South Ockendon Psychiatric Hospital
South Ockendon Psychiatric Hospital (known locally as The Colony) was a hospital for patients with severe learning difficulties and for patients with major and rare mental health illnesses. The hospital opened in 1932 as a "colony of mental defectives". It joined the NHS in 1948 when it was renamed. The hospital was built in several small, ground level clinics, which covered a quarter mile site.
The hospital included:
- Nursing Homes
- Psychiatric Clinics
- A Day Centre
- Psychotherapy Centre
- Function Hall (mini theatre used for the entertainment of patients)
- Swimming pool (only present for a few years during the 1960s)
In 1988, two of the buildings on the hospital site were in a state of dereliction defined as "Unsafe to Enter". Inspections were also made at the hospital itself, after serious complaints were made. In 1993, the NHS Trust closed the hospital after noting "appalling conditions inside the hospital and the suffering of older and mental patients". During 1994, existing patients were transferred to Runwell, Oldchurch Hospital (Romford) and the Essex County Hospital. Some were dispatched to mental homes across London & the South East and others were 'released into the community', i.e. into sheltered accommodation. As of January 2010 at least a dozen are still housed thus in South Ockendon.
The hospital was closed in late 1994 and largely demolished and redeveloped from 1995 onwards for 600+ new houses. Redevelopment was completed in 2000 and it is now known as Brandon Groves Estate. A graveyard that existed within the grounds of the hospital was retained during redevelopment. The only surviving building is the Function Hall complex which is now home to Brandon Groves Community Club. The large hall serves as a location for private parties, stage shows, wedding receptions and worthy community projects. The inscribed foundation stone of this building is clearly visible.