Tone Vale Hospital – Somerset

Tone Vale Hospital was built in 1897 and closed in 1995. This is now pretty much totally converted into homes, and a few leisure services.

The main recreation hall is really the only derelict piece of interest left. Situated bang in the middle of the development, it contains a curious selection of junk – presumably from people now living in the converted parts…

  • Thumbnail of Tone Vale Hospital
  • Thumbnail of Tone Vale Hospital
  • Thumbnail of Tone Vale Hospital
  • Thumbnail of Tone Vale Hospital
  • Thumbnail of Tone Vale Hospital
  • Thumbnail of Tone Vale Hospital
  • Thumbnail of Tone Vale Hospital
  • Thumbnail of Tone Vale Hospital
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366 Responses to Tone Vale Hospital – Somerset

  1. Julie says:

    I have been very moved reading the posts on this site. When the hospital first opened in 1987 is was known as the Bath and Somerset Asylum for Pauper Lunatics and for the first 50 years or so children, as young as six were kept in wards with the adults. This was never considered ideal, so I suppose Merrifields was a way of addressing the problem. Seems a shame that things weren’t much better even with the ‘advancements in care’ I thought we lived in more enlightened times. I have been doing quite a lot of research on the hospital for a book on the subject and am happy to answer any questions from my findings if you’re interested in its history. Also it has occurred to me having read the posts on this site that I could include a chapter on Merrifields if you would like to consider having your stories told? My email is julie.cotfordbook@googlemail.com if you would like to know more.

    Ps. If you do get a chance to visit the chapel the food is damn good.

  2. philip m says:

    how interesting to read all youre comments about merrifields i was there early 70s thought id dreamt it all! glad to hear so many of you are doing ok now phil

  3. K.H says:

    I was just reading through all your comments, and wow saome of them are truely amazing, what all of you have truely been thorugh is amazing, however, I know that some poeple have sadly died throughout their time in Tone vale, I have a friend that lives next to the old building, and we thought that we would take a stroll, some of thr things that I have heard and seen are horrendous, Thta place is haunted without a doubt, the whole place is feezing, the walls are hanging donw and the everythign smells funny. I have also heard that the behaviour form the staff was dreadful, and I feel sorry for thise who have experienced that, I am so glad that you have recovered well from all of your trauma’s and I hope that you can carry on your life without thinking about your terrible time in that hospital.
    However, I am doing a college course that involves hospitals in this area of work, and I was wondering if anyone could possinbly share some information on what it was truely like in there, and how they managed to over come it. that would be brillinat. Thank you . and once again, I think you all are amazing.

  4. william koncowoj says:

    I was sp glade to see this page, I was taken there from my in 1965 to 1966. I can remmber the night I get there, I was told that I would never leav this place. I keep on crying. I can still to see the shool, to me it seem to be on top the hill, can some one let me know I am right, the teaher keept a red stick by the desk. Men and wormen where keept in the lockwords. I would love to hear from anyone that might have been there in them days may thany

  5. william koncowoj says:

    I was so glad to see this page, I was taken there from my home in 1965 to 1966. I can remember the night I got there, I was told that I would never leave that place. I keep on crying. I can still to see the school, to me it seemed to be on top of the hill, can someone let me know I am right, the teacher kept a red stick by the desk. Men and women were kept in the locked words. I would love to hear from anyone that might have been there when I was. Many thanks
    koncowojw@hotmail.co.uk

  6. David Gardner says:

    I was in Merrifield Children’s Unit for about 6 months in, I believe, 1976 when I was 11 years old. I am now 44. I got there about January of that year and left around June. I remember patients Richard, Steve, Glen Lewis, Geraint, Ricky Oliver, Neil Wiggins, Tony Milton, Kevin, Michael (always sniffing people’s hair) and Joanie (big black girl very loud). There was also Gavin. He always wanted to sleep all the time.

    I also remember some of the staff. Andy Cole (very tall), Mohammed, Carol, John Duvall, Pearl, Mr Caddick, Trish (short woman), Mr Nugent (sometimes referred to as nanny goat Nugent) Kay (one of the women who looked after the babies), Sandy (Canadian woman) and Mr and Mrs Mackie who ran the place at that time. There was also the older man and woman that worked in the kitchen and a young bloke with a flashy motorbike that he kept in the sort of playground.

    There was a full sized snooker table in a building up the road that we used to walk up to. There was also a shop of some sort just up the road. There were also 2 different swimming pools that we used sometimes but I don’t think either of them were on the Tone Vale site. The cinema was though. I remember going up to the cinema sometimes, walking passed the zombie like people hanging around in the corridors.

    An old piano was at the end of a corridor, down from the baby’s room and the train set room where there were 2 doors. One led out to the front of the building towards the main Tone Vale site and the other led out to a path which took you to the school block. There were 3 teachers. A bumbling old bloke in an art room, who was a bit of an idiot, a younger woman with light coloured hair who usually led the swimming expeditions and an older fatter woman whose class, included Glen Lewis. The large train set was in a room opposite the baby’s room and some sort of time out room.

    I remember the medicine trolley kept in some sort of recreational room for things like the occasional disco. They used to wheel it into the dining hall at the end of meal times and hand out the medicines. I was on vallium. I needed it to cope with the stress caused by the antics of the staff, especially Mr Caddick. There was also the television locked in a small sort of cupboard room. As I remember it they had to unlock the door if they wanted to change the channel.

    The woman called Trish was carrying on with Andy Cole at that time. John Duvall was a nasty piece of work. From what I can remember he used to pick on Neil Wiggins a lot. I suspect that other staff picked on Neil as well. I remember when they kept some people away from the dormitory for a while one day and Mrs Mackie saying that Neil had had a fit. I doubt that he had really had a fit.

    Mr and Mrs Mackie always seemed to be counting money whenever I went passed the office.

    I was always suspicious of the art teacher. A man whose name I can’t remember at the moment. He seemed to like having a boy called Kevin in his art room quite a lot.

    Mr Caddick was responsible for picking up a boy, aged about 2 years old, by the hair and carrying him down the dining hall screaming his lungs out. As well as other nasty things. It was lunch time and I think it was on a Tuesday. We were waiting for the other patients to come back from swimming. The 2 year old, Paul, was sat by a plug socket on the baby’s table and was probably bored so he started putting his fork in the plug socket. I think it was the woman sat next t the woman called Kay that saw him doing this and deliberately turned her head away and ignored it. He started doing it again and this time a load of bright white sparks shot out across the table. He then started saying “Kay can I go to toilet”. Mr Caddick came out of the kitchen, where he often served up the meals, and went walking down to the baby’s table. Paul said again “Kay can I go to toilet”. Mr Caddick then said “was it him, was it him?” One of the woman, I don’t think it was Kay, said something like “yes I think so.” Mr Caddick then said “right”, he then leaned over the table, grabbed Paul by the hair and carried him down the length of the dining hall. He kept his arm stretched out straight the whole way down the hall and Paul was screaming his lungs out and flapping his arms about. I could tell that Paul considered holding onto Mr Caddick’s hand to take the strain off of his head, but must have thought that he’d be in more trouble if he’d done that. He took him into the kitchen and I didn’t see Paul again that lunch time. Paul had quite short dark hair.

    About 18-20 years ago the police informed me that Mr Caddick was dead and that all the other staff had moved on to other jobs. About 8 years ago I contacted the police again to get them to check this. From what I can remember they said that it was difficult to check after so much time had passed.

    I would be very interested to know if anyone knows whether or not Mr Caddick is dead, and if alive, where he might be. Or any of the other staff from that period especially the woman called Trish who was also a sick nasty piece of work. Or the woman called Kay. I always suspected that the 2 year old Paul was probably very seriously abused on a regular basis. I saw his dad several times when he came to pick Paul up on a Friday to take him home for the weekend. I could tell from the expression on his face that he knew there was something going on because he often looked very angry when he was talking to staff. I know Paul was in the time out room one day, and probably very often. But I have got no idea what they did to him in there. I hope that Paul is doing okay now. I’m guessing that he is now about 36 years old.

    I would also be interested to know if anyone attempts to take any legal action against the authority responsible for the running of Merrifield, perhaps someone with a lot more knowledge about the place than I have. I’ll keep an eye on the site in case of any developments.

    • tony lawwlor. says:

      hello, i was at merrifields in the 60s, talk to me. be patient, it hurts still.

      • William Koncowoj says:

        Hello, I was also there in 65-66 does any one remember going to the coast at the weekends. Do you remember the adult wards which were kept locked and the cinema was there and the tuck shop. Also there was a workshop and someone was carving a boat out of a log. Do you remember, Dr Bailey, I think his name was who gave you permission to leave. My name is Bill and my mum and sisters used to visit me. Reply please

  7. christopher James Witts says:

    Hi David I can confirm that joe caddick is dead and has been for years, thank goodness ?? He treated me like shit cause i was naughty 1 day, the next day i came down for breakfast, we all qued up and i had corn flakes and he would not give me no milk on mycorn flakes he told me to eat them as they were otherwise i would be in my pyjamas and loose a weekends leave home ? So that W….R , got wot he deserved, he was best mates with andy cole who is still to my suprise working in Taunton with children ??? He was a ???? As well… I would love to get hold of all them horrible staff and torture them the way we were, mind you hopefully their all dead cause thats what they all deserve,,I have retired from this site bud, if you require anymore info please e-mail me at christopher.witts@ntlworld.com Bye everybody Have A Good XMAS xx

  8. DMA says:

    Hello David (Gardner). Quite a few names there that I remember. I guess we must have been at Merrifield at around the same time, though some of the staff you mention (e.g. John Duval) arrived while I was already there. I was (first) admitted to Merrifield in February 1976, but I think quite a few of the people you mention were more circa 1977. Anyway, you certainly prompted my memory about Joannie – I’m not sure what happened to her in the end, but I know it wasn’t good.

    About the swimming pools you mention: we were taken to the public pool in Wellington on Thursday mornings (as a school activity), and to the pool at Sandhill Park Hospital on Wednesday afternoons (a Unit activity).

    Mr Nugent, I believe died from a brain tumour in the early ’80s. To give the full names (where I remember them) of some of the staff you mention: Trish Bostock, Carol Thomas, Sandy Comfort – and there was also Bob Wilkinson. The teachers I remember were Mr Kureshi (Mr K – the headmaster – who died suddently and was replaced by David Knapman), Judith Owen (the one who took us swimming), Frederick Pledger (later replaced by Bruce Bond), and there was Mrs Charlton (the one with Glen Lewis in her class – can’t remember the name of the teacher who replaced her).

    It’s amazing how much stuff keeps coming out in connection with Merrifield now, and I’m constantly being reminded of things that I hadn’t thought about for years.

  9. steve hunt says:

    from when i was there i was unfortunate enough to meet joe caddick,andy coles,bob wilkinson was ok carol thomas was there also a long with the mackies.we use to go to the norton manor marine camp for swimming and sandhill park for horse riding.the teachers were,mrs stokes,howard thomas,avril silk,mr taylor and sue hext i think.i also feel some sort of criminal investigation would be appropriate into the goings on at merrifield it certainly had a profound effect on my life,its xmas eve and i sit writing this with a tear in my eye thinking of my past there

  10. J. M. says:

    Hi All
    I am William Koncowoj’s younger sister. I can remember our Bill being taken away, to that horrible place. We used to visit weekends, and he would tell our Mother what he suffered there, and she did not care. I remember also a young Girl used to run up the drive and ask whether her Mother was coming, and she asked us for sweets. Her Mother never came to see her. It was a very cruel place and I am glad it has closed down. It must hold a lot of painful memories for the people incarcerated in its walls.

  11. pete says:

    i have just spent several hours reading all the comments,the posting on the 24 june 09 reminds me of the time that i worked as a contractor doing pipework repairs on the main building circuit corridor in the 80s.it was always busy with patients moving along on the very long circuit corridor most of them following the other. i can still remember some of them chatting to us usually to ask for a fag, i’m a nonsmoker. i still wonder where all these people ended up. i was involved with the shutdown of the water services when tone vale finally shut, the main building was really strange because it was silent, the place would echo and make it very creepy.

  12. Charlie Shepherd says:

    Like Pete I have spent several hours over Christmas reading some quite harrowing stories from you.
    I was a junior member of staff in the late fifies and early sixties, though only did a couple of shifts at merriefields, spending all my time on the adult male wards.
    To say I am shocked by your experiences is perhaps an understatement. Some of the people you mention were known to me, were friends even, during their very early years and to think they became what they clearly did is (almost) unbelievable.
    However, I have been involved in this business long enough to know you speak your own truths.
    For those of you who have somehow found closure and moved successfully on, I can only feel happiness. For others of you, it is difficult to know what to say.
    I guess what strikes me is how total institutions, hoever benign, somehow dehumanise all of us in one way or another. Those people didnt start their careers seeking to hurt or belittle others who were vulnerable.
    What happened to them? I dont know. Removed from the natural government of public view, perhaps we are all capable of inhumanity.

    There can be no excuse for what happened to you. No excuse at all.

    I saw, in three and a half years only one peron who was deliberately cruel to an elderly patient – and such was the seniority and hierarchical power of him, to my shame I did no more than feel angry. I guess that is the start of instituionalisation. powerlessness.
    I cant believe that at 18 years old in 2009, I would have felt so powerless. Yet, then , I did.
    I doubt you will force an enquiry at this late stage, but to get together and make a formal attempt to do so may well be one way forward.

    I wish you well. It would be some comfort to think you were merely the victims of a time which has past. Sadly, human nature being what it is, it will be happeningto someone somewhere today just as it did then.

    Speak out.

    Best wishes
    Charlie

  13. David Gardner says:

    I forgot to mention that the dining hall, as I remember it was painted mainly orange and the radio was usually playing all day in the dining hall. I imagine that it was probably tuned into Radio 1 at the time. Whatever the station was I remember that it was always playing the most popular tunes about at the time.

  14. Bird says:

    Oh my days – what a shock to find these comments.

    I saw this page not long after it was uploaded here and at the time there were only the derelict pictures to see. I was wondering why it was that I was looking here again tonight – After reading people’s thoughts/experiences I know why. Okay, so I knew why already. I just didn’t expect to find others acknowledging that they are also haunted by their experiences of Merrifield.

    I was there between 89-92, and although I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones, at the grand old age of 33, I still can’t rid myself of the ghost of Merrifield past. They are outnumbered by the things it took away, but I can see the positive things the experience gave me – it brought me out of my shell and offered me the space to be me. I’m still in touch with some people from that time – we’ve built relationships beyond that time and place and I associate them with now, not then. This a good thing.

    Merrifield taught me about friendship, and I found a team spirit there that I’d never experienced before. I have had good fortune in my life and since leaving MF I’ve been lucky enough to find other ‘teams’ to belong to. But tonight I realise that I’m still part of the Merrifield ‘team’. This page didn’t magically appear on my laptop screen – I willingly typed ‘Merrifield into the search engine – and Viola, here I am. I guess my fellow ex patients might have done something similar. I thank you for not only doing that, but also for sharing some of your experiences, experiences so horrific I hardly know what to say. Thanks to this communal effort I now realise that, actually, it really is okay to still feel haunted by my time there.

    It may sound a strange thing to say but I have so often wondered how it was for the kids who came before my time there. I always had this awful feeling that it was truly hellish. Reading what some of you have written here has confirmed to me that my feeling was correct. I can’t begin to tell you how much that saddens me. I really wanted to be wrong. They can paint the walls and change the curtains but that energy still clings and I, for one, certainly sensed the horror contained within those walls.

    It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly why it’s an experience that follows me in a way I don’t feel at ease with. It’s many things combined but I still wonder what happened to people, especially those I was closest with. Most the updates I’ve heard have been positive but I also know some are no longer with us.

    I shouldn’t have been there but Merrifield circa 1989 was the better option for me at the time. I never once saw my doctor, which confirms to me that really it was just a holding pen for kids they didn’t really know what to do with. I still get panicky if I think about being restrained. But what haunts me most of all was observing the misery and treatment of other kids. I doubt that will ever leave me.

    Okay, so it wasn’t the root cause of my problems but it sure as hell left me with a whole heap of other problems to contend with. And I know I’m not alone in that outcome. A few months after leaving I just happened to bump into one of the unit psychologists. She asked whether I’d found the experience helpful, or a question like that. When I replied that it had given more problems than I’d initially had, her response was that she wasn’t surprised by this. I think it says quite a lot when the people working there have such a low opinion of the place. It makes me realise that I wasn’t crazy to feel as I did/do. I do wonder how Merrifield’s modern day equivalent is – is it destructive as Merrifield was? I really hope not but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were.

    I saw too many young nurses inadequately trained for the roles they were taking on. The damage that can do to an already vulnerable and developing mind knows no bounds. I don’t blame them personally, the system was/is unhealthy and, to my mind at least, dangerous. Inadequately trained or otherwise, most of the staff were excellent with me most of the time, but as an overall experience it really has left its destructive mark – I’d not have found this page if hadn’t.

    On the subject of inquiries/legal action – About ten years ago I did hear half a rumour that somebody (I have no idea who) was attempting something like that but I’m presuming that never came to fruition. That’s a lot to take on as an individual, so I would assume a group action would be a better way.

    I really don’t feel that I have grounds to attempt/undertake such an action, but others possibly do and I think it so important that you do speak out. Experiences like that, especially when it’s at the hands of a system that’s meant to help, really need airing. It may never get off the ground but the trying may also help to find some kind of closure. (Not that there is ever closure in the truest sense of the word.)

    I wish everyone well, and thanks again for sharing.

    c
    x

    • Cheralyn Matthews says:

      OMG…so many memories now flooding back…..do you remember me? Im cheralyn, I was known as cheralyn green, GREENBOGEY at the time. I’d love to talk with you, I only found this site today. I started therapy 6 weeks ago for the first time in my life and MF played a huge part in my awful youth. I remember being restrained alot of times. God, i can’t describe the feelings im going through this exact moment, i never realised just how many people are on this site.

      Get in touch. cheralyn76@hotmail.com

      Cheralyn x

    • Ekla says:

      Hi. Was your name Michael Bird? I was 14 in 1991 and they chucked me in that s**thole after a suicide attempt. They didnt give a s**t about any kids that were locked up there. Do you remember Chris, Leighton, Daffyd, Vicky (Carter USM fan), Tina and Trina? Cant remember any last names, sorry hun. xx

      • A.Bird says:

        Hello Ekla – No, not Michael Bird, but I do remember him. I remember everyone you’ve mentioned except Leighton. For some reason he has escaped my recall.

        I hope that life is better with you now

        x

    • David Allen says:

      I was there during 1992 so may have been there at same time as you so would very much like to get in touch with you, my names david allen I was only 12 when I was there and now live in cornwall. Your welcome to email me at dfallen24@hotmail.com

  15. Ellie Jasper says:

    Reading the coments on this site has chilled me to the bone because I know that what is being said is too true and my heart goes out to you all
    I remember the force feeding with a metal clamp I have seen lots of bad things in my time but that one is one of the worst I often wonder what happened to that paitent.
    MF taught me that self harm and attempting suicide was ok I am still struggling to unlearn that
    Lu please try to get in touch
    Ellie

    • Cheralyn Matthews says:

      Hi Ellie,

      Do you have red hair?

      I think I remember sitting with you in the garden at Merryfields on a lovely sunny day. To me you were like a hippy?

      Is it you? I was there in 89 with the 3 heathers, James, Helen, Sophie.

      I recognise the name you mentioned…LU?

      cheralyn76@hotmail.com

      Cheralyn x

    • David Allen says:

      I was there during 1992 so think I may have been there at same time as you so would very much like to get in touch with you, my names david allen I was only 12 when I was there and now live in cornwall. Your welcome to email me at dfallen24@hotmail.com

      hope to hear from you

      David

  16. DMA says:

    Seeing some of the more recent comments about Merrifield and the idea of legal action, my own feeling is that the only realistic possibility (and it might not even BE a possibility) would be some sort of class action against whatever NHS trust has now succeed the old authorities (County Council Health Department, Area Heatlh Authority, etc.) that were formerly responsible for the place. Even if such an action succeeded, I’m not sure how much that would really help any of us (though that’s obviously for each individual to decide).

    What I would like to see, though, is the whole matter (scandal) being made more public. This might help others who haven’t found this site and who may feel they are alone with their past experiences. It might even contribute to the development of improved services for present-day and future kids.

    The fact is that Merrifield was a very well-kept secret – hardly anyone knew the place existed, let alone what happened there. I, for one, have been involved in a project that will hopefully see the light of day this year. I know I’m being very irritating by not giving away any details at this stage (hopefully I’ll be able to say more within next few months), but it’s really only one small thing which won’t make much (if any) difference on its own. What is needed is for more of us to speak out (as Charlie Shepherd said). But it won’t be easy. Because of where we were (Merrifield) and the various reasons we were there (mental health disorders, whether real or not), it could be that some people might want to discredit us – though hopefully I’m just being overly cautious about that.

    Anyway, the various comments on this site demonstrate that a head of steam is building. I think this could be the year when it all starts to come out And remember, Merrifield WAS NOT the only children’s unit of its kind in the country. As far as I can tell, there were three other such units existing back in the ’70s (there was definitely one in Lancaster, as I know someone who worked there). The same kind of practices followed at Merrifield would also have been followed elsewhere. But just like the abuses in various care homes (such as those that recently came to light in Ireland), there’s every chance that stories like ours will (eventually) come out.

  17. christopher James Witts says:

    I agree DMA look into the brooklands childrens home in langport where mr nugent sent me, because merrifields could not handle me or had the room ?? The place was a bit like merrifields but a bit more less stress, but they were strict and if u stepped out of line you would be punished like merrifield, if not worse ?? The abuse was terrible there..And that was a sister unit of merrifield ~? DID ANYBODY ELSE STAY AT BROOKLANDS ??

  18. christopher James Witts says:

    I know I said I retired from this site, but I cant? need to get everything out this year ??

  19. Charlie Shepherd says:

    You are an articulate and intelligent (dispersed) group of people. It is difficult to see you being discredited, though beware approaches to tabloids who will exploit you unless you are very informed as to how they work. The Guardian or God forbid the Mail may be a useful place to begin a conversation as to how to proceed. Phone and ask the Day Desk who to speak to, or put an email together between you, and send that to them.

    There is always the Health Ombudsman or similar, but sugest you get some advise from a non beauracratic organisation first.

    Of course – refer them to this web site a part of your approach as it is here that the raw material can be seen.

  20. christopher James Witts says:

    Hi Charlie, good advice , my wife and i are off on hol to canarys mon, when we come back, I would like to get this torture out in the open, and perhaps do something , but i dont know wot ? But These horrible people who treated us all like they did need to be punnished, I spose a lot of them already have ?? their probaly in the sky?? All I had is Tourettes which I still have as there is no cure for as yet ? Why was I treated like a animal when all i wanted was love and to be cared for just like everybody else who was at mf and tone vale,, The world is a cruel place sometimes ? The only person I think who loves me is my wife, I dont have anything to do with my mother as she put me there in the first place,, if it was not for my wife and her family who has given me so much love and support over the years I dont think I would have coped.. At least i can do things without being abused or tortured or restrained and forced to take drugs……

  21. DMA says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, Charlie – much appreciated.

  22. Charlie Shepherd says:

    Chris and all,
    One of the things you have to keep in mind (always) is what do you get out of it, as it will be a long and frustrating road to take it into the public or legel domain.
    Is it revenge? Understandable if it is, for sure. And yet, whenever i’ve achieved it, its rarely made me feel stronger or better. Been a bit of a waste of energy by and large.
    Justice? Yes again (though as you say some are certainly gone to meet their maker). It would certainly be reasonable to ask the guilty to acccept what they did and publicly apologise.
    Compensation? I guess if the case cought the public or legal eye and someone took it up, it could result in substantial payout by the Health Authjority. Consider whether having to justify your pain again and again is something you can cope with. You may begin by researching to see if a similar action or class action has been successful – or is proceeding and if you could “piggy back” on such an action.
    Just getting it off your chest and knowing others know? Well, you are achieveing that here, and could seek to widen awareness by the methods I mentioned in my last post.

    So what do you REALLY want – for YOU? If you can work that one out, it may clear the way for you to work on it.

    Its difficult for me because i wasnt on the end of it. I can feel for you , but I cant feel IT. But maybe what you really want is what we all want. To be loved. To be respected by others and ourselves. To know that where wrong was done to us, it was not our fault or even our responsibiity. To feel as whole as the next person (and none of us achieve that completely – we’ve all got pain and baggage). And most of all, to know we are as a good a person as we can try to be, and hold our head high when looking in the mirror.

    To work towards those latter things, may be more satisfying and productive. It might even allow you to come to pity those people who hurt you because they were always less than you. They did not have the skills to cope with the challenges thier job offered them.. They did not perhaps have the training or the support they needed. They will not, like you, look back with pride on how they coped with adversity. They failed, and they will know it in their hearts.

    You are loved. That is the greatest gift in life.
    Cherishing it, and returning it makes yer mouth water.

    Happy to bounce ideas with you – but you are in control and doing a great job on here so far in demonstrating yourselves as winners and not victims.
    Not sure i could have done that.
    Charlie

  23. Charlie Shepherd says:

    me again – sorry, not wanting to hijack this thread, but just wondered what would come up if I Googles “Psychiatric Abuse” and up came a website which may help you. Take a look, and perhaps comment on here to begin with.
    Charlie

  24. Charlie Shepherd says:

    …actually – don’t! It appears to be a front for the Scientology Movement, and you certainly dont want to go there. I’m sorry – I should have checked further before I posted

    The Mental Health Foundation uk is a much better bet to find out how to get help. Google that

  25. Mark W says:

    I am humbled and staggered by the ability of my fellow humans to express and re-live their experiences of this awful place.

    I know about this place having lived in the area for over 30 years. As a schoolboy in the 1970’s I remember a friend of mine, Alan Hollingsworth, being taken into Tonevale regularly for two week assessments. He would have been around 15 or 16 at the time. I wonder if any of you brave people remember him?

    When he came back to us periodically inbetween “assessments”, it was clear to us, even as kids, that it was not helping him (far from it, he was worse each time). He seemed to yoyo in and out of the place throughout his early to mid teenage years. To think that he may have suffered in the way that you guys did is almost unbearable. There is nothing I can say that is adequate.

    As a strange twist for me, my renewed interest in this place is due to the fact that my niece and her husband and two children now live on the developed site 20 yards from the rec hall and clock tower. After reading all the posts in this thread, I know I could never live there.

    My heart goes out to all of you and I assure you of one thing. Every time I go there to visit my niece I will remember your names and experiences with the appropriate level of reverence.

    My love, support and respect to you all.

    Mark x

  26. Ekla Truscott says:

    Hi. I was a patient there in 1991, at the age of 14. During my time there, i found much of the behaviour of a male member of staff there very inappropriate. I learned more thn i should have about self harming when i was there, plus they never really did much with me. Some of the staff were very intimidating and bullying. They only seemed to treat the kids who had more straightforward problems. The other kids, a lot of the time were kind of left.on their own. (I wasnt even diagnosed with my illness until 2005!) I remember Avril when i was there, and got on well with her. I also got on very well with a few others, whom i still think about from time to time.That place was somewhere to shut kids away when they didnt know what to do with them. I still remember the dried blood/urine smell of the place, and ive had nightmares since. I will never forget that horrid place! I would also like to say hi to anyone on here who remembers me, whom i was in there with. xxx

    • David Allen says:

      I was there during 1991/1992 so may have been there ( Merrifield) at same time as you so would very much like to get in touch with you, my names david allen I was only 12 when I was there and now live in cornwall. Your welcome to email me at dfallen24@hotmail.com

  27. ian mottram says:

    does anyone remember wendy bryant,julie totteral and lucy beynon.
    and yup i remember craddock he was a damn sadistic nutless muppet
    please contact if you were there up to 1972
    take care
    ian

  28. ian mottram says:

    i was unfortunate enough to be shoved into the unit from i think 1970 up to 1972.i have dodgy memories of that place and all the goings on there.
    the staff some were bad and some were not thogh they did nothing to stop the abuse.
    i am 48 now and only just able to look at my internment at that hell hole.
    being injected with largactyl and malleril both not recomended for children or long term use.
    what a hell hole.anyone interested in gettin together and publicising what has been hidden and a secret for far to long.
    how many of us are a direct product of how those sadists treared us.
    do take care be strong and to those that remember me
    lots of love and nice thoughts to you
    ian
    ps i will be back.

  29. ian mottram says:

    i remember pledger

  30. ian mottram says:

    the worst of it all was not knowing why

  31. Tony Carter says:

    I remember lots of these people. Melanie watkins field, Howie Jones, Brian Love. The staff was the Mackays,Maggie pickering, Martin Carpenter, Avril silk,Bruce Bond, yes the two that were carrying on with each other (cannot remember their names at mo). Mr Caddick, yes he died i had heard. Johanna Oliver I’m still in contact with, she was great to me.I was there in 1983 and then left to go to Burtons Orchard. I have survived, even though I have a mental health condition, but I am married with kids, so I cannot be too mad. I did however got all my records from my time in Merrifield and some of you may be able to get hold of them (there is a fee). You can get them from, Broadway House, Broadway Park, Barclay Street,Bridgewater,Somerset. TA6 5YA. I must admit I had a huge pile and it makes sascinating reading, as when you are a child, you have a different perspective on things. I would love to hear from anyone around the time I was there.

    • Brian Love says:

      Just discovered this site today, for some unknown reason typed merrifield into search engine and here I am! Was There from 1983 to 1985, only seem to remember the good staff like Maggie Pickering, Martin Carpenter, Paul Shepherd, Andy Coles, Gerry Mogg and Maimi Channing who was on the night staff, she was at my wedding! There are so many people I would like to get back in contact with who where there at the same time as me.

  32. Jackie Williams says:

    OMG! I stumbled on this site today after visiting Tone Vale hospitial site today! I was in Merrifields in 1998/99 and i remember you TIMMY!! There was also a lad you were friends with called Alex? He was anorexic. You were a bit older than me when you were there about 15/16 but i remember you as you liked listening to ELO yeah? My name was Jackie Williams then and i came from down Cornwall way.

    I am now married with 3 children and have recently qualified as a Social Worker. I work with children in care and would be appauled if any of my cases ended up in a place like Merrifields. I agree that suicide and self harm were all learn to a T there. I remember ‘Martin’ being doped up with Chlropromozine so he was like a zombie!

    Although my time there was ‘OK’ i did always feel that time stood still there. It was upsetting revisiting it today as it reminded me of how messed up i was, I remember the staff you talk about there, matin, Neil Harper, Janet, and my key worker Dave Fitzpatrick/gerald?? he was a top bloke and really helped me.

    I never knew that so much bad stuff went on there. I hope everyone has managed to move on.

    xx

    • David Allen says:

      was a patient at emrrifields during 1992, and would very much like to get in contact with yourself and other people who were patients there too. would be nice to talk to other peopl who have gone through similar experiences.

      My names david Allen and you can email me at dfallen24@hotmail.com

      Take care and hope to hear from you soon

      David

    • Jamie French says:

      Hey you, remember me – Jamie French? I remember you Jackie and Martin Crocker lol. Remember when Martin drank eggs and cooking oil mixed together? I’ve never forgotten that, and everynow and then the memories of that part of my life pop into my mind…

      Be great to catch up and swap stories…im on facebook – Jamie French (Jamie Knapp) x

    • Alex Cozens says:

      Hi Jackie. I hope you look back at this site sometime and see my reply. I’m pretty sure I’m the Alex you refer to in your comment. I was in Merrifield around 1989. It would be great to get in contact and hear how you’ve been! You can email me at alexcozee@hotmail.com

      Alex

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Jackie, I was at Merrifield at the same time as yourself. Can you remember Lizzie and Rachel too? And our great escape ?

      I am in the Mental Health sector and presently studying at Uni to become a Psychologist. The memories of Merrifield have never left me, especially the mistreatment of some.

      Some years ago someone said to me “nothing changes if nothing changes”.
      Thankfully times are changing, especially with the greater understanding of Mental illness.

      xxx

  33. ian mottram says:

    tiz me ian again
    to update i was there up to 1974/5
    i remember seeing a dead patient in tone vale and was told ignore that shes dead.when i got upset they treated me to a largactyl injection pinned down dy staff and stabbed in the but with the needle.
    since my first post here i have experienced all my nightmares again and after going thru a very bad night i am going to concentrate on the good memories,not that there were any of the place or staff,but lovely memories of friends i made in the unit.
    it was the only thing that kept me sane.
    i am still trying to come to terms with why i was thrown away into the hell hole,my parents will not talk about it and say i was in a special school,ha what a joke.
    all the abuse and mental torture along with the sexual abuse was a very well keot secret and if i mentioned anything to anybody yup i was treated to the liquid cosh again and told that i was a liar and made things up.
    how i would like to face the staff who are still alive.
    if anyone remembers or knows wendy bryant please let me know,she was a tall light haired girl very pretty and my first kiss !
    till later folks
    hang in there
    love and hugs to those intered
    ian

  34. ian mottram says:

    funny how i thought memories were hidden forever,here is a few names i come up with….Kevin Hares, Daryl Bartlett, David Cooper, Timothy Jones, Alan Hill, Julie Totterdale, Wendy Bryant David Thompson.they were friends
    if anyone wants to email me at imottram@aol.com.
    i was in there i think up to 75 maybe later i am not too sure of dates
    stay safe take care
    ian

  35. ian mottram says:

    to the dude who set up this site.#
    i am going to set up a merryfields survivors web site.
    how did you set this one up any advice please sir
    many thanks for this site
    ian.

  36. ian mottram says:

    pearl used to take us to the beach and if i remember correctly she smoked really long thin cigarettes,mrs owen took us swimming and i remember a tv in a box and an electric gocart we wernt allowed to be near.
    also flying the small rubber band aeroplanes.
    it was a time machine and the unit owes me years of life.

  37. Tony Carter says:

    I did not find the place as harrowing as you Ian,this was some years later for me that I was there. I do remember some great staff who did care, but there was those who were sarcastic and down right nasty, as if they were on a power trip. I never had any injections, but looking at my notes, I recieved largacil, tricofloss and the largactil made me burn in the sun. I never saw any dead patients at all. I did some voluntary work in the gardens, which I loved as it was a peaceful haven.

  38. Tony Carter says:

    Yes Ian, my parents don’t talk about why i was there too.

  39. ian mottram says:

    Tony how did you get hold of your notes from that place,as i would like to get hold of mine,maybe might answer a few questions.
    it seems a taboo subject and my parents just either refuse to talk about it or they come out with what they have convinced themselves is right.i know different and have always been the black sheep of the family.
    seems my dad aint my dad and his father is…..
    been kept a huge family secret and whenever i approach the subject tempers flare and i get ostracised yet again.the hatred in who i know as dad must be un measurable.why punish a child,
    the children always pay for thier ancestors sins….
    aint right.

  40. ian mottram says:

    hers is some help fer ya all.
    to get your records you must put in writing proof of whom you are and all details of yourself,when you were there at the unit,
    to
    laurence perrett,
    somerset partenership,
    nhs foundation trust,
    2nd floor,
    mallard court,
    expreff park,
    bristol rd,
    bridgewater,
    somerset,
    ta6 4rn,
    his email is
    laurenceperrett@sompar.nhs.uk
    hope this is usefull.
    i am going to seek legal advice about this and what they done to me
    ian

  41. DMA says:

    Thanks for the information, Ian. I might give it a go.

  42. Tony Carter says:

    There is a telephone number too, which is:01278 720200/ or direct to Laurence Perrett is 01278 720213. I was very surprised to find that they still had my notes, some may have been discarded as I am sure they only have to keep them for so many weeks. Good Luck. If you want to contact me please do so at redroostercottage121@btinternet.com , Good luck to all who wish to get them.

  43. ian mottram says:

    ians contact is imottram@aol.com please email me if you remeber
    ian

  44. ian mottram says:

    ian again,
    i am in the middle of setting up a blog site only accesable to verified users so as to enable merryfiels survivors to have a chat and blog with the benefit of the content not being public.
    if interested email me.
    take care folks
    ian

  45. ian mottram says:

    i am not setting this up to relive the past as i found this to be too disturbing,i hope to set things up to help and support people.to let my old friends know that i and indeed others do care for each other.lets help each other overcome those awful times.
    Also to remember the better times and to go forward with the knowledge that your old friens are still there for each other.
    do take care
    and to thoses that remember me
    lots of hugs and love to you
    ian

  46. steve hunt says:

    hi tony thanks for the info i was there same time as melanie and howie in fact i use to stay with howie some weekends be nice to see how hes doing

  47. steve hunt says:

    hi tony thanks for the info i was there same time as melanie and howie in fact i use to stay with howie some weekends be nice to see how hes doing

  48. Tony Carter says:

    Steve, I perhaps should know you then, I was there from 1983 until 1984 sometime.

  49. steve hunt says:

    tony,the names i remember are melanie watkins smit,howie,brian love,jason powell,melanie lomax,adrian smith,few others but cant recall,i was in tommos class in school

  50. ian mottram says:

    could people please say when they were there as i am trying to form a survivors of the unit blog site.
    thanks
    ian
    up to 1974/5

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