Formerly known as Moulsford Asylum, Fair Mile opened its doors in 1870 as the county asylum for Berkshire. The red bricked corridor plan complex was designed by renowned 18th century architect Charles Henry Howell.
Utility extensions were later added by fellow asylum architect George Thomas Hine and this is possibly also one of the reasons the recreation hall which was originally designed by Howell appears to be unusually small for an asylum of this scale.
The institution was originally built to hold 285 Patients, however a few years later Howell was asked to expand the site to 500 beds and later Hine's expansions to the hospital provided housing to 1,400 mentally ill patients during the asylum's busiest years.
By the 1950's the hospital was bustling with new therapies such as electro-convulsive shock treatment, and intensive psycho-therapy. An isolation hospital can be spotted on the far edge of the once beautifully landscaped grounds.Workshop units dedicated work therapies were also designed to contribute to the patient's recovery, but also as a means to fund some of the hospital's additional expenses.
Stacks of therapy books fill the rotting wooden shelves within the therapy departments, and artworks and paint lie scattered all over the mould infested floor surfaces.
The high security wards are painted with alarmingly bright colours and decorated with chaotic patterns, the only tell tales that prevent them from being confused with regular dorms are the triple glazed windows and dozens of dome shaped mirrors fixed to the ceilings.Even the window blinds are set out of harms reach, wedged in between the window layers.
The majority of buildings at Fair Mile are listed, however decay and lack of maintenance have finally begun to ravage the entire site and sadly the interior is showing signs of desecration and copper theft.
Closure finally came in 2003 on the grounds that the hospital was too outdated, too Victorian and consequently depressing for both staff and patients. A 30million pound replacement has been built and Fair Mile's former live-in patients were all dispersed into the community.
The site is now undergoing a redevelopment with new houses being built and the listed buildings being converted.