Bangour Village Hospital, located near Dechmont in West Lothian, Scotland, is a former psychiatric hospital that has been abandoned since 2004. The hospital, which opened in 1906, was once home to thousands of patients suffering from various mental disorders. The hospital was also used as a military hospital during both World Wars, treating wounded soldiers and prisoners of war.
The hospital complex consists of over 30 buildings, including wards, a church, a cinema, a farm, and a bakery. The buildings are designed in a colonial style, resembling a small village. The hospital was surrounded by landscaped gardens and woodland, creating a tranquil and therapeutic environment for the patients.
The History of Bangour Village Hospital
Bangour Village Hospital was one of the first psychiatric hospitals in Scotland to adopt the “village system”, which aimed to provide a more humane and community-based approach to mental health care. The hospital was inspired by the Alt-Scherbitz asylum in Germany, which was visited by the Scottish physician Thomas Clouston in 1896. Clouston was impressed by the asylum’s village-like layout and the involvement of the patients in various activities and occupations.
The hospital was built on the estate of Bangour House, which was purchased by the Edinburgh District Lunacy Board in 1898. The construction of the hospital began in 1902 and was completed in 1906. The hospital was officially opened by the Earl of Rosebery on 6 October 1906. The hospital had a capacity of 200 patients, but soon expanded to accommodate more. By 1918, the hospital had over 3,000 patients and 600 staff.
The hospital played an important role in both World Wars, serving as a military hospital for the Scottish Command. The hospital treated soldiers with physical and psychological injuries, as well as prisoners of war from Germany, Italy, and Japan. The hospital also witnessed some tragic events, such as a fire that killed nine patients in 1927, and a typhoid outbreak that killed 11 patients and staff in 1937.
The hospital continued to operate as a psychiatric hospital until the 1980s, when it began to decline due to the deinstitutionalisation of mental health care and the development of new drugs and therapies. The hospital gradually closed down its wards and transferred its patients to other facilities. The last ward closed in 2004, and the hospital was officially decommissioned in 2005.
The Haunting of Bangour Village Hospital
Since its closure, Bangour Village Hospital has been left to decay and vandalism. The hospital has become a popular destination for urban explorers, photographers, and paranormal enthusiasts, who are drawn by its eerie atmosphere and mysterious history. The hospital has also been featured in several films and TV shows, such as The Jacket (2005), Outpost: Black Sun (2012), and The Crown (2016).
Many people believe that the hospital is haunted by the ghosts of its former patients and staff, who died or suffered there. Some of the reported paranormal phenomena include:
- Hearing voices, screams, laughter, footsteps, and music
- Seeing apparitions, shadows, orbs, and lights
- Feeling cold spots, touches, and pushes
- Smelling smoke, flowers, and disinfectant
- Experiencing nausea, headaches, and dizziness
Some of the most haunted locations in the hospital are:
- Ward 13, where the fire killed nine patients in 1927
- Ward 17, where the typhoid outbreak killed 11 patients and staff in 1937
- Ward 20, where a patient hanged himself in the bathroom
- The church, where a priest allegedly molested and killed a young girl
- The cinema, where a projectionist died of a heart attack
The Future of Bangour Village Hospital
The fate of Bangour Village Hospital is uncertain, as the site is owned by the NHS Lothian and is subject to planning and development proposals. In 2009, a plan to demolish the hospital and build 750 new homes was approved by the West Lothian Council, but was later rejected by the Scottish Government. In 2016, another plan to convert the hospital into a residential and commercial complex was submitted by the Bangour Village Trust, but was also rejected by the Scottish Government.
The hospital is currently listed as a Category A building, which means it is of national or international importance and should be preserved as much as possible. However, the hospital is also on the Buildings at Risk Register, which means it is in danger of being lost or damaged due to neglect or decay. The hospital is also protected by a conservation area status, which means it is of special architectural or historic interest and should be safeguarded from inappropriate development.
The hospital is not open to the public and is guarded by security. However, some people still manage to sneak in and explore the hospital at their own risk. The hospital is also visited by local groups and organisations, such as the Bangour Village Hospital History Group, which aims to document and share the history of the hospital and its people.