Winterton Hospital

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Winterton Hospital was a psychiatric hospital in County Durham, England, and was one of the largest[citation needed] in Europe.


A site for the Durham County Asylum was purchased in 1855 on land between the villages of Fishburn and Sedgefield. The hospital was designed by the architect John Howison, the surveyor for the county of Durham, as a three storey corridor plan asylum built in the Elizabethan style with 300 beds for inmates, along with a chapel and superintendent's quarters.

Between 1875 and 1880, a major extension of the hospital was undertaken by the architect William Crozier Jr. The new extension was based around the pavilion style creating space for an extra 400 inmates as well as adding a new chapel, water tower, stables and cottages.

Further major additions were made in the 1930s, providing new admission and administration blocks.

The hospital was very much self-sufficient, having its own farm and water supply. Town gas was supplied from the nearby Fishburn coke ovens. The hospital also had its own fire service, social club, cricket team and breed of pig.

Sedgefield General Hospital[edit]

With the outbreak of war in 1939, an emergency military hospital was built to the north of the site. This was built only as a temporary measure to last the duration of the war. However, after the end of the war in 1946 the buildings were left standing and in 1948 the hospital was handed over to the newly formed National Health Service to become Sedgefield General Hospital.

When services were moved to North Tees General Hospital in Stockton in the 1960s the site became a Community hospital providing services such as X-rays and respite care. Following the closure of the hospital, services were moved to a new purpose built hospital in Sedgefield which was opened by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2003.


With the onset of care in the community and changing attitudes towards mental health the decision was made to close the hospital in 1996 after nearly 140 years.

The site was later cleared of all buildings apart from some privately owned cottages and lodges on the site and the grade II listed St. Lukes chapel. Many of the mature tree lines were also preserved and incorporated into the new developments on the site.

During demolition contractors working on the site broke through into previously forgotten basement tunnels and rooms and discovered various preserved specimens taken from inmates. [1]


New homes have been built to the south of the site in the style of townhouses while the middle section has been used for various high-tech startup companies collectively known as Netpark.

The former Sedgefield General site to the north has planning permission for a secure residential centre to house people with low and medium risk mental health problems.[2]

League of Gentlemen[edit]

The father of The League of Gentlemen performer and writer Mark Gatiss worked at the hospital as an engineer. Gatiss has stated that his time spent growing up around the hospital has served as inspiration for some of the dark themes in the series.[3]


  1. ^ "Developers discover hospital underworld". The Northern Echo. 26 July 2000. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Go-ahead for 64-bed mental hospital". The Northern Echo. 23 June 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2009. 
  3. ^ "Renaissance gentleman". The Sunday Herald. 7 November 2004. Retrieved 8 April 2009. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°40′13″N 1°27′00″W / 54.6704°N 1.4501°W / 54.6704; -1.4501