High Royds Hospital, Ilkley


High Royds Hospital, Ilkley
Architect: Mr Edwards (1887-1889)
Photograph: J. Ridsdale (2006)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection

High Royd’s clock tower served as both a landmark and practical feature. Try as they might, patients and workers in this back court of the hospital could not escape the clock. Time had to be kept: this was an ordered institution.

The more humble buildings shown in this photograph were the real face of High Royd’s. The snobbish main façade of the hospital was for visitors only. Once admitted, patients were met with a network of endless corridors connecting a series of low blocks, just like the plan of Claybury. Spread out, these low density buildings meant plenty of light and air for the patients. However, conditions varied greatly: many were just locked dormitories.

Gone are the polite, architect-designed decorative windows and features. Instead, all is purely functional. The materials are commonplace, if not mean. The walls are of local stone, neatly coursed. The long windows seem to shut in the patients, their grids of small panes no doubt a practical choice, in case of breakage. And this photograph, taken in 2006, makes the scene looks even more depressing. Now closed, the hospital is in a neglected state, awaiting transformation through redevelopment.


About the online exhibition

'How We Built Britain' is a major collaboration with the BBC


Images in the exhibition are from RIBApix, a growing database dedicated to providing you with exceptional and unique images from the RIBA British Architectural Library's collections.

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