St David’s Hospital (Carmarthen)
St David’s Hospital in Carmarthen, Wales, was a mental health hospital which operated from 1865 until the mid 2000s. The main Victorian building is Grade II listed.
The hospital opened as the Carmarthenshire, Cardigan and Pembrokeshire County Asylum in 1865, with room for 212 patients. The architect was David Brandon. His substantial three-storey buildings were designed in an Italianate style and included men’s and women’s wards, day rooms, offices, a grand dining hall and a chapel. There were workshops and exercise yards for patients. The asylum had its own water towers and a gas works. In 1870 and 1878–80 additional wings were added and early examples of cavity walling to the ventilation towers.
In 1883-89 an ambitious new chapel was built, seating 500, funded by private patients and also built entirely by the asylum’s inmates. The chapel included an multicoloured interior using strips of polychrome glazed brick.
By 1929 the asylum was known as the Joint Counties Mental Hospital and, in 1948 (on arrival of the National Health Service) became St David’s Hospital. Capacity grew to include 940 beds by 1971.
In 1981 the buildings were given a Grade II listing, as “an architectural ensemble of note, incorporating the latest ideas on hospital planning and construction”. More recently recorded are the unusual examples of patient graffiti, carved into the stonework of the Victorian building.
In the early 2000s a government report heavily criticised the standards of accommodation and care at the hospital. A patient had also died in 1999 after being administered a rapid tranquilisation when medical checks hadn’t been carried out correctly. By April 2003 the vast majority of the 1,200 patients had been relocated to other mental health facilities, with only 100 expected to remain in a new unit on the site. Carmarthenshire Council purchased the old hospital buildings in 2003, at a cost of £3 million, to prevent the national government using them to house asylum seekers.
Hywel Dda University Health Board operate the Cwm Seren, Tudor House and Ty Bryn psychiatric units on the original hospital’s Jobswell Road site, now renamed Parc Dewi Sant (St David’s Park).