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Friern Barnet Photo Archive

Friern Hospital
The Friern Barnet Photo Archive
Friern Hospital

The second Middlesex County Pauper Lunatic Asylum was opened in July 1851. At its height in 1937 it housed 2700 patients. it was renamed Colney Hatch Mental Hospital in 1930 and Friern Hospital in 1959. It closed in March 1993 and has been developed as luxury apartments and renamed Princess Park Manor. The main corridor was the longest in Europe, and ran the length of the building. A book by David Berguer, "The Friern Hospital Story" gives the history of the building. SEE ALSO IMAGE NUMBER 11 FOR MORE COMMENTS
Picture added on 05 October 2009 at 11:15
Such a shame to see such a wonderful hospital close. I worked there as a nurse and had many wonderful years there. It was such a huge hospital with the largest corridors, which was the largest in europe,,,,,, happy days
Added by Mary Duffy on 11 August 2010
I received my psychiatric nursing training at this hospital in the 1960's. I later worked there as a ward sister. The building was beautiful and I recall enjoying the well kept grounds. I do wish I had taken pictures of this place.

Added by Sybil Barnaby formally Harris on 21 May 2011
I worked here in the 80's and used to walk the length of the corridor daily to ward 26. I will always remember the great team I worked with.
Added by Berenice Hickey on 30 July 2011
Added by ROLAND THOMAS on 23 August 2011
I was employed there as a gardener before I joined the British Army in 1976. What a place, and it took an age to cut the grass!
Added by Malcolm McNally on 28 September 2011
I commenced at Friern, in 1960, entering preliminary training school, 3rd October, a class of 4 females. I passed my finals exams in 1964, and shortly after worked for 2 years on night duty, ward 6, which was mainly for "geriatric" patients, then a period of acting charge nurse on various wards, then a period of time on ward 5. MAV, and 2 Infirmary, Ward 4, before promotion to charge nurse in 1970. I resigned in September 1970, to emigrate to Australia. I do have negatives of photos taken during that period, and when they are reprinted, will endeavour to post them on this site. A very happy period for me.
Added by Peter Dunton on 09 February 2012
Our paths may have crossed at Friern since I resigned in 1972 from ward sister position on ward 21, schizophrenia research with Dr. Richard Hunter. I look forward to your pictures.
Added by Sybil Barnaby on 10 February 2012
It's so great to see so many great comments about Friern Hospital. It was a fab hospital and I had a great time working there. I worked with a great team and will never forget the good old days. It was such a shame it had to go. I will always remember the team I worked with in ward 11. Happy days xxx

Added by Mary Duffy on 13 February 2012
HELLO Sybil and Mary, I also spent much time on 11, and one period on 21, acting charge nurse in 1968. I remember though, Richard Hunter not believing in schizophrenia as an illness, and would not give patients ''major tranquilisers'', instesd prescribing vitamin B, and Tricloryl for sedative purposes, hence ward 21 could often be quite ''hectic''. Nothing since the like of Friern has worked since, and its the same here in Australia, closing all the hospitals.
I did visit Friern in 1986, and 1990, on a visit to the UK. I also visited Yorkshire, Where Chris Stutter (ex reception centre chsrge nurse) was working.
Added by Peter Dunton on 14 February 2012
My aunt Lilian Clarke was admitted there 17th August 1951 suffering from a nervous breakdown. She spent best part of 10 months there according to the papers I have. AC Dalwell or Dalyell was the physician superindendent at that time. Is there any way I can find out more about her during this time?
Added by Diane Gardner on 14 February 2012
A friend of mine has a flat in the new development at Friern Barnet. By a strange coincidence an elderly distant relative of mine was a patient there for many years & its amazing how much has changed over the years. I always get an eerie sensation when I'm visiting.
Added by Neil Nagle on 21 February 2012
Thanks Andrew, for making contact. Guys I used to work on ward eleven at Friern and a really good friend was just looking at this site who I used to work with nearly twenty years ago. Such a surprise to have heard from him, also we both lived together in the same nurses home, Blythe house. All I can say is Happy DAYS, XXX
Added by Mary Duffy on 27 February 2012
I trained as an RMN at Friern 1981-1984 and I agree.
Happy days! Would be good to hear from anyone who remembers me. Blythe House nurses home, what a place.
Added by George McCulloch on 04 May 2012
When I was at Friern, there were only the male and female nurses homes, with no names, although the male nurses home was often referred to as ''Bleak House''. Our greatest challenge was to get in and out of the female home undetected! With regard to the Dr Dayall, again during my time there, old timers used to refer to Dr Dazeil (spelt wrongly I know), but pronounced as De ell, as in the tv series Dalzeil and Pascoe.
Added by Peter Dunton on 05 May 2012
Hey George. I dont know if you remember me, but your name rings a bell,,,Did you train with Eddie Burns? He was such a nice guy, and as for Blythe House, a nurses home to remember, and it was such a mad place, but it was a fun place to be. I used to work on ward 11, care of the elderly, hard going. It was such a shame the place had to go.....

Added by MaRY DUFFY. on 06 May 2012
Hello Mary... sorry I dont remember you. I did not go to ward 11 in my training. Nearest was ward 8 with Sr Greene
Added by George McCulloch on 17 May 2012
Hay George I remember Sister Greene she was a fab sister to work with,,,.all I can say is those where the days xxxxxxxxxxx
Anonymous comment added on 18 May 2012
Does anyone know the whereabouts of Vince Ogorman, Micky Walsh, John Bowe, John Tugwood, Derek Elwood. We all worked together in the building department. The foreman was Alf Wilson.
Added by ROLAND THOMAS on 20 May 2012
Hay Roland. Mary here. I used to work at friern, such a great place. I remember Vince Ogorman but dont know his whereabouts. Have you tried Facebook, a great place to find people.
Added by MaRY DUFFY. on 20 May 2012
So sorry I do not know the people that Roland mentioned. But does anyone recall Mrs Keen a nurse supervisor or Ruth Elcock and ward sister? I worked on Villa 4, Haliwick, ward 21 and a few others. That was a great place to work.
Added by Sybil Barnaby on 26 May 2012
Can anyone help ? I would like to make contact with 2 couples from my Friern days: 1- Arthur & Val Burdett both trained as RMN's. Last I know they lived across from the hospital and possibly opened a Nursing home. 2- John & Jean Sterling or Stirling (surname not 100% sure ). They lived in High Barnet, we socialised together in the social club). Would be great to make contact again.
Added by George McCulloch on 26 May 2012
Hi Mary. Where in the hospital did you work? Do you remember John Lightfoot and my sister Clare Donaghue. She worked in Blyth House. Have you any idea where Chris THE ELECTRICIAN is?. I would like to get in touch. I'm living back home in Wales now.
Added by ROLAND THOMAS on 28 May 2012
Does anyone know about Andolie Luck; she was an artist and commissioned to paint the corridor; she did an interview in the Ham&High newspaper late 90's...ring any bells with anyone?
Added by Pamela on 21 August 2012
Does anyone remember a subterranean corridor linking New Southgate with the basement of the hospital?
Added by Pat on 25 August 2012
Hi, does anyone remember my nan. She was a SRN who worked in ward 21. Her name was Cathleen Broadbent. I spent many times as a child visiting Friern Barnet and I always remember that 21 ward was always locked.
Added by Kim Higgins on 29 December 2012
I grew up in Friern Barnet and used to often cycle past the old place. Does anyone have pictures of Blythe House (inside or out)?
I have a bunch of photos I took in the late 90's of the main hospital which I'll scan and upload soon.

Added by Harry on 08 January 2013
I was a refrigeration engineer from Morris & Young Ltd and would often be called out to Friern Hospital circa 1986-1992. I would first report to the Estates Dept round the back & from there be sent to various parts of the hospital. I remember the infamous corridor well as I often walked parts of it to the main building. It gave one a claustrophobic feeling that if something were to happen where would you escape to! In the redundant offices above the main reception I found boxes of old photos of the hospital & paraphernalia circa 1950 ''Come & visit Friern Hospital''. I was usually alone & serviced the Mortuary by the front entrance & would lock myself in & out with a huge metal Victorian key. You could hear a pin drop in there & the body fridge was operated by an old belt drive unit that would start with a loud bang which would get your nerves going! There was an old exhumed coffin on the disused mortuary slab with rotted satin, stains & all! Very creepy! The same goes for what was the disused bakery above the kitchens with its anti rooms, one of which had a small grate in the corner & a faded holiday brochure from 1977. A lot of the equipment I worked on was ancient but was so well maintained. I visited one of the new well appointed apartments on business, the associated hospital smells were gone but I was aware of an oddness about the place.
Added by Paul on 19 January 2013
My great-grandfather and his father before him both worked at this hospital from around about 1870 onwards. It is fascinating to read about the history of this place as it looked an impressive building.
Added by Sharron Horton on 20 January 2013
Hi Mary Duffy, I worked at Friern 1987 to 1992. My name is Rod Pearce. I used to hang about with Eddie Byrne. I worked with you and him on ward 5, I think it was. Great times.
Added by Rod Pearce on 11 February 2013
Hay Rod, How's tricks I remember you. I'm still in London work for Ealing Council education, special needs for the last 13 years. Lost contact with Eddie Burns he was a great guy. Have tried facebook but no joy. How are u and hay what are I up to? Take good care. Xm
Added by Mary Duffy on 11 February 2013
Hi Rob, I remember you, great times. I haven't heard from Eddie in an age, he was such a great guy full of life and fun just like yourself. I'm still in London working for Ealing Council now for the last 13 years really enjoy it, Where are you at the moment, do you still nurse? Have tried facebook to get in contact with Eddie but no joy. Great to see you on here take care Rob ,kind regards.x
Added by Mary Duffy on 12 February 2013
I worked there in the 80's. At Halliwick for a while, then with a fantastic team, Charge Nurse Alan Wilkinson. I moved here to Singapore in 1991. xxx
Added by Berenice Egan on 12 February 2013
Hi Mary, I'm still nursing down in Dorset. Haven't heard from Eddie for a few years now. I loved it at Friern, and all the great laughs we had. Do you remember singing with me in the pub on a karioke night?. Rod x
Added by Rod Pearce on 13 February 2013
No must have being drunk,, ha ha only joking .hat are you on face book look me up ,,,,,those were the days,,,great laughs.......xgreat to have heard from you .... are you on face book x
Added by Mary Duffy on 14 February 2013
Great ' you all had such a great time working there, but for us patients is was a different story. I was a nurse returning from Saudi Arabia and was sectioned to Friern in 1987, after a break down. I remember being terrified, especially at night where I was regularly, sexually abused, by a night nurse, who used to sneak into my small roomth which was opposite the office. The day room was Locked while the night staff slept in the linen cupboard I was cold and wanted a blanket, but was told to go back to bed. When I complained, I was picked on by staff or ignored The lack of compassion and directional attitude from staff,towards patients, to this day sends a chill down my body. My forced ECT has left me with a lot of long term memory loss and was the worst experience of my life. After I left there some 6 months later, I vowed to train as an RMN and try to change the attitude of engrained behaviour, that staff in the field had become used to. I did and up to 4 years ago worked tirelessly to set a high standard and reported many for their shocking behaviour towards, marginalised, vulnerable , disempowered patients. How many of you did that in your time at this hospital?

Added by Jenny wren on 24 February 2013
Jenny, I was very upset to read what happened to you while you had to stay at the hospital. Sadly among thousands of staff who worked there over the years there will be one or two bad apples and I fully understand why you still feel so angry, but its very unfair to hint if we worked there we were all as bad as that one person you mentioned. Sadly sexual abuse goes on everywhere, from churches, Children homes, the list goes on. I'm sure I speak for everyone who read your post that had this happened when I was there it would have been reported and if nothing was done the police would have become involved. During the 5 years I was there one nurse was reported for abuse and he was sacked and struck off the nursing register. The staff did care and thou Friern looked a bleak building the level of care was better than places I worked after which looked far better.
The reason we are posting about memories, good times etc is this site is aimed for former staff. None of us would laugh at what happened to you and I'm sorry the system let you down. I believe in Karma, whoever did that will get punished later if they havent already.
Added by Andrew Leach on 25 February 2013
Jenny, I'm really shocked and quite distressed to read this. But I would like to add we are not all bad apples, and Inunderstand why you are sooo angry at the system but please do not hint we are as bad as that person its so unfair and i mean that. Sadly in this world we live in to day it goes on and this makes me quite sad. I worked at Friern Hospital for six years and worked along side Andrew and many more staff where the level of care was the upmost and i would like to say one thing if I saw this abuse in my time it would have being reported and if I felt nothing was done I would have gone to the police. It might have being a bleak place the level of care was fab. Reasons why I'm posting about good memories because it was, along with good times, in my time of nursing at Friern I always looked at the client if it was my mother or father and how would I feel in their postion.mIm sooo sorry the system has let you down but dont blame us its sooo unfair,Theres always one bad apple, please remember that .god bless.I believe in what goes around comes around, every dog has its day. It's called Karma.
Added by Mary Duffy on 25 February 2013
Yes I guess you are right, there was and still is a terrible part of my life, that has never left me and that is Hallwick House. Every time I hear of Friern Barnet, I feel physically sick and thank God it has closed down. It was after watching the documentary about Princess Alice's abduction and incarnation in Swiiterzland and subsquent appalling treatment, that once again brought it all come flooding back. Thank Goodness mental health care, has inched its way forward. However units still use chemical coshs and containment, with little nurse interaction, as most can be seen in the office, behind a door or glass partition. We can but live in hope.

Added by Jenny wren on 26 February 2013
Dear Jenny, It is with a great deal of pain that I have come to learn of your experience at Friern. Please I beg of you do not blame yourself. I feel as if I would love to hug you and let it all go away, but life is not like that. I worked at Friern between 1968 and 1972 and had no clue that any such behaviours existed from staff. I pray that your trust in humanity will resurface and make the rest of your life more peaceful and trusting. God Bless.Sybil

By the way does anyone remember Mrs Keane, nursing supervisor or Sister Ruth Elcock? I worked in Villa 4, Halliwick, ward 21 and a few others.
Added by Sybil Barnaby on 26 February 2013
Hi George, I trained with you Set 71, happy times. I am still nursing and cherish the happy times at Friern, seems like yesterday. Are you still in touch with anyone from our Set? Sadly John died over 20 years ago. Still miss him very much. Hope all is well.
Added by Deborah on 22 June 2013
Hi Deborah, I remember you, your laughter was contagious! I heard John died, so sad. Not heard from any of Group 71 except to say I was at Lorna's wedding many years ago. I hear from Ava & Shamil in Group 70 that I moved on to. All is not so bad I took early retirement 2 years ago at 52 and really enjoying it. I occasionally wonder whatever happened to Sandy & Richard?
Added by George McCulloch on 29 June 2013
Hi George,
How lovely to hear from you. Glad to hear you are enjoying retirement. Yep not sure what happened to Sandy & Richard. I kept in touch with Tina, (who was in the same set as Ava and Shamil) for many years but lost touch a few years back. It does not seem possible that we are now in our 50's. Spk soon. Take Care, Deborah
Added by Deborah on 02 July 2013
I trained at Friern hospital and subsequently worked there from 1973-1980. It was an amazing time for me as country girl from Devon suddenly immersed in London life and the multicultural friends and colleagues I worked alongside.
It was wonderful time of my life and I learnt so much, loved it.
Anyone remember me? Shelley Beaton as was?
Anonymous comment added on 24 September 2013
Should have added my email address.
Anonymous comment added on 25 September 2013
These pictures bring back memories. Most of my family worked at Friern shortly after they immigrated to London. This would have been throughout the 60's - 80's. I vividly remember the coffee-lounge and huge canteen, and the laundry where one of my uncles worked. The corridors where immense and I regularly walked them with my parents. Also, the social-club near the entrance toward the right as you enter was full of characters. I still remember a few of the patients, and the nick-names we gave them as children. What nostalgia. Thanks for these wonderful pictures.
Anonymous comment added on 08 October 2013
Wow ... What happy memories these bring back I did my RMN 1971 started on Decimal Day 15/2/71 ... Was then Kathy Higgins then Foreman now Paterson ! Loved my time there and yes I remember a Sister Duffy ... Nearly 43 yrs later still nursing !
Added by Kathleen Paterson nee Kathy Higgins on 29 January 2014
I found this site from a search after listening to the BBC book of the week - The Last Asylum by Barbara Taylor. It was a very interesting & sensitive take on such a difficult subject.
Added by Gunner Graham on 21 February 2014
Found postcard dated 1951 to a Miss Margaret Tappenlen working in ward 15 from Norman on holls in Devon would be in eighties now
Added by Jim on 11 July 2014
Hi, I was reading all of your comments and thought you wouldn't mind me writing mine. Although I'm not a nurse I'm 32 and have some lovely childhood memories of the place. My uncle John Wilcox ran the social club on the grounds in the early to late 80's. I never felt scared or that it was in any way a horrible place. I remember the fetes they had on the grass to the left on the way in, and on the right a massive tree with over hanging branches that we used to play and hide under. My mum lives quite close to it, so when I go past I still give the place a smile.
Added by Katie Pickin on 21 August 2014
Hi there to you all. I was with Jim the United Dairies milk man, pulling the float was Gladys the horse. I was about nine years old until I was thirteen. I knew all the staff at the gate house and went into the morgue on a couple of occasions. The grounds were so large, it always seemed to take for ever going round, with all the stops we had to make. I did talk to the staff, who were always kind to me, although I cannot remember their names. I also chatted to some of the patients, even though Jim told me not to. Well, that's kids for you. Gladys would always leave behind her calling cards, in big piles which, once I had finished the round, I would pull my trolley, homemade of course, around the hospital grounds and collect her rose treatment. I would then take it to all my regular customers for their gardens. I had to make money somehow!! One time I remember, passing a small courtyard at the back of the hospital, the light was fading and I could hear strange noises. I stopped to take a good long look. It was a man and a nurse dancing against a wall. Later in life I found that I enjoyed that style of dancing!!! Well life goes on and now I am almost seventy and retired. I became a commercial diver, travelled the world and had many children, which I attribute to my early dancing lessons. To all of you, take care, stay safe and happy.
Added by Rufus Jones on 23 February 2015
There were great times at Friern, I remember myself and Eddie Byrne borrowing the wig off the male manequin in the Bakehouse Boutique and wearing it around the hospital!. How did we got away with it?

Added by Rod Pearce on 05 March 2015
I used to cycle along that corridor when I was on duty at night. I was a psychiatric resident; my room was in the tower above the front entrance. I worked for two consultants: Dr Bruce and Dr Bradley, and my fellow medical officer was Dr Roger Kennedy. I value my experience at Friern very highly to the present day
Added by Paul Brown on 06 March 2015
Hello, I worked at Friern between 1987 and 1989. Have you read 'The Last Asylum' all about Friern and notes many abuses at that time. I remember as a student nurse being quite shocked by some treatments of patients. Some of my group went on television and talked about patients being tied to toilets and washed with their vests!
Added by Hilda Sheehan (King) on 09 April 2015
Hi Hilda, you are right abuse did happen and sadly we can not pretend otherwise. I was there from 1988 - 1992 and reported a charge nurse who had been abusing elderly female patients for years but was covered up by staff and doctors. By this time glad to say were many new staff and nursing officers who took it to UKCC and sacked him. My impression from time I was there that many staff had been there too long and treated the patients as a nuisance nothing more. Read Last Asylum excellent book, was based mostly at Halliwick house from what I remember, did overtime couple of times there was lovely building from what I remember. Closed soon after I started.
Added by Andrew Leach on 10 April 2015
So there we have it all I said as a patient is true, that myself included were abused whilst inpatients there
Added by Jennywrena on 11 April 2015
Well I said I was repeatedly sexually abused in hallowell by a Mauritian night nurse and when asked for bedding as I was cold, was told to back to bed as they were sleeping in the linen room. My complaints fell on deaf ears and I was picked on by staff. Dreadful dreadful place.
Added by Jennywren on 11 April 2015
I, and my older brother, were choirboys at St John's church next door to the hospital from around 1970 to 76... We frequently had patients come in to the church and disturb the practice or service... prostrate themselves in front of the altar etc. We always treated them with great respect. I remember vividly Myself and my brother accompanying one chap back to the hospital late one evening and chatting on the way about how it would be helpful if the road was made of rubber so that he didn't hurt himself so much (as he was prone to fall). Little were we to know that my brother,sadly, would become seriously mentally ill himself in his late teens and was in and out of all kinds of institutions until his death in his mid 50s just over a year ago. I know institutions like Friern were by no means perfect, but the 'care in community' initiative really did my brother no favours at all. I so wish we hadn't closed so many hospitals like Friern as I honestly believe he would have been best served by being a resident in one.
Added by Richard on 10 June 2015
Does anyone know if there was any asbestos present in any of the hospital buildings. I strongly suspect that there was. I worked there in the 1980s and early 1990s and recall lagging hanging form pipes, paint peeling off of walls etc. Due to a compensation claim any information would be gratefully received. Many thanks.
Added by Anonymous on 07 September 2015
Hi anonymous, I worked at Friern from 1987-1992 and don't know if there was asbestos there but it wouldn't surprise me as it was such an old building and run down. I do hope not otherwise a lot of us could be in trouble. Please let us know if you find out.
Added by Rod pearce on 09 September 2015
When I was doing research for my book 'The Friern Hospital Story' I visited the Royal Free Hospital Archives in Hampstead and discovered quite a lot of material relating to the closure and decommissioning of Friern Hospital. The final cost of decommissioning was around £900,000 plus a further £500,000 for cleaning up the land to the south which had been used for tipping. I don't remember seeing anything relating to asbestos but it would be worth investigating
Added by David Berguer, Chairman on 09 September 2015
I have just started a Facebook group called Frien Hospital Memories. Please join and share all your stories and pictures.

Added by Andrew Leach on 10 September 2015
Thank you both for your comments. I shall keep you posted.
Added by Joseph on 10 September 2015
Anyone remember Alan? A tall Scottish nurse? I remember he argued hard for Friern not to be closed down, can anyone tell me anymore?
Added by Michael on 09 November 2015
His name was Alan Mckekern and he was charge nurse on ward 23 when I worked there in 1989. He was also a staunch Union man with chose. Hope that helps?

Added by Rod pearce on 09 November 2015
Meant cohesion!
Added by Rod pearce on 14 November 2015
McKekern probably McEachern?
Anonymous comment added on 19 November 2015
Hey anyone around from 1983 set Ian Mick Eugene Barney and others
Added by Ian Mckay on 31 December 2015
Does any film aerial footage of the site before it was sold off to become Friern Village?
Added by Julia Nurse on 06 January 2016
See image number 8241
Added by David Berguer, Chairman on 07 January 2016
I walked that corridor as a young teenager. Visiting my sister in the mid to late 80s. For me it was a scary place at that age. I know my sister gave you RMN's a hard time while she was in there and I thank one and all who worked there for their support and understanding. She was violent, unpredictable and very nasty at times. I know this because I was once at a student RMN party on a road opposite the entrance to the hospital (I dated a RMN for a while) and happened to mention my sister's name to a nurse. Her reaction was of fear, confusion and tears. I later found out that my sister tried to kill her. I loved my sister so much but I could see that my sister had had a very dramatically negative affect on this nurse. Mental instability has such a strong affect on all.
I was one on my way to the Green Man pub at the top of Muswell Hill for a night out with a group of friends. We had just got off the 134 and found my sister walking down the middle of the road with not a stich on. She was dripping in blood, from countless self inflicted razor blade slashes all over her body. At 15 years old, I had to grow up quick. She lost her battle on Feb 20 1990 to.a tube train 7 days before my 21st. She left little girl behind who was conceived at the hospital by another patient. I don't want to piss on all your fond memories of yours and I am aware that, (and I quote from a previous post by Andrew Leach) this site is "for former staff ". But a pinch of reality from all perspectives keep us all grounded. Respectful, Daz.
Added by Daren hoey on 19 January 2016
Hi Daren, I was a nurse there and vaguely remember your sister and it must have been very tough being a 15 year old and having to see her so unwell. The hospital was a freaky place at night walking along those corridors! Hope you have been able to get on with your life since those days?.
Added by Rod Pearce on 19 January 2016
Hello Daren, I was very moved reading your story and thank you so much for sharing. I think the quote you used which I had written was regarding someone who used the forum to complain about the hospital and staff. Got that 134 bus to the Green Man many times! That corridor at night was a very scary place, I had to walk the entire length to get to the nurses home, at night chose to walk outside the building!. Thank you again for your moving story.
Added by Andrew Leach on 19 January 2016
Hi Rod. Thanks for your comment. I try to be as pragmatic as I can in life and that has helped me through life (so far). Not forgetting a generous helping of humour. On one of her good days she shared a joke with me that has helped keep a good perspective. A man on the phone to reception asked to be put through to ward 11 to inquire whether bed 7 is vacant. The nurse replied yes. The man replied "Good. That means I've escaped". Her bravery in finding that funny being the point. Paticularly because the day before she was in such a dark place she tried to cut her own ear off. We also had a bit of a giggle about the irony that she couldn't paint for toffee so emanating an old master was probably misguided. Having a close member of the family take their own life makes a hole in a family that can't be ever filled again ever. But the wisdom one can gain from that is passed on to any one that could use it. That stops her death being in vain.

To all RMN'S that may stumble across this post. On behalf of all the family's of the patient's you help, thank you. When and if you lose sight of why you chose this vocation because I imagine it can be a thankless task at times. You're not just helping people in your wards you're also helping their families. Thanks again. Daz.
Added by Daren Hoey on 20 January 2016
Hello all, how interesting these stories and memories are. Does anyone remember an old aunt of mine? Her name was Kathleen sometimes known as Kitty Pernet. I'm not sure of the years she was there but she died in 1990. Any info would be lovely. Thanks in advance
Added by Kate Ryan on 12 April 2016
Hello Kate, Would you remember what ward she was on? I do remember a lady we called Kitty on ward 11 during the time I worked there which would have been during that time frame
Added by Andrew Leach on 13 April 2016
Hi Andrew
I don't remember the ward number. I suppose she could have been in there for 20 years up to 1990. Maybe longer! Can I email you to pick your brains? No one still alive I can ask about her to. Kate
Added by Kate on 13 April 2016
I was a friend of Kathy Paterson nee Higgins and used to visit her at the hospital in early 1970 I have lost touch since I retuned to Ireland would love to hear from her would appreciate if you could give me her email address thank you
Added by Mary Ryan on 21 May 2016
Wow .... Mary blast from the past ! Love to hear from you ...
Added by Kathleen Paterson nee Higgins on 21 May 2016
Rodney Pearce please get in touch with me, sad news regarding Ed Byrne......Regards. ..x can be contacted on 0790615099
Anonymous comment added on 30 May 2016
This is an urgent message for Rod Pierce , can you contact me concerning a close friend who has passed away, who has worked closely with both of us, Heart broken Rod...........my number is 07990615099
Added by Mary Duffy on 30 May 2016
Hello. My name is Helen and I am Eddie Byrne's wife. Very sadly my darling Ed passed away on Friday after a long illness. I am so sorry to be telling those who knew him well in this way. But I can tell you he continued to be hugely loved by everyone who knew him and it doesn't sound from these posts as if he changed one bit.nVery sorry if this makes you sad. Nobody could be sadder than me right now.
Added by Helen byrne on 30 May 2016
Hi Helen so sorry for your loss. Ed was a great guy, full of life and a fabulous nurse. I'm heartbroken for the family. Was contacted by his sister Karen yesterday and tried to find her on facebook however couldn't find. You can contact me on 07990615099...would love to hear from you. God bless take care.....
Added by Mary duffy on 31 May 2016
I realize this is a shot in the dark but does anyone remember a patient Izzy Elbling? He was committed (unnecessarily) in 1935 and lived there until his death in 1990. I visited him once in 1985 and was told by the doctor on duty that Izzy had a wicked sense of humor, which had once led News of the World printing an 'expose' of the hospital. Any information about Izzy would be greatly appreciated.
Added by Peter Elbling on 05 August 2016
Hi 🖐

Added by Tracey on 23 August 2016
Hi there to you all. I was with Jim the United Dairies milk man, pulling the float was Gladys the horse. I was about nine years old until I was thirteen. I knew all the staff at the gate house and went into the morgue on a couple of occasions.
The grounds were so large, it always seemed to take for ever going round, with all the stops we had to make. I did talk to the staff, who were always kind to me, although I cannot remember their names. I also chatted to some of the patients, even though Jim told me not to. Well, that's kids for you. Gladys would always leave behind her calling cards, in big piles which, once I had finished the round, I would pull my trolley, homemade of course, around the hospital grounds and collect her rose treatment. I would then take it to all my regular customers for their gardens. I had to make money somehow!!
One time I remember, passing a small courtyard at the back of the hospital, the light was fading and I could hear strange noises. I stopped to take a good long look. It was a man and a nurse dancing against a wall. Later in life I found that I enjoyed that style of dancing!!!
Well life goes on and now I am almost seventy and retired. I became a commercial diver, travelled the world and had many children, which I attribute to my early dancing lessons. To all of you, take care, stay safe and happy.
Work at the hospital in the early 1960's removing lagging from pipes repair work painting & decorating General Maintainance worked with Danny McCardle
Added by Chris Woodness ( WOODY) lived @ No 7 Holly park Lane, attended Holly park school until1960.
Added again for my late father Chris Woodness
Passed away 3 June 2016 Mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos.
What a huge Character RIP WOODY 🙏🏼
Added by Tracey Nish. Nee Woodness on 13 September 2016
Hi Tracey
My husband Ed Byrne also worked at Friern and died May 2016 from mesothelioma due to suspected asbestos exposure. He was only 52. I am very sorry for your loss but mesothelioma is rare yet three people who worked at Friern have died very recently from the same disease. Surely this can't be a coincidence?
Added by Helen byrne on 19 September 2016
I visited Friern on an Induction Course before starting work as a Mental Health Nurse .. I was surprised to discover some of the patints on the wards were actually left there by their mother or other member of their family ... One of the lovely ladies I cared for was left at 12 years old, she went on to stay helping on the ward ... To working until she was over retirement age to become a patient ... And given the chance to move into a flat ... She was quite upset as she classed Friern as her home .. And of cause she stayed X but I loved The Corridors weren't scary when you were used to working there .
I know on finishing my shift late at night I could go into the canteen for a Roast Dinner .
Added by RosieFanning on 20 September 2016
Hi, I just wondered if anyone who worked at Friern as a nurse /mental health professional remembered Dorothy Lawrence, the journalist who famously got to the front line in 1915, disguised as a soldier? She spent most of her life there and died there in 1968. I am researching and writing a sympathetic drama for Television about her life - to finally put her story on the map - so to speak. I'd love to speak to or interview anyone who knew something of her or perhaps even nursed her. I am keen to portray her life there accurately. Do email me.
Added by Louise Spain on 10 November 2016
I think you will find she died in 1964
Added by Jim on 13 November 2016
Have just heard of the very sad news of the death of my mate Eddie Byrne. Gutted mate.x
Added by Rod pearce on 10 March 2017
I was a nursing assistant here just before it closed. I agree with the general consensus, good times for staff, but hell for a lot of the patients. Good to see some old names from the past.
Added by Andrea Hoare on 03 June 2017
Hi, does anyone recall whether there was a part of the hospital known as the Service Tunnel where only plumbers and maintenance staff were allowed to go? I'm trying to place all the places at Friern where my late husband Ed (Eddie) Byrne would have gone in his capacity as a Nurse in the mid-late 1980s. From what I understand nurses would frequently go to the maintenance departments to report faulty equipment etc. just wondering if anyone would remember or be able to locate any maps of Friern showing any "tunnels" or did they not exist? I'd be really grateful if anyone could comment, or can recall Ed and where in the hodpital he might have gone in the course of a working day. Many thanks, Helen
Added by Helen byrne on 06 September 2017
I trained there from May 1990 and completed my training in 1993, shortly after it closed. Rod I think I remember you from Ward 23, I remember Alan and Fred Kennedy. I also remember Andrew from Blyth House. I'm still a mental health nurse working in the community in Hackney. The parties in Friern were great, the social club dirt cheap and as for the Turretts....nuff said. Does anyone remember Major General the domestic? He lived next door to me in Blyth House. He was a bit....well....smelly for want of a better word....
Added by Anne Sherry (nee Martin) on 18 January 2018
I worked at Friern as secretary to Tina Hollis who was the occupational health nursing advisor, now sadly deceased. It was such a lovely place to work in. Very sad when it closed.
Added by Linda Wright on 03 March 2018
I trained at Friern 1975-78, and worked the again as a staff nurse on Islington Villa, 1979-80. Anyone the me? I was Janet Parry, then, later Janet Hueter
Added by Sioned Wynn on 07 May 2018
I worked at Friern Hospital between 1975 and 1980. Remember taking patient to the cinema in Wood Green.
Added by Ivy Landell on 03 July 2018
I had a relative there. My record begins with the 1938 census but he could have been admitted earlier. All I know is that he died in 1981 still an inmate/patient at Friern Hospital. He was an adopted african boy back in 1905 and his name was Sylvester Ohene Quarde. I would love to know if anyone remembers him as I feel sad that he may not have had a good start or end to his life. Thank you.
Added by Lorna Macey on 03 October 2018
This awful place holds such awful memories for so many and this jovial thread must be a real slap in the face for any ex-patients reading. I recently read Barbara Taylor's book - what an incredible woman she is. What worries me is how many of you knew of the rape, physical abuse and neglect that went on and did nothing? And where are these bullies and dangerous individuals working now?! I worked with RMNs in my last job and most of them were odd. As an RGN knowing this stuff went on as late as the ‘80’s is an absolute disgrace. You can even note on the NMC misconduct hearings a disproportionate number of those being investigated are MALE RMNs! Unbelievable.
I only hope these poor patients managed to make some lives for themselves... I have needed help from mental health services and am eternally grateful I never had to deal with anywhere like this. By god did we need the patient advocate movement. RIP to all who rotted in these old places while staff slept, gossiped and did god knows what else when they were supposed to be providing care for the most vulnerable, excluded members of society.

Added by A nurse on 11 October 2018
You never worked there then?!
Added by An RMN. on 11 October 2018
To A Nurse. I am researching my family tree and it was only a few months ago that discovered Sylvester Quarde. I could not believe that he could have been there for most of his life. No living member of the family knew of him which made it worse. I do hope that when you refer to a jovial thread it is not directed to individuals like me who are trying to understand why. This thread is the only hope I have as such records are not accessible to the public. I was hoping that someone reading this may have knew him. I do not take this matter lightly. Maybe if you knew of this you could have done something and not place the guilt on to others who didn't know. I know if I had known I certainly would have helped this man.
Added by Lorna Macey on 11 October 2018
Does anyone remember a patient Lilian Brett. Admitted in 1928 and remained there until her death in 1966/67. She was my great grandmother. We have almost no information on her at all. Thanks in advance
Added by Lucie on 02 February 2019
Have you looked on the 1939 Census?
Added by Lorna Macey on 02 February 2019
I was a Mental Health nurse and Friern was used during the war to care for the men and women returning from the war. The injured were cared for there.

Added by Rosie Fanning on 03 February 2019
I worked in wards 23 24 and 26, leaving in 1983 to work on the District Nursing in Haringey, Highgate, .Hampstead and Hornsey but whilst working in Friern Hospital (of which there is much history ) I came across an elderly patient, a very sweet elderly lady, always ready with a smile and a thumbs up as I entered the ward to be on duty. One evening when patients had been TLCd (Tender loving Cared for) and those taxation were up and watching TV.I began to look through patient's histories. The sister on duty said I might be interested in a certain one - lovely lady with the ready smile. .I would often sit and talk to her although she could not speak, the history when my patient was just a little girl in Russia during the Pogram. Her parents had been murdered and their bodies left on the floor in the lounge. When the police came they were surprised by a door movement, .they checked behind the door and found a child no more than 6 years old. She had survived for two weeks as this was how long they suspected her parents had been killed. She was never to speak again but was cared for.Then at the age of 15 she was sent to England and became a patient in Friern Hospital. She was always fed by the nurses but one night a nurse on duty had made herself a sandwich in the kitchen on the ward on a tray with a glass of milk, for later, when the nurse returned the sandwich had gone and some of the milk.
Another night a few days later it happened again. Then one night she saw the young one going in and was able to see her eating and drinking herself. From that day on she was given her food to manage herself. When I read her history it made me cry but knowing how happy she was in her silent world made me feel a little better.

Added by Rosie Fanning on 03 February 2019
Same here my relative was Sylvester Quarde - similar circumstances. Would be great to hear from someone who knew of him. He was of African descent and was adopted. Such a sad life. You should look up the 1939 census for Friern Barnet Hospital. Someone kindly directed me there which is how I found out where he was most of his life.
Added by Lorna on 03 February 2019
I worked there as a 19 year old in 1989 when I’d just moved to London from Northern Ireland. QqqqqqqqI was secretary to Chris Burford, Consultant Psychiatrist at St Ann’s, and went up to Friern one day a week to set up a database for patient records at the time of the Resettlement Programme where long-stay patients were being discharged into community settings. I can’t really remember any of the staff, except for a nurse who may have been called Choo. And I think the person in charge at the time may have been called Jack Hallett. I remember a patient called Orville who had been a surveyor prior to admission to hospital and he always came to the office to talk to me and to look at my computer screen as he said it reminded him of a Theodolite. It was a daunting place to work and quite harrowing to read some accounts of the long-stay patients. It’s always stayed in my memory.
Added by Paula on 24 April 2019
I remember being wheeled through that corridor on the way to the WW2 emergency operating room in 1943. I was aged 9 then.
My bed was in what had been the mens ward before the war. The surgeons saved my right arm which had developed gangrene and would otherwise been amputated. There was an even younger child there with both femurs broken - maybe Terry?
Added by Anthony on 28 December 2019
I remember Jack Hallet! Anyone know what happened to him?
Added by Ms Sioned Wynn on 03 January 2020
Dear A Nurse and Lorna Macey, I'm so sorry that some of these posts are painful to read. I agree that there was abuse and that it was awful. As a young student nurse, I naively believed that I'd be able to change things once I qualified. I couldn't, of course! And I witnessed how often others closed ranks on those who whistleblowed. When I understood how entrenched things were, and how powerless I was, I stopped nursing and went into different work. I have fond memories of some of the people there, but am very glad it (and other similar hospitals across the UK) closed.
I returned to mental health nursing (in the community) many years later - and was very glad to see how much things had changed.
Wishing those of you who are trying to track relatives well.

Added by Ms Sioned Wynn on 03 January 2020
Rest in peace Ted. Xx
Added by Rod pearce on 27 May 2020
Does anyone remember Janet Alford who was a Sister and later a Matron. Janet was my mother and I remember visiting Friern and having to go through locked doors.
Added by Terry Hurst on 05 July 2020
The name Janet Alford rings a bell in my memory, but it is unclear if my memory serves me well. After all I left Friern in 1972. If I am on target I recall a tall brown haired lady who was soft spoken and approachable.
Added by Sybil V Barnaby on 09 July 2020
Sybil, that does sound like my mother, she made people feel at ease. Thank you for replying.
Added by Terry Hurst on 10 July 2020
Please any info on Maria Theresa Scanlon 68-91. My grandma I visited her when I was so young. She seemed so caring I really want to know anything about my grandma. Any information I know nothing of her family except her children.
Added by Stacei on 14 October 2020
Please does anyone remember an Irish woman who was at the hospital from 1969 until her death in 1991. Her name was Maria Teresa Scanlon. She was my grandmother and just trying to find out about her as I have no information about her. Many thanks for any help you can give me.
Anonymous comment added on 14 October 2020
My father in law (Charlie Wrighton) used to drink in the Orange Tree in the 1930's and he told us of a small girl whose mother took her around the pubs to sing to the drinkers for a few pence:- her name was Vera Lynn!
Added by Douglas Gooch-Harris on 15 November 2020
I had the misfortune to do an 8 week stint here as part of my SRN training AT UCH. My 8 weeks finished on Christmas Eve in 1981. It was the most horrific experiencte, the abuse I witnessed but I was too young and scared to report it. I just needed to get my record signed off and get out of there. I am sorry I did not say anything back at UCH I saw Male patients abuse female ones as they were not segregated on the ward I was on. The permanent staff thought it was funny!
Anonymous comment added on 29 November 2020
I volunteered on Radio Friern between 1977-93 we tried to lift the gloom and got regular requests from patients & staff. Remember Flora from Ward 17, Catherine from Ward 32 & Ken who I used to get Arsenal programmes for. First day there I met Big Charlie who I believe used to be a Greengrocer he always called me Colin. Years later I learned Colin was Charlie’s son who had been killed in a road accident. The Radio Station was under the wing of Eric Walsh the Voluntary Services Officer who was a real character. We have a You Tube Channel dedicated to Radio Friern and are hoping to celebrate 50 years since the station formed in 1971 with an e book later this year.
Added by Pete Hill on 25 January 2021
Hi Pete did you know or hear of a Sylvester Quarde or Wilkes. He was in Friern Barnet from around 1939 until he died is the 80s.

Added by Lorna Macey on 25 January 2021
Hi Lorna
Sorry doesn’t ring any bells with me but I’ll put a message on the Radio Friern Facebook group to see if anyone there remembers him. Pete
Added by Pete Hill on 26 January 2021
Lorna. I don't recall the name but if you have a photo of him, maybe one of the Radio Friern team might recognise him.
Added by Martin Rosen on 26 January 2021
Hi Pete and Martin that would be great thank you. Sorry I don't have any photos of him. All I know that he was born around 1906 - originally said adopted on the 1911 Census but when I obtained a birth certificate it looked like he was illegitimate. His father was African. I don't know when he was admitted and on the 1939 census he did not have a profession listed as did others so he may have come to the hospital very young. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Added by Lorna Macey on 26 January 2021
Does anyone recall sister Ruth Elcock? She was from Trinidad, West Indies. I would love to reconnect with her.
Added by Sybil Barnaby on 26 January 2021
Hi I retrieved a death certificate of a relation who died in Friern Barnet Hospital in 1981. The person who signed his death was a Sonia Love. I was wondering whether she would have been a nurse of registrar for the hospital. Does anyone know of her. I also have the signature of a Dr. Joan Garner. Again does anyone know of her. My relative was Sylvester Quarde. Thank you.
Added by Lorna Macey on 09 February 2021
I worked at Friern in the 80s - OT. I did 6 months on ward 36 - along with the cockroaches and the rest on ward 16. Some horrors - as well as some joy - a baptism of fire for a girl of 21! An inspiration was Joy Dalton, Consultant, but also many of the other doctors (on rotation) and nurses I met. I am still in touch with the Music Therapist Michele as we became good friends through working together
Added by Sue on 16 February 2021
Hi Sue would you recollect a Sylvester Quarde?
Added by Lorna Macey on 16 February 2021
Sue, did you take care of women or men or both?
Added by Peter Elbling on 16 February 2021
Lorna - I don't recall that name, sorry. Peter - Women geriatric - although I worked on the male geriatric with the music therapist...ward 16 male, female and other!
Added by Sue on 16 February 2021
Hi Sue. Thank you.
Added by Lorna Macey on 17 February 2021
Hi there,does anyone remember Mercia, she worked in the kitchen also worked at the new development when they were developing the new site, was friendly with her sister Angela Garcia, they were Spanish, would love to get in contact with Angela. Does anyone know of there whereabouts, kind regards, Mary
Added by Mary Duffy on 17 February 2021
Hi Sue, I realize it's a while ago but I just wondered whether you ever encountered my great uncle, who went by the name of Izzy Elbling. He might well have been with the music therapist. He have been in his 70s probably. Thanks

Added by Peter Elbling on 17 February 2021
Came across this site several months ago. I was shocked to hear of the death of Eddie Byrne. Sorry Helen. I think you knew Alan Wilkinson and myself. Noticed also that Alan was remembered well by others. There are comments also by those in the group in which I trained. Hello to you. Sadly, Alan died of cancer in 2017. I miss him very much. Good memories of Friern.
Added by Heidi on 14 May 2021
Those corridors kept us all fit. Great place to work. Met loads of people.
Added by M W on 15 May 2021
Rest in peace Ted. Xx
Added by Rod pearce on 27 May 2021
Anyone trained at Friern in 1977-79?
Added by Ivy Landell on 27 May 2021
Hi Heidi, we were in the same set, happy memories. So sorry to hear about Alan. Hope you are well. It's hard to believe its 40 years this year that we started our training
Added by Deborah on 27 May 2021
Hi Deborah, thanks for your condolences. It's a bit strange being a widow. Makes me feel very old! It's hard to believe, as you say, that it's 40 years ago since we started our training. Guess we are a bit old. We had a really nice group. Came across some old photos of a prize giving day. Think I have a photo of you somewhere standing outside Beech House. Very best wishes.
Added by Heidi on 02 June 2021
Hi all back in the 50s 60s my dad befrended a man that lived in the asylum he was put in there when he was a very young boy as he was an orphan he would pop in our house once or twice a week for a cup of tea and a chat then one day he stoped coming my dad tried to find out what happend to him but couldn't, just wonder if someone may remember him his name as we knew him was Doggie, no last name, or was that his last name, not your normal name like Harry or Fred just thought may be someone may remember the name if not the man
Added by Brenda stone on 07 April 2022
Have been doing some family research and established that a distant relative was admitted to Friern Barnet in the 1920s and remained there until his death in the 1980s. Will I be able to obtain/request any hospital records from this period. Thank you.
Added by Lorna Macey on 08 April 2022
As you will see under LATEST NEWS patient records are held at London Metropolitan Archives.......
Added by David Berguer, Chairman, Friern Barnet & District Local History Society on 08 April 2022
Another year passes but not many days go by when I don’t give a thought to my old mate Eddie Byrne. We caused some chaos along the way at Friern! Rest in peace Ted. Xx
Anonymous comment added on 27 May 2022
Hi Stacei. I remember your Grandma Maria Theresa Scanlon. I looked after her in 1989/1990 when I was a student nurse there. Marie I knew her as. I used to cook meals with her. She enjoyed doing that. She was a nice woman. I was only young at the time. She was really nice to me. We got on well. Aye, I remember your Grandma.
Added by Fred Clark on 17 June 2022
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