In November 2007, the vast decaying remains of Hellingly Mental Asylum lie in ruin, awaiting re-development…
Undoubtedly, there will be a time when Victorian asylums such as this have all either been demolished or converted into flats. This place even had its very own little railway system that linked up with the Cuckoo line station at Hellingly and that is what this film documents.
Originally constructed to be used by the contractor who built the hospital, it was used to move building materials from the main line to the site. On completion of the building work in 1903, it was retained for use by the hospital for transporting goods and patients. A 500 volt DC supply generated by the hospital was distributed by overhead cable. The final year of use was 1959 and the track was lifted in 1960.
Starting at the now disused Hellingly station, this charming little line is traced through the undergrowth until it diverges from the main line in a neatly fenced green corridor. After a couple of closely placed unguarded level crossings, it sweeps towards the the asylum before entering the grounds and ultimately entering the building.
No effort is spared looking for artefacts. The original crossing gates where it crossed the roads, the one remaining overhead cable pylon, a weighbridge and some track embedded in the roadway of the hospital grounds are just some of the sights encountered. A generous approach from the security chaps looking after the ruined building afforded me entry to see some of these views (thanks guys !)
The weather was fairly good for November giving fantastic light for many of the shots. See also my film showing the actual buildings themselves shot at the same time. Includes constant running commentary.