wrong! And have you mixed up with some one else. Pauline used to go out with David Mills.

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  15. i worked at st Augustines as a domestic from 1980 to 1985 then as a Rotary shift porter from jan 1987 to september 1993.
    portering was a great job there had some really great times ….this site is so good many thanks for all the great memories ๐Ÿ™‚

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  16. my mother Mildred Grundy worked in the ITU still have bench seat that was given to her. Me and my dad would pick her up after school we lived in Sturry.

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  17. Well what a great site and pictures, I remember many of you that have commented. I worked here from 1982-93 moving to KCH because of the closure. Great memories of Johnson House and good times with Wayne Bean, Ashley Pond etc. I may even have a photo or two, so Ill look into uploading.

    It was like one big family ๐Ÿ™‚

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  18. Hi I remember John Towner when he was a charge nurse on Larch Ward. Sean Alder I worked with . I am currently living in Longbeach California

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  19. I was a male nurse from 1953 to 1960 when I and family emigrated to Australia . I eventually became director of nursing at a general hospital. My wife Ros also worked at st Augustine’s that’s where I met her.
    Remember John Townsend .he was there same time as myself. Can someone tell me how many beds in the old hospital.love to hear any news of staff who were there in above era

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    • I remember Chris marsh but he has got my name wrong.it is john towner not john Townsend, I have a video done by des fisher in 1993.des was a senior nurse.

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      • 1993 I escaped to Kings college London for 20yrs then to California ๐Ÿ˜

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  20. i trained at st augustines hospital 1954-1957 then went to Canterbury general hospital – trained
    met my wife at st.a (she worked there. ros murray)
    dec 1960 left to emigrate to Australia with family
    1961 opened surgical unit at north ryde psych centre
    moved to coffs harbour mid nth coast 1976
    1978became d.o.n at Bellingen hospital
    remember john townsend

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  21. Lots of memories of St Augustines. Still working there until it closed in 1993…moved to Thanet Mental Health Unit then back to St Martins. where I retired just over 12 years ago.
    There is a group of us that meet up (all nursing staff at St As years ago) on a monthly basis bi monthly in winter. These include…Ron Josling, Jim Bruce, Robert Tyler, John Towner, John Muchene, Roy Holder, Myself (Jim Collins) , Rudi Demendonca, Patrick,
    A number of years ago Michael Pitchacaren and Jim Twyford passed on…they were very much the center of all things on “The Crescent” and sadly missed. Marion Pitchacaren still on Crescent and Eve Twyford living in Canterbury.St Augustines and its Social Club including Stigger House and Godfrey House good provide a wonderful storybook…

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    • Hi Jim, I remember Jim and Eve Twyford. We lived next to them at no2 The Cresent. Glad there are still people meeting up. X

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    • Was Michael Pitchacaren, Debra Pitchacaren’s father. Was he from Sri lanker or somewhere like that originally? It must be! I was very fond of Debra at time. Absolutely beautiful girl. 40 years ago I knew her. ha ha!

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  22. Hi, Ann Holmes.
    I remember your mum and dad well yep he was a true gent. always smartly dressed.
    THIS IS DAJA VU as i was only thinking about you a few days ago well to be honest just dreaming and up the past came i remember you said you liked my hair cut but i disliked it as my old man made me have it as punishment had long hair before, NASTY AH. BUT YOU WHERE KIND and said i was ok .
    I hope you are ok and well very strange dejavu.

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  23. Sorry Ann. I am going off line hard times and needs are must so no longer on face book or internet.
    I wish you all the very best ghost.

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  24. Remember taking a patient back to the hospital before it closed and working there a few shifts then to Thanet Mental Health Unit and ended up looking after that patient for years to come . Would not give up that memory for anything still work in mental health today . Remember Jim, Ron , Jim and others at ST,Martins

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  25. It was most interesting to read your web-site which I found when searching for the closing day ceremony for St Augustine’s in 1993. This was triggered by my wanting to find a clearer video or photo of that day since my Aunt Daphne Jones now finds it difficult to see the video her late husband ( Dick ) made due to her degenerating sight. You, and others may remember her as the manageress of the hairdresser’s shop from 1960 to 1989 who worked with Janet Onslow and Stephanie Tupp. Her late husband Dick filmed the closing ceremony on his VHS camera then transferred from tape to DVD in 1997 with a loss of quality. However, I was so pleased to be able to bring my computer from Wincheap ( By bus ) to Rough Common to enable her to see, and to hear, those memories of that day. Had I the financial means I would have liked to have had the DVD digitally re-mastered to correct the imbalance of light and shade which was made worse by it being an overcast day when filmed. We could then have played it on a projected large screen inviting whoever had survived from 1993. However, despite her difficulty in seeing she saw and heard enough to enable it to trigger happy memories of those she worked with during her 29 years. Curiously, for whatever reasons, she did not attend the showing of the VHS tape in 1993. Her mind is still as sharp as it was then so I accept her word about this. Her husband Dick, made a number of copies taken from the VHS and distributed them including one to Janet Onslow.

    I visit my Aunt every two weeks on a Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at her bungalow in Rough Common which I always enjoy so this Friday I will mention your web site to see if she will like me to print out your comments
    to those who contribute and to read them out to her.

    My Aunt is fortunate that she has good friends who help and support her whom she has known for over 30 years. Although she is a sociable person, she is also very private so I would need to ask her if she wanted to contribute to your web site. I am so sure she would have remembered your late Father. If she is interested and you are happy to receive her contribution I can take notes from her and when at home use these to E Mail you.

    Kindest regards

    Wallace Edward Gibson ( Formerly of 45 Black Griffin Lane, Canterbury 1946 – 1971 ) and salesman at Deakin & Sons Limited ( 1960 – 1966 ) and the DIY shop in St Peter’s Street ( 1966 – 1971 )

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    • Dear Mr Gibson
      My father, Eric Holmes, would definately have known your Aunt, he knew everyone and was very friendly snd sociable. My mother, Dorothy (Dot) would probably have known her too. St Augustines was like a small self-contained village n the 60s and eatly 70s when we wew there.
      I hope your Aunt gets some fond memories stirred up from this site.
      Kind regards.
      Ann.

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  26. Thank you Ms Holmes for including my contribution. I misunderstood the Facebook bit so you may find another message asking you about it. Please ignore this. I have now printed all of the above to take to my Aunt Daphne Jones this Friday so that I can go over the names to encourage her to comment. Thank you for taking the time and the trouble to set up the web site.

    Wallace Edward Gibson

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    • Hello Mr Gibson
      I’m afraid that I can’t take the credit for the site. I am just a contributor.
      I hope your Aunt enjoys the trip down memory lane.
      All the best.
      Ann.

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  27. To Stacy Leith

    Many thanks for setting up the St Augustine’s web site which hopefully will bring people together who have lost touch. I mistakenly thanked Ann Holmes who replied to my piece concerning my Aunt Daphne Jones
    ( Manager of the hairdressing shop 1960 to 1989 ) for setting up the site. Apologies. I printed out all of the contributors and took these to my Aunt this Friday and read them all out since her sight is limited. She was so pleased to hear the comments of people she knew. She certainly remembers your late Father at the social club functions and was sad that he died before his time. She will be seeing Janet Onslow ( Her former work colleague ) this week who may be interested in the web site but has no computer! If she does wish to contribute she will have to go through my Aunt Daphne who in turn will tell me what they want to post on the site.

    Paul Edward Gibson ( Ted ) Born 1918 died 1959. ( age 41 )

    My late Father had a brief stay at St Augustine’s as a patient in about late 1957 early 1958 when he had a breakdown. I think he may have been living in Canterbury at the time . He was so disturbed that he entered my place of work at the Odeon cinema and forced me to leave to go home with him to my grandparents where I lived. I was pushed through the High Street into the street where I lived. They had already called the police who came just in time at the back garden of the house as he was about to strangle me. Although I was just age 16 the shock of his violence and hatred prevented me from fighting back. Perhaps a stronger, more streetwise boy would have coped with him. Over a year or so later, he took his own life in
    a rented room in Willesden, London using his domestic gas supply. When I heard of his death I had no emotions at all other than a great sense of relief that I was free of the fear I had lived with for a number of years. It was much later, in January 1980 when I was in a happy time in my own life that I started to reflect about his unhappy life which started me on a journey to discover what had led him to take his life. When I discovered his tragic early beginnings as an orphan in Catholic children’s homes and of his ancestors history I then understood why his life ended so tragically. Had he felt he was loved he may have had a reason to live. If there is an afterlife I hope he will forgive me and others in my family for rejecting him. It is here I thank those of you who have spent your lives as caring mental nurses bringing love and hope to those like my late Father. I doubt if anyone would remember him. He had TB as a baby which caused one of his legs not to grow as long so he always had to wear a built-up shoe which he hated but he bravely made the best of it. He was not afraid to stand up for himself especially when called “Hoppy” but responded better to “Ted”.

    Another memory that came to me to do with St Augustine’s was of a man I briefly knew to do with a customer of mine when I worked at Deakin and Sons Limited about Late 1963 early 1964. He was the adopted son of a Mary Oliver who lived in St Alphage lane, Canterbury. He lived in London but would come to visit her. He was epileptic and liked his alcohol which led to the tragic accident in Guildhall Street when he fell in front of a bus. I witnesses this from Deakin’s window. I think he was eventually taken to St Augustine’s where he later died. I remember his embarrassing appearance when he would come into the shop in a drunken state offering me money to go away with him. His Mother would leave the shop ahead of him. On that occasion he was on his own. I think he was in his late 30’s or early 40’s and had dyed red hair.
    His Mother never got over his death. Is there anyone who can remember him and his name? He may have been buried in London. I could not trace what happened to Mary Oliver. I don’t think her adopted son had the same sur-name. She lived with an older woman called “The Princess” who sat for hours looking into her mirror saying very little! Mary received an allowance from her solicitors. I think she may have been married and her husband died. After that she preferred the company of women. My interest is that I enjoy genealogy as an interest which stems from 1980. I now do it for those people I like and find interesting since all of my own family research has been finished. I never charge since it is my enjoyment.

    Thank you once again for your hard work and for indulging me with my memories of my Father and the unknown man who also died so tragically.

    Kindest regards

    Wallace E Gibson

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  28. What a great site. I was a student nurse st St A’s from 1976 to 1979 and then a staff nurse. I’d also been a porter there from 1974 to 1976 having been taken on by Eric Holmes and Jack Halliday

    So many fabulous names and memories

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  29. What a great site Stacy, well done and thank you for creating it. Having a scan through the pictures and stories have brought back many happy memories. My parents and my Dad’s parents worked at the hospital, between them, from probably the 50s until the 90s. Plus, I lived on The Crescent for the first 24 years of my life.

    TONY PRICE (STORE KEEPER)
    My Dad, Tony Price, worked in the Stores with Geoff Bradley and others (their names escape me at the moment) for many years from, I believe, the early 60s until shortly before his death in 1992. Like you, I have many a happy memory of going to my Dad’s work on the odd Saturday morning. It was a joy to be in those amazing buildings as a child, something that seems to baffle a lot of people when I share some of my stories of the seemingly endless corridors and maze-like passageways and unusual outbuildings. It was all so much fun to ‘explore'(!). Although to be fair, much of this ‘exploring’ took place on sunny weekend afternoons and during the school holidays, probably without my parents’ knowledge! This was of course before the days of security guards.

    JANET PRICE (STAFF NURSE)
    My mum, Janet Price, worked at the hospital from the 60s until the late 80s or early 90s. She worked as a Staff Nurse for most of this time, although I think she may have been a ward sister or similar for a time before he had children when she went part-time on her return to work. I think the last ward she worked on was Myrtle. She later moved to Nunnery Fields in Canterbury where she stayed until she passed away in 2001. I didn’t ever accompany her to her work at St A’s, as she worked nights, but I do have vague memories of visiting the hospital with her on the odd occasion, perhaps to drop something off. Actually as I type this, I remember that everyone used to be paid in cash and there was a wages office just behind the ‘centre’ (the main entrance lobby), where the weekly wages were processed by Clive Smith.

    HAROLD PRICE (SHOP WORKER)
    My Grandad, who died before I was born, was Harold Price and worked in the shop. I don’t know how long for/when he started/finished, etc, as this was all before I was born. I’d love to find out more if anyone knows.

    HILDA PRICE (LAUNDRY WORKER)
    His wife Hilda Price I think worked in the laundry, but must have retired in the 70s, I would have thought. Again, if anyone has any memories of her, I would be intrigued to find out more.

    ME
    My name’s Lee and I didn’t work at the hospital, but nonetheless felt very close to it from my birth right up to its closure. I have fond memories too of the Social Club, from the kids parties right up to when I was old enough to become a member and very quickly, a ‘regular’, (and able to gatecrash the odd Godfrey House party). I’m sure it was the first place I ever (openly) tried booze and went on to become part of the pool and darts teams. (I’d be lying if I said I added much to the proceedings, but there you go…). I do miss those 90p a pint nights out though!

    My first full-time job was as a Payroll Clerk, based at the District Finance Offices at Nunnery Fields Hospital and the section that I worked as part of was responsible for the weekly and monthly pay and pensions for… St Augustine’s! I recognise a lot of the names on this page not only from my family’s connection to the hospital and because I lived on The Crescent, but also because I used to see a lot of your surnames week in, week out as I helped prepare the payroll (including ‘Leith’ Stacy!).

    I do have some old photos somewhere, which I’ll have to scan in at some point, some going back many decades. And Mark Pickersgill, one of those includes the “Thunderflash Roadshow”.

    I’ve gone on longer than I had planned, but just to add: it would be great to hear some more memories and see more pictures of the hospital, the social club, The Crescent, etc. And if anyone has any memories of any of my relatives who worked at the hospital, I’d love to hear them.

    Thanks again Stacy for the site! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, my grandparents! Harold died before I was born, in 1970 I think, and Hilda lived until 2000. Would that have been at Baker’s Lane? Presumably my Dad Tony, then a teenager or younger, and his brothers were living there too? I would love to hear more! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Hi Lee, I think it must have been Bakers Lane and I think Stephen’s brother might have been called Terry. I can’t remember his father’s name but I’m pretty sure he was a porter at the hospital. I used to keep a goat in the bottom half of that huge garden at 21!! Ann

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    • Dear Lee,
      What perfectly articulated memories to beguile us all!
      Like you, but as a 15 year old patient, I was also a frequent explorer in the main building. There was something comforting about wandering unmolested and imbibing the atmosphere of grand Victoriana. I can still imagine the waft of Old Holborn permeating the tunnel -like corridors and the noise and bustle emanating from the kitchen.
      I distinctly remember befriending an 18 year old girl, ‘Maree’ who was a patient in Oak House and had a baby called Tarkus. With her flaming red hair and way out clothes she was the centre of attention at the social club disco. She wore bright red platform boots and was bedecked with jewelry and beads. In fact, I can remember her many bangles ‘chinking’ as she grooved to Starman by David Bowie.
      Almost a lifetime later part of me remains in that wonderful old hospital and its adjacent grounds.
      Not a healthy reflection some might say but the staff, patients and calmer times leave me with memories which cannot be understood by people unconnected with the place.
      Peace.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Lee
      Are you any relation of Stephen Price who lived with his dad in a house past the end of The Crescent, away from the hospital?
      I was a friend of Stephen’s in my teenage years and hung around with him and other kids.
      I think Stephen had a younger brother.
      We lived at no.2 and then at 21 The Crescent between about 1968 to 1974.
      Ann Holmes.

      Like

      • Hi Ann, I don’t think so but I might be wrong. Do you know what his Dad’s name was or which street he lived in. How funny, I lived at No.2 until 1977 before moving to No. 21 for twenty years, so it looks like my family were unwittingly following in your footsteps!

        Lee

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      • Hi Lee, I just replied to your post but I sent it to the wrong person!! I think Stephen’s brother was called Terry but I can’t remember his father’s name. I’m pretty sure he was a porter at the hospital though. They lived on Bakers Lane I think. I used the keep a goat at the end of that huge garden at 21..

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  30. Hello,
    It’s great to see everyone’s stories!
    My grandfather John Mills worked as a Nurse there in between the 30s and the 60s. His wife was Violet and children David, Pam and Carolyn
    If anyone knew him I would love to hear about it!

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    • Hi Annabel,
      I lived on the Downs from 1960 to ’67 and vaguely remember playing dressing up gameswith Carolyn and Pam. I also remember your Grandad being around.
      My Dad, Colin Prew worked as a trainee nurse at St As.

      Like

  31. I was a day patient? Student? Here in the early 80’s. Was it Redwood or Beechwood? One was residential, one was day? Would love to hear from anyone from that era, Jamie, Darren, Ros, Paula xx

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  32. Wow what a wonderful site. It has been so facinating reading all the comments. I dont think i knew Andrew Leith but i seem to recognise the photo’s.
    Iworked at St A’s and St Martins from 1965 til the closure so i’m sure i must have met Andrew in the course if our work.
    What wonderful memories of those days and what wonderful stories we could all tell.
    I still live in the Crescent and knew Eric holmes well. (Remember some of the parties.)
    Lovely reading Lee Price contribution i watched him grow up. I took over on May Ward when his mum left.
    Every entry has been facinating. Thanks to Jim Collins for remembering Michael ( my husband) and Jim Twyford . Sorry i haven’t been in touch Jim but hope you are well.
    Thanks especially to Stacy for starting this site. I will be following it from now on.
    Hello to everyone who knew me and Michael. ( and remembering all who have passed on)

    Like

    • Hello Marion
      I remember my parents’, Dot and Eric Holmes, parties, even got to go to one when I was 15.
      We lived at no.2 and then 21 The Crescent. My dad moved to Canada with Lorraine – who is 86 today. My dad died a while ago and my mum died in 2007, she lived in Nottingham close to me.
      I hope you are sell.
      All the best.
      Ann Holmes.

      Like

      • Nice to hear from you. Sorry to hear of mum and dads passing. Cant believe lorraine is 86 how time flies. You must remember my girls jackie, debbie, michaela all in their 50’s and maybe my son mat in his 40’s. I lost my husband Michael in 1998.
        I still live in number 15 the crescent and keep fairly well.

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      • Hello Marion
        I do remember your daughters, not your son though.
        Sorry to hear about Michael, he can’t have been very old.
        I bet you have seen some changes in Chartham over the years.
        I swing by when I am in the area; I just drive through. It always seems sad that the Vestey’s shop is derelict. I used to love going there, I remember the big red bacon slicer and the chewing gum machine outside.
        Ann.

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    • Are you any relation to Debra Pitchacaren. Her father and mother both worked at St (As as nurses I think. But not 100% sure) But I know 100% that they used to live next door to Mary and Jim Morgan (who both also worked at the hospital as nurses)

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      • Yes you are quite right we did live next door to mary and jim morgan in the crescent.
        I worked with Elsie in hawthorn ward.
        I remember you all from our nights in the social club and i still live in the same house in the crescent. Many many memories.

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      • I remember you really well. I remember Micheal as well. But I was only about 12 or 13 when I last saw you both (42 years ago), you were both always very nice to me. Mum lives in Deal. When I see her next I will tell her I spoke to you. Fantastic to contact you, it really is. Made me very tearful. Have a lovely 2017 Marion! I had a crush for your Debra at the time. Although I was way too young and too shy! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Those were very happy memories.

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      • How sweet.
        The girls remember you.
        Yes i remember Jerry. Not sure which ward he worked on as the female and male sides were quite seperate in those days.
        Happy 2017 xx

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    • Thanks Marion, and you to! Its great to know your still in that house! How amazing! makes me very nostalgic!

      You are not very far from number 9. I had a very good friend at no 9 the crescent. Her name is Elaine Reid and she lived at no 9 with her partner Dermot Egan. I no longer live in Kent. Left about 30 years ago. So I don’t get down that way now. I don’t suppose you know them do you? Do you know if they are still at that same address? Hope you don’t mind me asking! I really should write to them. But I would imagine they have moved on by now. Be great to know if they are still there.

      It is so nice to speak to you, it really is. Brings back nice memories of playing in your garden over the fence with tennis/babmington rackets with your Debbie! whilst visiting Gary Morgan.

      Nice to know your girls remembered me! Amazing!

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  33. Hello Marion
    I do remember your daughters, not your son though.
    Sorry to hear about Michael, he can’t have been very old.
    I bet you have seen some changes in Chartham over the years.
    I swing by when I am in the area; I just drive through. It always seems sad that the Vestey’s shop is derelict. I used to love going there, I remember the big red bacon slicer and the chewing gum machine outside.
    Ann.

    Like

  34. I was a kid in redwood house in 1980. Dr turle i think was the psychiatrist. With max carp and gaye tuna who were married they were psychologists i think. Use to go to lessons in beech house had a great trampoline.

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  35. Hi Iain,
    It’s comforting to hear of a fellow patient/resident of Redwood House albeit 8 years after my departure.
    The staff nurses I remember are Steve Lucy, Paddy Nolan, Val Turner and ‘Edna’ who was a table tennis player of some repute.
    Student nurses: Pete Mulvaney and Jean Hunt. The sole teacher at Beech House was a Mr Pearce. Any of these names familiar to you?
    In ’72 it was customary for boys to ‘bed wreck’ new intakes. This entailed vandalising one’s personal effects and bedding arrangements in order to assign you to your proper place in the pecking order (e.g. The bottom!). On my last day I avenged my assailants in the same manner. Some months later I returned to visit only to find some of them were still there!
    If you have any more memories to share I would love to share them with you.
    Kind regards,
    Tel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Terry I was scrolling through the St. Augustines home page, and i read with interest that teacher Mr Pearce was still at Beech House in 1972. I remember him when I was a resident at Redwood House and schooled at Beech House in 1967-68. The Head Teacher in October 1967 was Mr Guy, and there was a 3rd teacher in Beech House School called Mr Broyad. Staff at Redwood House in 1967-68 included Staff Nurse’s Mrs Phillips & Mrs Hopper. Male Nurses included John Potter & Norman Draper. Oh yes and the consultant Psyciatrist was Dr Turle and Pysycologist in 1967-68 was Mr Wollen. In those days i was known as Andrew Nichols, from Basildon, Essex. I have since Transgendered in January 2017in Belgrade, Serbia. I am now biologically female and i am now known as Andrea Nichols. I still live over the water at Basildon, Essex. Does anyone remember any of the above people? I would love to hear from anyone who remembered me from those days. Kindest Regards Andrea Nichols (Iformerly Andrew).

      Like

      • Hello Andrea,
        It would appear part of our early lives ran parallel! Like you I was referred to Redwood House by the Child Guidance Clinic in Great Oaks, Basildon. This was in 1972. I attended Barstable School and lived off Whitmore Way. I was admitted before my school leaving date so completed my ‘schooling’ in Beech House under Mr Pearce.
        I also returned to visit Redwood House – once in 1973 when it was still operational and several times thereafter just to look and imbibe the strangeness and emotions I felt while I was resident there.
        No one who was not connected with the grand old hospital could appreciate the lifelong fascination and feeling of belonging which lasts a lifetime.
        I distinctly remember being administered Valium initially and struggling to integrate with the other boys. I got on much better with adult patients in Oak House and in the main building. I even managed to get served beer with some of them on dark winter nights in the Fagge Arms at the bottom of the long drive.
        The name John Potter rings a very loud bell with me. I feel sure he was there when I was a patient. I remember the snooker table, serving hatch and alcove which housed a record player and board games.
        The dismantling of the old hospital was like a twisted knife in my back. The grandeur, history and memories were violated as far as I was concerned.
        I must admit I was not aware of electro shock therapy in Redwood although I was forewarned about admittance medicals by other boys but did not experience anything untoward as far as my memory serves me.
        Hope you have found peace and tranquility following your alignment.
        Kindest regards,
        Tel

        Liked by 1 person

  36. Violet bean I worked on Maple Ward from Jan 1980 till August 1983.One of the nurses was Iris Blake she lived in house bottom of the drive with her husband Tom Blake.He was nursing officer.

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  37. Hi, I have fond memories of the Hospital, My Nan and Granddad, Tom and Marie Williams and their trusty golden Labrador “Dusty” (You have a photo of them on this site) were the club stewards in the early 70’s, the functions which were put on in the “Big Room” were always well supported. It is amazing how many people I meet today have connections with the Hospital and Chartham in general, all of which have good memories. As a youngster living in Chartham at the time, we were alll aware of the “Residents” of the hospital, but they were accepted into the local community and were never any “Trouble”, oh how times change!!!! not always for the better.

    Like

    • I remember Tom and Marie. They were a great team always friendly. Very fund memories of the social club during their time of running it. They put on great dances and all sorts of things. When we were kids they organized cinema evenings. The social club was such a brilliant place.

      Like

  38. Hi Stacey. Wonderful website. I have just been sent to this website by Jane Ives (maiden name Johnson), she worked there as a domestic when she was about 18 or 19 sometime between about 1977 and 1980. My Mother’s (Elsie O’Brien (was Ingles)) Father was the hospital farm Manager during the war years and into the 50s. Although I am not sure when he retired. But he basically ran the farm. His name was John Ingles. I would love it if any one remembers him. I have many connections with the hospital and like others here, many stories about it. This site is well needed. They should never have shut that hospital down. It was like a big family to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Just spotted in one of the photos Tom Mulligans Morris Minor car (its light blue color). I don’t think anyone else had one of that color. I am sure it his car. Great chap, great car.

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  40. Ann Holmes. Remember Eric very well.
    Many of the names in the blog are familiar. Many are no longer with us.
    Me? N/A and St/N 1971-75

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  41. Hello Stacey. I am very impressed with your website and I wondered if any of the many visitors to the site can help. As a fire service historian, I was pleased to receive on Pinterest a picture of the Commer fire engine outside the fire station at St Augustine’s Hospital.
    Hospital fire brigades are a very important part of fire service history so if anyone can kindly supply any information about the brigade at St Augustine’s, I would be very grateful.
    It sounds to me as though there are many happy memories from staff and patients.
    Kind regards.
    Simon

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  42. Hi Lee, you probably don’t know me but my family were your parents next door neighbours on ‘The Downs’ in the early to mid 70’s, Janet and Tony lived in number 4 and we lived in number 5 opposite the Fagg Arms pub. My parents were Kathleen (Kitt) & Peter Sims, I remember Janet and Tony very well, when they moved out of ‘The Downs’ to the ‘Crescent’, Geoff & Ros Bradley moved into number 4. We moved out of the downs in 1980/81 after my father died and lived in Canterbury, but we all continued to work at the hospital.

    Like

  43. What an absolutely extraordinary site.

    I live nearby in Herne Bay and work at St. Martins Hospital and had explored the last few buildings on the site at St. Augustine’s (I was only 6 when it closed) that have now I am led to believe recently been demolished.

    I have no direct links to the hospital but find the history so fascinating – so I just wanted say thank you for all this info. Hopefully more and more pictures/videos will crop up over time.

    Nice work Stacy!!

    Alex Howell

    Like

  44. Hi Stacey, I was a resident of Redwood House, and did my schooling at Beech House, both out-buildings of St. Augustine’s Hospital, from 20th October 1967 until 23rd February 1968, following problems I was having at my Secondary School here in Basildon, Essex. Whilst I was there I was subjected to the infamous Electric Shock Treatment. I was gagged, tied to a treatment table and wire’s attached to various parts of my body. I was scared. I was only 13 when I went there for help following severe bullyingat my school, Craylands Secondary Modern, Timberlog Lane, Basildon. When I told my parents(both sadly passed away now) they were utterly furious and threatened to pull me out of Redwood House, there and then. In the event I came home and went back to Craylands School in February 1968. I still have vivid memories of that place to this day. In 1967 aged 13 I was known as Andrew Nichols, but earlier this year I had a full gender change operation in Belgrade, Serbia, and I am now known as Miss Andrea Nichols, and I am now biologally female. when I still had a car I did re-visit St. Augustine’s after closure a few time’s and “got into Redwood House”” and went upstairs to what was my bedroom mand took some phoo’son a proper 35mm Camera. It was sureal. I still “freak out” when I hear Lucy in the Sky with Diamonjhdes, from The Beatles “Sgt Pepper” Album, as that tune was beinjg playe3d on their gramaphone the afternoon I was admitted (20th October 1967)..

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  45. Hi Stacey, quite recently I commented on the St. Augustine home page recently about my stay at Redwood House & Beech House, from 20th October 1967 until 23rd February 1968. I mentioned about receiving the infamous electric shock treatment whilst resident in Redwood House and doing my schooling in Beech House expecting to receive a comment only to find it disappeared off the system and I dont know why this should happen? I was 13 years old at the time and was sent to St. Augustine’s for help from my school, Craylands Secondary School, Timberlog Lane, Basildon, Essex. If anyone was either a patient or was staff at Redwood or Beech October 1967 and February 1968, I’d like to hear from them. Anderea (formerly Andrew) Nichols, Basildon, Essex.

    Like

    • Only just noticed this comment, sorry. This is because I manually approve every comment to avoid spam, you commented while I was away for xmas, so it didn’t get approved straight away…

      Like

    • My mum was admitted to this place and had the ECT treatment and god knows what else. Mum had never recovered and now she has dementia and proven to have damage to her frontal lobes. Rather than all these people glorifying the place who knows what evil was done there.

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      • Donna,
        I am sorry to learn about your mum’s condition. Obviously if you have proof then you would still have recourse to legal action.
        As a patient I had nothing but great care and positive memories which I will take to my grave.
        That is not glorifying. It is an honest statement of my personal experience of being cared for in the hospital. One has to speak as one finds.
        I can honestly say I did not witness any maltreatment of patients nor hear of any. That is not to say it never occurred. In other words, I would not presume every patient had a happy stay simply because I did.

        Like

      • I agree Donna, although people on this site donโ€™t want to hear it. If you read through the comments itโ€™s mostly staff reminiscing. Unsurprisingly patients and there relatives has a very different feelings about the torture that went on here.

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  46. Hi there. My name is Andrea Nichols, and I live over at Basildon, Essex. I wonder has anybody got any news on staff or in-patients who were resident or working at Redwood or Beech House’s, at St. Augustine’s Hospital, between 2oth an October 1967 and 23rd February 1968 please. I was an inpatient between those dates at Redwood House, and as a 13 year old boy (then) and I am doing some research on my time there 50 years ago. Some of the name’s of staff were, Charge Nurse’s John Potter & Norman Draper. There were Staff Nurse’s Mrs Phillips & Mrs Hopper. The Teachers at Beech House were Mr Guy (Head) and Mr Pearce. Other boys included Dave Jefferies, Eddie Rust, Alan Punyer Ian Marchant-Williams. Dr Turle was the Consultant Psyciatrist and Mr Wollen was the Psycologist. Please any info on these p[eople or photo’s and other memories please do contact me via email. I am now transgendered and are known as Andrea Nichols.

    Like

    • Hi Andrea! Surely we must have crossed paths at Beech House? I ended up there through being a compulsive truant – ha ha – and loved every minute there. I didn’t turn out so bad so i guess they did a good job. As I recall I was there in the late ’60s. Staff were Bob Mills, Paddy Nolan, Mrs Hopper (bless her), Val Turner (with the red MGA), Billy Ko and Steve Chang (who taught us to be unbeatable at table tennis), Dr Turle, old baldy Dr Wollen, Tim Pearce (who went on to do pottery in the Buttermarket and later, massive amounts of fostering at his on home) plus Mr Bryand(?) the art teacher. do you remember any other kids there? I remember Martin, a big gentle guy who introduced me to TRex, Jimmy McGregor – the Rolling Stone fanatic – Tim who built endless tank models, Fatty Youden who we made a trough for him to eat from (were we cruel or what?). We went camping in the New Forest and swimming at Tankerton. Was some of the best days of my life and the staff were the most loving caring people I have ever met. These days I live in South Africa, sort of retired from the film and TV industry and tapping odd the odd novel. I’ve just finished one set in Canterbury called “Librarians and Other Criminals”. you can find it on Amazon Kindle. You might recognise some stuff in there.

      Like

  47. Hi There, I was a resident at Redwood House, and did my schooling in Beech House, within the grounds of St. Augustine’s Hospital (aged 13 years) from 20th October 1967 until 23rd February 1968. How I came to be at St. Augustine’s when I was just 13 years of age is a very long story. Lets just say I had a lot of trouble at my school (Craylands Secondary School, Timberlog Lane, Basildon), I was bullied unmercifully, and the school and child phsycology people at Great Oaks Clinic, in Basildon, advised my late parents of a unit in the grounds of a Psyciatric Hospital (St. Augustine’s) in East Kent that could help me and my late parents relunctantly agreed to me coming to St. Augustine’s at 13 years of agefor 4 months.
    Anyway I would very much like to get some photo’s of the staff and of the 2 x buildings (Redwood & Beech House’s) that i was involved with between 20th Octobere 1967 and 23rd February 1968.
    I would finally like to say that in 1967/68 I wa\s a 13 year old very lonely 6ft tall boy and i was known as Andrew Nichols. In recent times ive undergone full Gender Reconstruction and I am now known in my female ID. and these days I am know known a\s Andrea Nichols.

    Like

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