The Records of Cell Barnes Hospital

By Gary Moyle, Archivist at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Aerial photograph of Cell Barnes Hospital
HALS: HM2/Ph/21

Records of Cell Barnes Hospital are held at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS), County Hall, Hertford. The reference number for the catalogued collection is HM2, formed from an accession (ref Off Acc 1346), which came to us from the Health Trust in 2002. Items have also been added to the collection from Off Acc 1025 and Off Acc 1467. Much of the material contains personal, sensitive and medical information, so please see the contribution on this site regarding access, or contact HALS.

The Catalogue

The catalogue is split into six sections covering administration, patients, printed material, photographs, plans and miscellaneous. The surviving records of Cell Barnes differ somewhat from those of Hill End, in that they are mainly administrative – for example from committees, the clerk, the shoemaker or the chaplain. The long series of correspondence files is a rich source of information on a variety of subjects from air raid precautions, cases of infection, the 1982 fire, the cinema, scouts and guides, patients’ holidays and the St Albans Potato Club. In terms of patient records, the best we have are the three case books of the 1930s (HM2/Pa2/1-3). There are no admissions registers and only minimal discharge records, and no burials recorded, as there was no cemetery. Case files do survive, but these are still with the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and may eventually form part of this archive. The series of intelligence tests (HM2/Pa2/4) from the 1930s is a fascinating and sad insight into the minds of service-users, with many of the patients having difficulty drawing a triangle, or writing their name.


There are more photographs in this collection than in the Hill End records, although they are almost all from the 1990s. Although modern, they form a wonderful and vibrant snapshot into the social life of a community in the last few years of its history. In the miscellaneous section is a series of audio cassettes, containing interviews with ex-employees recalling their memories of the hospital. Part of the Out of Sight Out of Mind? project is to digitise these, so that the content can be assessed and transcribed, and in due course preserved and made available for access.

The Cell Barnes archive catalogue (HM2) is now the definitive guide to that collection of records, complete with an introduction and thorough survey of other known records and sources. The catalogue can be consulted at HALS, County Hall. It will soon be available to consult online when our catalogues go live on our website at

This page was added on 26/03/2010.

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  • Hello! I’ve tried sending emails to the address but they continually bounce back.

    Where can I reach someone that can help guide me to a former patient of Cell Barnes?

    Thank you!

    By Tanya Mancuso (22/03/2021)
  • Hi Tanya,
    Sorry to hear about your issue contacting us. If the problem has still persisted try contacting Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies for further information.

    By IAdams (14/09/2021)
  • I recently obtained the death certificate of my uncle Benjamin Graham Harrington born August 1935 and it’s listed that he died here at Cell Barnes Hospital in July of 1995. I’d like some additional information about him if possible. Please contact me

    By Tanya Mancuso (03/03/2021)
  • Hello Tanya, thank you for your message.
    If you are looking for records that might contain additional information about your Uncle, please contact the archive team at They can also help you get in touch with other commenters on the site.
    ~ The Editorial Team

    By Laurelle Marfleet (08/03/2021)
  • Hello Julie, if Benjamin was your half brother and he was my half brother we have a connection somewhere.
    [The editors have removed the contact details from this post for GPDR adherence.]

    By Benjamin Harrington (31/12/2020)
  • Hello Benjamin, thank you for your comment. If you would like to contact a specific commenter from this site on an individual basis, please email and one of the archives team may be able to help you to get in touch.

    By Kate O Neill (02/03/2021)
  • Hello Have you possibly got any photographs of my half brother ? Benjamin Graham Carrington died in the hospital in 1995. He was born in 1939


    By Benjamin Harrington (11/06/2020)
  • Hello my half brother resided at cell Barnes hospital , His name was Benjamin Graham Harrington Born 1939. Died in 1995 if you can give me any information I would be grateful.

    By Benjamin Harrington (11/06/2020)
  • I am trying to trace the whereabouts of my brother who was at Cell Barnes until it’s closure.

    By Julie (03/12/2017)