Hill End Hospital
The northern area of the current Highfield Park is where Hill End Hospital was located, including the chapel that you see in this image. Hill End Hospital was opened in 1900 and closed in 1995. It even had its own railway line, which is now the Alban Way. The hospital was self sufficient with its own farms, kitchen gardens and orchards.
During the 2nd World War St Bartholomews Hospital was relocated to Hill End Hospital, to treat the war wounded and Londoners injured during the Blitz. During the battle of Dunkirk the hospital treated over 600 casualties in one week. St Bartholomews hospital eventually relocated back to the London by 1961.
In 1958 the hospital’s farms closed, however the gardens remained and horticulture was added to the therapeutic activities offered. During this time a varied programme of entertainment was offered to patients which included film shows and dances. The wards were starting to be kept unlocked and were renamed using famous people’s names.
Only three of the original Hospital ward blocks now remain and these have been converted into social housing. The former Hospital Chapel has been redeveloped and is now Trestle Arts Base, home to Trestle Theatre Company.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind? was a community heritage project that began in spring 2009
and finished in spring 2011. It focused on those who lived in or worked at Hill
End Hospital, one of 5 psychiatric hospitals in the St Albans area. These hospitals
were established from the late 19th century onwards and – with the exception of one
small unit – all closed when ‘care in the community’ policies were implemented from
the 1980s. This part of St Albans’ history is largely forgotten, and the project aimed
to enable those who had a connection with Hill End to tell their stories, and to
explore the impact of Hill End on the life and development of the city. Much of the
resulting material can be found on the project’s website at www.stalbansoutofsightoutofmind.org.uk