Fieldhead at 50

The programme for Fieldhead’s opening day in 1972

Today marks the Jubilee anniversary of Fieldhead Hospital.

On 11 July 1972, Wakefield welcomed Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy.  She officially opened Fieldhead hospital, bringing regional and national attention to the hospital’s ground-breaking model of mental health care provision.

From the outset, the hospital was built with therapeutic care at the heart of its architectural design scheme.  The prominent modernist architects, Yorke Rosenberg Mardall, designed a series of 20 modern villas which were named after local districts of Wakefield.

Architectural drawing of Fieldhead

The villas, set in attractive gardens, allowed people to receive treatment whilst enjoying the restorative beauty of nature and taking part in therapeutic gardening, arts, and sporting activities.

When Fieldhead was first created, both children and adults received treatment on site. Oulton Hall, Hatfield Hall and Cardigan Hospital shut down and their patients were transferred to the modern surroundings in Fieldhead.

Over the past 50 years, the site has seen some significant changes: Newton Lodge medium secure mental health unit was built on site in 1984 and rebuilt in 2014. Service users were moved to the Bretton Centre low secure mental health unit in 2009.  Newhaven, a low secure learning disability unit was established in 2010.  These centres provide essential psychiatric care and therapeutic treatments for people needing specialist supervision.

The closure of Stanley Royd Hospital in the late 1990s, with the move towards care in the community, gave rise to Fieldhead offering a broader range of psychiatric services.

Children are no longer treated on site in Fieldhead hospital but are looked after by the Trust’s CAMHS services in other Trust locations.  Support for people with learning disabilities is delivered through the Horizon Centre.

Caring gardens

Fast forward to 2022 and the Trust retains its commitment to the restorative impact of the environment.  The Service users are encouraged to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers in Fieldhead’s ‘Caring Gardens’.

The Mental Health Museum run a wildlife club, which is for people who live and work at Fieldhead Hospital.

More widely, the Trust has committed to becoming ‘Carbon Net Zero’ across all its estates.

The Trust has a formal volunteer service that was developed in 2016.  This was to ensure equal opportunities for people to volunteer across the Trust.  The central service is responsible for inpatient and community services.  It is a central hub for recruitment training and checks. Other volunteer service offers across the Trust include: recovery colleges, Live Well Wakefield, lay chaplains, creative minds and the befriender service.  Volunteer services work alongside students, staff and service users, carers and members of our community. If you would like to apply to be a volunteer, please contact:

The history of mental health care is carefully curated within Fieldhead’s unique Mental Health Museum.

Visitors to the museum are given fascinating insights into the complex history of the asylum system.  Historically, people were admitted to mental health asylums for a range of astonishing reasons.  For example: jealousy, daydreams, dizziness, forgetting to pay debts or looking admiringly at a neighbour’s wife.

Children in the museum

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Mental Health Museum closed its doors to the public.   Excitingly, now that Covid-19 restrictions are lifting, the museum is planning to relaunch its cultural and heritage offer to the community.  School children, university students and ‘history buffs’ have long enjoyed the museum’s unique offer.

Covid restrictions allowing, staff from the Mental Health Museum are planning a celebration day in September.  We will be back with more news on this soon but there will be a special 70s theme to our celebrations!  The event will coincide with Heritage Open Days so will give visitors a chance to explore the museum with some special objects out on display.  To find out more email

Dave Ogden, occupational therapy manager at Newhaven, commented: “I’ve been proud to work for the Trust in a variety of roles since 1976.  In the time I have been here, care delivery methods have modernised and changed.  The Trust’s core commitment to delivering excellent and creative care remains the same as the day that Fieldhead first opened.  Trust staff are also supported to live well through an excellent staff wellbeing offer.”

If you’d like to work with us, see our current vacancies on NHS Jobs.

John Laville, the Trust’s lead governor said: “I chose to become a governor at the Trust because I value the Trust’s longstanding commitment to delivering high quality care.  We are committed to equality of opportunity within the Trust.  We welcome job applications from people of all backgrounds who will help us to support service users in the diverse and vibrant communities we serve. I am pleased that the Trust is committed to implementing Trauma Informed Practices by 2030, that will continue to help our service users to live well.”

Fieldhead at 50

time to read: 3 min