Hidden Minds

Project information and background

By Josie Hinton

Why are we doing this project?

For the last 80 years ShenleyHospital has shaped the community history of mental health in Harrow.  Shenley admitted its first patient in 1931.  It is now almost 15 years since its doors finally closed – but its notoriety lives on. 

v Over 70% of service users and the general public surveyed by Mind in Harrow wanted to know what life was really like in Shenley. 

v Critically the last generation of Shenley’s patients are now elderly; so their memories and experiences need to be collected and passed on to future generations before they are lost forever. 

Brief Outline of the project

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund until December 2012, the project trained 23 volunteers, primarily mental health service users, in heritage skills so that they were able to uncover the ‘hidden history’ of ShenleyHospital.  The project volunteers worked together, with the support of 2 project workers at Mind in Harrow, to interpret their findings and translate them into this exhibition, which has been delivered at four community locations. 

Training for project volunteers

16 project volunteers attended an introductory workshop on oral history, research and documentation; visited BethlemRoyalHospital and the site of ShenleyHospital.

They selected one of two modules of workshops/visits combining theory and practical implementation of either: 

1) Oral history, interviewing and recording : culminating in interviewing and recording 22 first hand experiences of life in Shenley. 

2) Institutional research and documentation : culminating in research documents, photos and records that uncover the hidden history of Shenley. 

In June 2012 we recruited another 7 project volunteers.  These second phase project volunteers helped us to publicise and translate the information we collected into a touring exhibition.  


The touring exhibition went to the following venues:


Saturday 30th June 2012: 1pm – 6pm

Sunday 1st July 2012: 1pm – 5pm

West Harrow Park, in the Ridgeway, West Harrow



Wednesday 25th July 2012 –  Sunday 29th July 2012

Harrow Arts Centre, Uxbridge Road,

Hatch End, Middlesex, HA5 4EA



Monday 6th August 2012 -  Monday 15th October 2012

Harrow Heritage Museum, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, Harrow,

Middlesex, Greater London, HA2 6PX



Sunday 21st October 2012: 1pm – 5pm

Shenley Park Trust, ShenleyPark, Radlett Lane, Herts, WD7 9DW


This page was added on 08/11/2012.

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