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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
Comments:
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
I WAS A BRICKLAYER IN THIS HOSPITAL 1980'S. GOOD MATE VINCE OGORMAN. DOES ANYONE KNOW HIS WHEREABOUTS.
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
Peter,
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 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 too.take good care. Xm
Added by Mary Duffy on 11 February 2013
Hi rob, i remember you,great times,,I havent heard from Eddie in a age he was such a great guy full of life and fun just like yourself.Im 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 tryed 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, im still nursing down in dorset. Have'nt 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 2o 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 Lornas 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 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 ...
kathleenfrog@btinternet.com
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
Hi,
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 🖐
Any one remember CHRISTOPHER (CHRIS) WOODNESS AKA WOODY ?

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
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Friern Barnet

Friern Barnet LaneDwight School LondonDwight School LondonColney Hatch Lane, N10Colney Hatch Lane, N10Colney Hatch Lane, N10Colney Hatch Lane, |N10Colney Hatch Lane, |N10Sydney Road, N10Sydney Road, N10