Beds, Herts & Bucks

Fairfield Hospital memorial planned on Stotfold site

Fairfield Hospital cemetery
Image caption The residents' association said the old hospital cemetery was "an appropriate place" for a memorial

A memorial is to be built to remember the patients and staff who lived and worked at a psychiatric hospital in Bedfordshire.

Fairfield Hospital in Stotfold shut in 1999 but about 3,000 people are buried in unmarked graves on the site.

A housing estate has since been built there and money from the developers will be used to build the tribute.

Fairfield Park Residents Association (FPRA) said the former patients "should be remembered".

The Three Counties Psychiatric and Fairfield Hospitals, which dated back to 1860, closed following changes to the provision of mental health nationally.

About 1,000 houses and apartments have now been built on the site but a Garden of Remembrance has been maintained in the place where patients and workers at the hospital were buried.

'Appropriate place'

A few headstones remain in this spot but the majority of graves are not acknowledged, and the FPRA said it was therefore an "appropriate place" to put a memorial.

Elaine Fox said: "We are very conscious that we have a piece of land tucked away in the corner of the estate where people go at significant times and place bunches of flowers on trees because there is nowhere for them to go to actually remember their loved ones.

"We think it is really appropriate that we should have somewhere definite that people can go and place flowers."

It is estimated the memorial will cost up to £6,000.

Ms Fox added that the council had put out a tender for an artist to develop the memorial before workshops are held to gather ideas on how it should look.

"We are keen for people who have a connection with the hospital to attend these so we have input from the people who are really connected to this," she said.

Richard Knight from the Three Counties Asylum Historical Group said the cemetery was "a lasting reminder of life and death at the asylum" and it "fully endorsed" the project.

"It's a wonderful idea, and we hope to see a lasting and respectful memorial to all the staff and patients who lived, worked, and died at the asylum," he said.

A steering group will decide on the final design in December with a view to the memorial being completed by spring 2013.

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