Male Wards


Nightingale was used as the admissions unit and thus closed in the mid 1980s.  I have not gained access to this ward.



Olave/Queens was one block, the equivalent of Browning/Blake. Queens, on the ground floor, has many items remaining in situ, and has also been grafittied. Olave, on the first floor, is much more bare


The cleared dormitory on the first floor

olave queens2
General mess on the ground floor, windows however intact on the first.

Queens Olave

Damp setting in after tiles were removed from the roof
Immense amounts of grafitti in this stub corridor

Beds remaining in the easterly dormitory. The door leads to the verandah


The corresponding ward to Andrewes/Alleyn, P block is scattered with beds and other medical detritus is left abandoned Beds and chairs have been stacked against the windows to deter intruders

Items scattered on the first floor

Chairs and tables piled against the windows

L1000765Ceiling and floor removed part way through demolition


A small ward block, this was similar to Ellis and Guy on the Female Side.  Fully cleared, but with floors in poor condition.

rr rr2
Windows at the side of the block, decay in a bathroom

IMG_4025Cells at the back of the ward, accessed by going down 4 steps


This is a long ward made up of single cells. It was in the process of being cleared and was in a reasonable condition. Various items are left behind, but nothing of any note

Corridor during clearance.

Double Bathroom on the first floor


Turner was another short block – I visited when demolition had started and it was very damp.



This ward was attacked by arsonists in 2002 and is heavily fire damaged

vv L1000818
Fire damage revealing all 3 floors of V block


L1000821 Bi-lingual sign at the lift (English and Spanish)


I did not venture into this ward, although it was notable for having an odd tower in the corner of the building

The Tower in the corner of Unwin/York
Walkway between Unwin/York and Zachary/Unwin


W was a long ward block, with a lift shaft. It was in reasonable condition when I visited, although workmen had started to strip it.

w2 wren2
Modernisations on the top floor, Corridor on first floor (With holes in floor)

Washroom in W block

doorways bothroom
Corridor and bathroom in W Block

Dormitory on end of building


This ward was in extremely poor condition – I suspect that it closed in the 1960s with the downsizing of the hospital.

Ground floor [Zachary]

First Floor [Unwin]

11 thoughts on “Male Wards”

  1. The photos of Zachary/Unwin/York blocks are very interesting to see. They were not designed as two separate blocks but as one (Male ward G) separated by Wren/Wesley. Zachary existed on the first floor of both halves – the day room being positioned between the two 3-storey blocks and the dorm at the back, hence the long connecting passage. York and Unwin had also been one ward, day room and dorm respectively (corresponding to the layout of Zachary’s facilities). As a single ward this must have been really inconvenient as it would have involved the passage of patients via the main corridor to leave or return to dormitory every day. As single wards they were an inconvenient large room, impossible to subdivide. No doubt both factors contributed to their early closure.

  2. You have got Olave and Queens mixed up, Olave a male ward was upstairs and Queens a female ward, downstairs.

  3. The entrance to Olave was in a short corridor and not easily found by the Explorers, so there are not many photos of Olave. Am always interested in seeing photos of Olave if you have any please could you send them to me.

  4. Thanks, this is now corrected. When the hospital was built, this ward would have served only male patients.

  5. That’s very true, most photographs of Cane Hill tend to be anonymous corridors, pictures of Browning/Blake wards, and then the chapel and mortuary. I should have some more images of Olave, I’ll dig them out and send them on.

  6. I worked on Zachary and some other wards including Shaftesbury, and Paxton, (this last-named was an admissions ward where ECT was administered,) back in 1968 as a student nurse (RMN.) I met fellow Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotsmen, Nigerians, West Indians, Mauritians, Spaniards, Italians, virtually every nationality, while I was there (approx. a year.) I may be mistaken, it was a long time ago, but I thought Zachary was entirely upstairs. It was right at the far end (corner) of the building and consisted of a dorm with siderooms at the far end, as in your photos, plus a dayroom that was reached via a short L-shaped corridor. It was mostly the elderly, the geriatric, and those suffering from senile dementia, that were housed on this ward. There was one corner of the dormitory where two men suffering from Huntington’s Chorea lay in their beds. I still remember those poor souls. What a tragedy that this magnificent Victorian building has been allowed to fall into ruin!

  7. Actually, I say ‘fall into ruin’ but I see now that it has been mostly demolished! Oh dear, oh dear! That’s not so much a tragedy as a crime of vandalism against architecture, British history, humanity, and Western civilisation generally. Enoch Powell, may well have been a scholar and professor of classical Greek and Roman culture, literature, philosophy, architecture, etc., but clearly he was oblivious of the home-grown classic that was Cane Hill Hospital. Are the other big asylum in the area, like Netherne, still in existence or have they been destroyed too?

  8. I see Netherne has disappeared and Earlswood too. The latter was a hospital or asylum for abandoned severely subnormal human beings and for those suffering from Down’s Syndrome. Amongst other things I remember once seeing a naked woman on all fours enclosed in a pen as though he were an animal. A dreadful and pathetic sight! At Cane Hill I also witnessed nurse brutality against some patients. An unforgettable experience. As an eighteen year old at the time I saw how cruel men can be against their fellows.

  9. York ward is listed as a male ward. My wife’s grandmother was a patient at Cane Hill in 1959 and we have a ‘Notice of Illness’ which details her ward as York. Maybe it changed between Male and Female at times?

  10. Hi Nigel, I don’t have an explanation for this, other than the possibility that the ward may have been used for overflow from the female side. The wards were named in 1950 by Alexander Walk, Chief Superintendent and I don’t think there would have been any changes between 1950 and 1959. Walk named the female wards with names starting with A-M and the male wards with names N-Z. Simon Cornwell has a full list on his site

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