Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Asylum of Asylum Road

I have always viewed Asylum Road in Londonderry as a narrow, dark and depressing street although it does open out somewhat as it transmogrifies into Woodleigh Terrace and then Bayview Terrace. The main reason for the darkness is the high stone wall which bounds one side of the road. Although the Londondery Asylum building closed in the late 1950's and the buildings were demolished in or about 1968 the road name and the wall remain as testament to the twelve acre site which once housed the District Asylum.

The architect for the Asylum was a Francis Johnston of Dublin and the builders were Messrs. Williams & Cockburn. When it opened in 1829 it served the Counties of Londonderry, Tyrone and Donegal but ultimately the latter two counties had their own District Asylums situated in Omagh and Letterkenny respectively. That in Letterkenny opened in 1866 and the building still houses a psychiatric hospital today. The foundation stone had been laid on 11th May 1827 by Bishop Knox.

The total cost of the Asylum came to some £25,678:2.4. This sum was advanced by the Government but then had to be repaid in instalments by the three counties. The front of the 364 feet wide building was constructed of Dungiven sandstone with brick being employed for the less visible portions of the structure. In the centre of the frontage was a clock tower topped by an octagonal cupola and containing a bell. This bell cost the relatively princely sum of £58:2.4.

In 1866 the resident medical officer at the Asylum was paid an annual salary of £260. The matron, one Eliza Grant was paid £70.

Sources: Colby's Ordnance Survey Memoir of Londonderry & 1866 Report on District, Local & Private Lunatic Asylums in Ireland

No comments:

Post a Comment