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De La Pole Hospital

A private asylum was established in Boteler Street (now Gibson Street, Cannon Street) in 1814 by Dr. John Anderson and a surgeon Mr. Ellis. About 1925 the proprietors took over, for female patients, an asylum at Summergangs Hall in Holderness Road. Both these establishments were replaced c. 1838 when new premises were built in Asylum Lane (later Argyle Street), Anlaby Road. In 1883 a new asylum was opened near Cottingham. It was the 74 acre De La Pole Farm which was designed by Smith and Brodrick. A nurse’s home was built in 1934 and an admission block in 1937.
In the early 1950s, many wards at De la Pole, a large Victorian psychiatric hospital in the East Riding of Yorkshire, were locked, with patients leading dreary, unrewarding lives - and many rarely leaving the grounds. In 1953 James Bickford, who has died aged 91, arrived as deputy superintendent, becoming from 1956 to 1981 consultant psychiatric and medical superintendent.

Backed by senior nursing staff, he unlocked wards, encouraged sport, educational classes, music and play- reading groups, opened a hospital bookshop and arranged holidays for patients, as well as exchange visits where patients would swap hospitals. He remembered the names and histories of many of the hundreds of patients, and although his approach was at odds with mainstream practice of the day, he had the courage of his convictions, which provided a sense of security for staff.
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