Tooting Bec Asylum was the fourth asylum hospital to be erected by the Metropolitan Asylums Board to supplement the existing institutions at Leavesden, Caterham and Darenth.
Towards the end of C19th the MAB purchased 27 acres of parkland. This site became Tooting Bec Hospital
Foundation stone laid in 1897 and the initial work was completed in 1903 at the cost of £287,542
1 acre = 16 Tennis Courts. Tooting Bec Hospital was 27 acres (= 432 tennis courts). Wembley Stadium is 11 acres (= 176 tennis courts)
1903 £1 = £107.32p. 1903 £287,542 = £30,858,863.67p
It was built mainly for the accommodation of imbecile patients who required infirmary treatment.
A small Receiving Home was built adjacent to the asylum for 36 children
1908 Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-Minded (Minutes of Evidence – House of Commons Database)
Decidedly conflicting opinions but there seemed to be agreement that ‘ the aggregation of feeble-minded children in large numbers would be harmful’
Suitable homes should be provided by the boarding-out system or children should be placed in small voluntary homes
The Board decided to provide care in small homes – 6 were opened (3 for girls and 3 for boys)
These homes were ordinary houses generally indistinguishable from other houses in the locality
Data from 1911 Census Return and Wandsworth Street Directory
Metropolitan Asylums Board Home for Children
81 Earlsfield Road, Wandsworth
Eka Shepherd (Matron)
Mary-Ann Fenner (Servant)
Rose,Daisy, Gertrude, Dorothy and Rose – Were attending local school
Ethel, Kate, Louisa and Emily – Not listed as attending education
All the girls between 8-13 years and were listed as feeble-minded.
Home for Defective Little Boys
66 St Ann’s Hill, Wandsworth
Mrs Phoebe Timbrell (House Mother)
For boys aged 13-16.
Some boys ‘half timers’ preparing for transfer to homes for over 16’s All receive elementary instruction in carpentering, tailoring or bootmaking Effort made to develop faculties Allowed to go out for walks unaccompanied
1914 Just before WW1 MAB decided to double accommodation to 2200 Building work ceased in 1916 and resumed in 1919
1924 The Asylum was renamed The Tooting Bec Mental Hospital Hospital used exclusively for patients with senile dementia
1930 Came under the control of LCC
1937 The word ‘Mental’ was dropped from the title 1939 2355 beds
1948 Joined the NHS under control of South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board
1970s Use of Hospital began to decline
1989 Site was put up for sale (for housing)
1995 The Hospital closed and services transferred to St Thomas’s Hospital