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Community event to explore diet, mental health and Whittingham Asylum in the 1920s

University supported research project to host family-friendly afternoon

A free community event exploring the relationship between diet, mental health and Whittingham Asylum in the 1920s is taking place on 11 August.

Food for Thought is a fun, family-friendly afternoon, organised by the Whittingham Lives Association, which will give people the opportunity to look at original archives and artefacts from the Asylum, participate in a number of family arts activities and sample local produce from a selection of stalls.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is one of a number of local institutions involved in the Whittingham Lives research project.

Former staff, patients, visitors and local residents are also encouraged to attend the event, which is taking place at Whittingham & Goosnargh Social Club on Saturday 11 August from 12 noon to 4.00pm to share their memories and photos of Whittingham, Goosnargh and the Asylum through the decades.

The event will be followed by a free evening of nostalgic entertainment at the social club from 6.00pm to 10.30pm, inspired by memories, food, music and the heritage of Whittingham Asylum in the 1920s. A traditional meal, typical of diet from this era, will be served using produce grown by the ‘Grow Your Own’ group at Guild Lodge – a secure mental health facility in Preston – illustrating the connection between how people with mental health needs were looked after in the past and how their needs are also being met today.

The Food for Thought event gives the people of Preston and the wider community an opportunity to visit the Asylum site and gain an insight into life, mental health and diet at the Asylum in the 1920s.

The evening will also include a dance band and music entertainment, 1920s dress is also encouraged. Whilst this event is free tickets will be required, and are available from Whittingham & Goosnargh Social Club or via email contact@whittinghamlives.co.uk

Bernard Melling, Whittingham Lives Board member and event organiser, said: “I am delighted to be involved in this community project researching the heritage of Whittingham Asylum. The Food for Thought event gives the people of Preston and the wider community an opportunity to visit the Asylum site and gain an insight into life, mental health and diet at the Asylum in the 1920s.There will be a display of the research that has been carried out and the chance to discuss any areas of interest.”

Jacquie Crosby, Archives Service Manager at Lancashire Archives, commented: “The archives of Whittingham Asylum are of national significance in recording the care and treatment of mental ill health since 1873. I am delighted that Whittingham Lives is making them better known, and helping us to preserve this important collection. Original documents relating to the Whittingham farms, which produced fresh food for the patients, and the hospital diet will be on display at Food for Thought.”

Whittingham Lives is a two-year arts and heritage project which is researching, exploring, celebrating and critically reviewing the culture and legacy of Whittingham Asylum, which was open from 1873 to 2016. This event is part of a series of programmes exploring the 150-year history of Whittingham Asylum.


Events such as Food for Thought are significant in preserving the history of asylum life and give the local community an opportunity to explore and understand issues around mental health in society, nutrition and wellbeing.

Community groups have joined with the Whittingham Lives Association, UCLan, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Lancashire County Council to creatively record, interpret and celebrate the history of the hospital so that the legacy and heritage of this institution is preserved for future generations.

Heather Tierney-Moore, Chief Executive at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We are delighted to be a partner of this wonderful heritage project that is creatively exploring the history of Whittingham Asylum. Celebrating the NHS 70th Birthday this year, has given us the perfect opportunity to delve into our history, share our hospital records and reflect on the changes in healthcare.

“Events such as Food for Thought are significant in preserving the history of asylum life and give the local community an opportunity to explore and understand issues around mental health in society, nutrition and wellbeing. We are extremely proud of the partnership with Whittingham Lives and look forward to it continuing to grow in the future.”

The project has received nearly £70,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Arts’ Council.

To get involved with the Whittingham Lives project email contact@whittinghamlives.org or visit www.whittinghamlives.org.uk

Rachel Atkinson | 25 July 2018