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
This entry was posted in Asylums and Hospitals, somerset and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

366 Responses to Tone Vale Hospital – Somerset

  1. Me says:

    This brings so much back. I try to forget but can’t help coming back to this site.

  2. Nicky Brown says:

    Hi guys, I was at Merrifield briefly in 1990. I cried most of the time and begged my my mum to let me come home which she eventually did. I had group counselling when I left at The Mount in Taunton and I’m pretty sure the kids in the group had all been in Merrifield at some point. The doctor treating before, during and after Merrifield was quite a small man with messy dark brown hair. Does anyone know who I mean? I can’t for the life of me remember his name. I remember a girl with anorexia who was really poorly, a boy who wouldn’t talk, Jane Hemmings whho ran away alot and a girl called Claire Chorley but can’t remember any other names. Does anyone remember me or any of the people I’ve mentioned. It’s a part of my life I’d blocked out until recently.

    • Me says:


      I think the girl who was quite poorly with anorexia was helen. Wasn’t she on bed rest. I do remember Jane too. The only Nicky I remember was from Bristol. Was that you?

    • Vicky says:

      Hi Nicky
      I think I remember you – did you have an eating disorder and exercise a lot? I’m Vicky, who was at Merrifield from March 1991 until January 1993. I was admitted with OCD and anxiety, but ended up self-harming – bad behaviour I learnt from being at the unit. I remember Clare Chorley as well, and Gill (who had her head shaved like Sinead O’Connor), Kathy Brown, Chris Cox and various others. I remember most of the staff too: Alison Houlson, Martin Carolan, Andy Coles, Gerry Mogg, Linda (from Ireland), Carol, Sarah Varley, Michelle … all lovely and respectable professionals who made life there bearable. The Doctor you are referring to, I think, was Dr Cockett. He became my doctor towards the end of my stay after Dr Bakker. I hope you have managed to achieve a happy, healthy and worthwhile life.

  3. Ekla says:

    Does anybody remember a chap named Michael Bird? I was there in 1991 (aged 14), and he is somebody who I would really like to get back in touch with. He was 17 at the time, and was a good friend while I was there. xx

    • D.Harris says:

      Does anyone remember Bridget Rodgers in 75/76 or Robin Ball 1990-95?

    • Vicky says:

      I think I remember Michael Bird. I certainly remember two Michaels, one of whom was obsessed with aeroplanes, a particular pilot and a film called Iron Eagle. I was there from Mar 1991 until Jan 1993. I only recently learned from my Mum that Mr Mackay had insisted I was admitted or I would kill myself! I certainly didn’t have any thoughts of self harm or suicide until after I was admitted! I never liked Mackay and kept as far away from him as possible.

  4. A.Bird says:

    Nicky, I *think* the doctor you’re thinking of is Alan Cockett.

    Hope that helps,


  5. Mushy says:

    Hi there Nicky

    I was there at the same time as you I think … I remember Claire and yes Docctor Cockett (or Cock it Up as we used to call him) I remember you were very into sport and exercise? Its been a long time. Many hugs to you xx

  6. jas 62515 says:

    This is Jane Hemmings…..

    The anorexia girl was Helen,
    Like most off you , i also blocked off that part off my life….
    But has now decided to remember that parts off those years and the friends i made in my time off need.
    Hope you are all ok!!!!!
    If any off you would like to keep in touch, add me on……
    Take care…J…..XXX

    • Me says:

      Hi Jane
      I do remember you! I can remember catching the train from Bristol Parkway to Taunton with you when we went home one weekend. Did you live in Yate?

      • jas 62515 says:

        Hi, Yes did live in Yate, Not anymore.
        I would like to say i can remember you, but i don’t know your name.
        Hope you are well!!!
        Keep in touch..XX

      • Jamie French says:

        I’m surprised you can’t remember me…although it was along time ago now and i’ve struggled with remembering names. I’ve found some people via facebook who were there at the same time as us. Are you on Facebook?

    • Vicky says:

      I remember Helen. She was still there when I left. I hope she finally got out as she was one of the older patients at 18 and I feared they’d transfer her to Tone Vale main hospital.

  7. christine says:

    Hi, was Michael the lad that was really into queen? I do remember a few other names. Chris, Alvin, Jamie and two girls named rachel as well as the ones already mentioned (Helen and Daffyd). I can remember more faces then names although they have probably changed since then. x

  8. David Austin says:

    I must admit that (until this morning) it’s been a long time since I looked at Ian’s forum – it could do with more support. I notice there’s some useful reminders there about how people can get hold of any surviving records on them from their Merrifield days (not that I’ve had any luck myself – but will try again).

  9. Carrie says:

    Hello all,
    I am new to this site and am moved by the stories that I have read. My Mum was in Tone Vale Hospital a couple of times between 92 & 94 and I have lots of unanswered questions, sadly she is no longer alive. I live in London, but recently visited the hospital site which is converted into flats. I have to say I receiveved a hostile reception from a couple to the people now living in the flats, even though I don’t think I was invading their privacy or being offensive!? Anyway it’s hard because I have few memories of my Mum when she was well and feel a bit closer to her there, not sure why!? Xx

    • Vicky says:

      Hi Carrie

      Was your Mum in Tone Vale itself or in the Merrifield Unit? I only ask because I was in Merrifield from Mar 1991 until Jan 1993 and if she was in Merrifield I would have known her. I had been living in London for 14 years until 2 months ago, when I returned to Somerset. However, it doesn’t matter where I live as the memories of that horrible experience are etched on my mind forever.

  10. David Austin says:

    Merrifield survivors may be interested in the ‘secret’ (i.e. hidden) Merrifield Children’s Unit group on Facebook where members can exchange memories, views and information in privacy. I know many of us have found this forum extremely useful, but it’s open for the world to see (which has also been useful in many ways!). You can join the ‘secret’ group via existing members (you can contact me for more information via my website).

  11. David Austin says:

    I’ve just been reminded that despite everything that went on at Merrifield (and Tone Vale), there were some very caring and thoughtful people who worked there. Mr Kureshi (‘Mr K’, as we used to call him) came to mind today. He used to be the headmaster at Merrifield School. He died in the Spring of 1976 (while he was off sick). I remember him as a man of integrity and insight.

  12. alan bryant says:

    david i think u were there probably a year or two before me but i can remember some very caring people ,david knappman was the head teacher when i was there other teachers were avril rolf mrs owen bruce bond in the unit were some lovely people amy cant remember her second name audery berry johanna oliver carol thomas sandy {the canadian with glasses } maggie pickering janet wilkinson but the one who sticks out is joe caddick {top bloke} had hours of fun mending push bikes in his workshop remember running away one night with andrew fleetwood and he was on duty that night but he kept it quiet so as not to get us in trouble and a week in pyjamas many good times but can remember some not so good ah well alls fair in love and war

    • David Austin says:

      Yes, Alan, I remember most of those people too – David Knapman was Mr Kureshi’s replacement (after several months of Mr Pledger filling in; when Mr Pledger retried he was replaced by Bruce Bond). You also mentioned Janet, the OT – I don’t think anyone ever had a bad word to say about her!

      I was around (on an off) for quite some time, so I remember Andrew Fleetwood too. I don’t want to say anything that might prove to be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he died very tragically in the mid-’80s (a car crash). If someone is able to say that’s wrong, I’d be very pleased to hear it, but I’m farily certain it’s true (I think it was reported in the local paper).

  13. alan bryant says:

    yes im afraid your right he died on the 21 april 1988 on my birthday he had nicked a car from taunton and was driving it with socks on his hands lost control and crashed into a wall in staplegrove there are two others you may remember who died young sean dagg died of alchol and paul bradley died from a drugs overdose e few years ago now very sad

    • David Austin says:

      Very sorry to hear the details – hadn’t realised it was as late as ’88 (as I was no longer in the area by then, so I’m not sure how I got to hear about it.

      I certainly remember Sean Dagg, and I remember the name Paul Bradley, but I can’t quite place him. Sean was really into rockabilly (Matchbox, etc.), I seem to recall.

  14. alan bryant says:

    yes sean was into all that sort of music paul bradley was quite tall with shoulder lenght blonde hair and he was into punk in a big way he use to hang round with me andy fleetwood andrew speed stephen edney mark grant it was definatley 1988 that andy fleetwood died because it was on my 21 birthday do you remember lawrence sladik & a boy from burnham on sea his first name was julian and he was a england schoolboy under 13 footballer he was diagnosed with severe arthritis and went of the rails because he coudnt play football anymore

  15. alan bryant says:

    hi david is there anyother sites where i can get in contact with others who were their at the same time as us espically lawrence we were good mates thanks for all the replys good to speak with you thanks alan

  16. Jamie French says:

    Hi Everyone, my name’s Jamie French and I was a resident of Merrifield for about 1.5 – 2 years. My stay was somewhere between 1987 -1990.

    I have been reading the comments posted by previous residents, and i’m sorry to hear about the bad experiences that some people have faced. However, I remember Merrifield with much affection and it was probably the most memorable part of my life date. Some of the stuff I witnessed there has given me an insight into life that the majority of people will never have.

    I met some interesting people there and would love nothing more than to know what happened to them. I remember trips to: Tangiers, Wellington youth club, Taunton shopping center, Quantox hills, Blackdown hills and the twice weekly spar trip to Bishop Lydeard.

    I remember Mr Mackey (The Boss) who was from Bishops Lydeard. He was an older guy. Martin Calaghan, Neil Carpenter from Bishops Leard. Janet the old women who did foot rubs. Bryan the cleaner, Jerry (Night Staff), Dr Cockett and Dr Baker (Who both looked weird) and loads more…

    I remember the 3 dorms in which 2 were for the girls. The swimming pool, the mound, the window locks which you could remove with a screwdriver. The two TV rooms where neighbours and home and away were watched…the days when scott and charlene were cast members.

    I remember some people had anorexia and they were sometimes forced to drink build up drinks. Recently, I have found two people through Facebook and we stay in touch.

    It would nice to hear from people I may know…I have sent a couple of emails….I’m on Facebook under Jamie French (Jamie Knapp)

    • heather cook says:

      Hi I waz at merrifileds frm 1989 to1991 I remember u I remember a lot of the staff az well.I lost touch whn I.moved to swansea u cam find
      Me on.facebook it wud n nice to catch up of not take care

      • Jamie says:

        Hi Heather, I can’t remember you but then it was along time ago.

        I can’t find you on Facebook, do you have an email as it would be easier to find you on FB then. There are some others on my friends list that were there at the same time as us to.

  17. lorna longman but known as christina says:

    hi every one i to was at marriefileds but don’t have to meany good times to think of does any one have any photos of the children at that time or any information in how to find my records take care x

  18. lorna longman but known as christina says:

    hi Alan are you Alan Bryant from wellington somerset?

  19. PSW says:

    I too was at Merryfields, and I believe I was there it was in late 1969 – 1970. I recall being in the play Oliver. I played the role of the Artful Dodger. Merryfields not a good experience for me either and this part of my life has been brought back memory as I am currently writing my life story. I was not at Merryfields because I had a diagnosed mental disorder but more because my father who was under Dr B convinced him I was uncontrollable. Thankfully I only spent 6 months there but that was long enough to tell me it was not a place I wanted to be. Being continually dossed up on Largactil is something I will never forget. In addition the loss of one of the patience was an extremely sad time, she was only 11 years old.

    Thank you to all those that have written about their experiences and I think I got off quite lightly but the sound of things.

    My best regards to all


  20. Lorna longman now Christina western says:

    Hi Alan, still Alive then lol, do u have any information on merrier fields as I can’t find anything, sorry haven’t replied u may of seen it in the paper, how are you doing, are you married,children etc. Hope life was good to you. Wait for ur reply x

  21. christine says:

    Hi Heather and Jamie, I think I may possibly remember you, I was in merrifields from late 1990 to mid 91. I used to live in wellington. My name is christine smith, am on facebook. Remember lots of things from being in merrifields, some good some not so great. Be great to hear from you xx

  22. David Allen says:

    like most people who went there I never self harmed or tried or thought about suicide before that place, but that chanegd after being in there……. for the last 20 years since i left the place I have always struggled to maintain any sort of relationship or friendship with anyone I get so angry, upset, and annoyed at what went on in the past that it end’s up ruining every friendship /relationship i ever have,

    someone should be held accountable for what went on in there, its ruined too many lives and doesnt just affect those of us who were patients there but our friends/families too

    • Kte says:

      Hello all
      I came across all these posts recently- 27 years later – I knew something was wrong when I was there in the early eighties and have a diary entry for every single day. Really disturbing. Im now wondering what ‘hypnosis’ with Mr Mackey was – can anyone enlighten me?

      I see that dear Mr Mackey and his sadistic wife Marie are still living in Bishops Lydeard – they should have charges brought against them.

      • David Allen says:

        Hypnosis with mr mackay was just an excuse for him to put his hands all over young vulnerable people, fucking sick paedo as I found out

  23. Vick says:

    I never had hypnosis – thank God, because I never trusted Mr Mackey. I always felt there was something not right about him. I steered well clear of him and wouldn’t let him lay a finger on me. Seriously, if there are genuine allegations of sexual abuse, these should be properly looked into, especially if they happened in the care system. I am still haunted by my two year experience at Merrifield. I have managed to re-build my life and achieve many good things, but it still hangs like a millstone around my neck. Awful experience for anyone, especially at the vulnerable teenage years.

  24. David Austin says:

    Avon & Somerset Police are aware of Merrifield and have recently interviewed potential witnesses – I’m not sure how many people have been interviewed, but I am among them (and they travelled some distance to talk to me). I can’t comment on what was said, but if anyone has any information that might help the police, then please make contact with them.

  25. leaf says:

    A few years ago, someone told me what had happened to him while he was at Merrifield during the 70’s. He got the guts up to inform the police but because the pervert was old and ill, the police were not interested. Till this day he still has flash backs and nightmares. Drugged, beaten and abused by the people that were supposed to look after him. Those people need to be named and shamed.

  26. David Gardner says:

    David, you commented that Avon and Somerset Police are aware of Merrifield and that they have interviewed you. Are your able to give out the name and address of the officers that you have spoken to, and their telephone number? I think it is best to try and direct any evidence towards the same officers, so that the information, and its importance, is not fragmented and diluted too much. Both Mr and Mrs Mackay should be being brougt before a court, as well as some others if they can be tracked down. Unfortunately, as we all know, Mr Caddick is dead, and has got away with everything he did, but I think it is well worth going after the Mackays.

    • David Austin says:

      Hi David. The officers who spoke to me were Detective Constables Bob Baber and David Lewis. I think the person to contact in the first instance is Detective Superintendent Geoff Wessell, Tel: 01275 816630, Email:

    • Daniel Mackey says:

      Dear Mr Gardiner, this is Daniel Mackey. I must respond to your comments about me on one of the related websites. You may or may not have sympathy for me, thats your privalege, but I will continue to have sympathy for you,as well as all the other victims of abuse..I am surprised that you should suspect me of trying to “test the waters” or “dilute the accusations” against my mother and her husband. After all I accused them of abusing me, their own child, which I REPEAT NOW! That seems a strange way of making excuses for someone. wouldn’t you say? I hope and pray that all those responsible for abuse are brought to justice as soon as possible. And a couple of other things

    • Daniel Mackey says:

      I have had no contact whatsoever with my mother for well over twenty years( I wish Id been rescued from them while still an infant). Any of their neighbours or acquaintances could no doubt tell you that. So I wouldn’t be in a position to plot with them, even if I wished to do so- WHICH I CERTAINLY DONT!! Moreover, there were several instances in my teenage years when I came close to doing violence to one or the other of them. If I had, and the matter had come to court, my best guess is that they would have left Merrifield. Those times are long gone now but I will always regret that I did not do so. I might have saved some people from going through it. Now you can believe that, or you can put it where the sun doesn’t shine. But its true in either case.

      I repeat, I wish you well, regardless of what you think of me. Kindly believe me when I say I had no idea about this when I was growing up- its not something someone would boast about is it? Let me leave you with one thought. Abuse is abuse, whether or not it comes from teachers, carers or family. By the way Mr Gardner, Im sorry that I misspelt your name earlier.

      • David Austin says:

        Hi Daniel. I’m glad to see you commenting again. You offer those of us who were at Merrifield some very important background information. But the difficulty of communicating via the internet is that you can never be a 100% certain of someone else’s identity and intentions. I do, however, have some recollection of you, though I don’t recall us every having any direct contact. I think we even attended the same school in Taunton at one point. I had a vague awareness of you being at that school during one of the times when I was out of Merrifield. I could be mistaken, but I also seem to remember having some sense that not all was well with you. The Head there (Mr Shepherd???) was very supportive towards me, and I remember him mentioning that you – or, if I’m wrong, someone with your name – occasionally coming to see him in order to talk (I told him I didn’t know you, but that I thought I knew your ‘father’). I don’t suppose he should have mentioned you to me like that, but he certainly didn’t give anything else away. It is that memory that perhaps makes it easier for me to accept what you say. Just one final thing: I really don’t think you should dwell on whether or not you might have been able to save some people ‘from going through it’ at Merrifield. You were a child/teenager yourself; you were not responsible for anything that happened at Merrifield. I think it’s very unlikely that you could have made a difference back then, but you are definitely doing something now with this very important insight into two of the most significant people on the Merrifield staff.

  27. A.Bird says:

    There’s now a group on Facebook for those seeking to reconnect.

    ‘Merry Children In The Fields’ if you search for it.

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