A GRANT has been awarded to help preserve records of the historic former North Wales Hospital, which has recently been subject to a number of arson attacks.

Denbighshire Archive Service has received £130,000 from the Wellcome organisation to catalogue and preserve historic records relating to the former hospital in Denbigh.

The Research Resources Award will fund the cataloguing of the largest hospital collection held at Denbighshire Archives; the records of The North Wales Hospital.

The North Wales Hospital was once the main institution in North Wales for the care of the mentally ill. It opened in October 1848, serving the whole of North Wales and the borders.

A century later, its patients numbered in excess of 1,500. It was by far the biggest employer in the area and activities recorded in its voluminous archives reflect its importance in the social and economic life of the area, with its farm, sporting activities, community events and cultural festivals.

The hospital finally closed its doors in 1995. The resulting archive is unique in its comprehensive nature, incorporating: patient records; annual reports and committee minutes; financial records; plans; and staff records. 

Although most of the collection is closed to researchers due to data protection legislation and to respect patient confidentiality, it is important the collection is preserved to enable access to those interested in tracing developments in treatments of mental health patients in the future.

Nicola Samuel, archivist at Denbighshire Archives, said: “The funding will enable us to employ three project staff to catalogue, conserve, and create an online catalogue for this unique collection. 

“The collection will also be assessed for potential future digitisation projects.” 

She added: “We would like to make this incredible and unique collection more accessible not only to academics, but as a fascinating resource all our users could benefit from.” 

Wellcome is an independent global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. 

Its research resources awards support projects to catalogue and preserve significant primary source collections in libraries and archives across the UK and Ireland.