This film is part of Free

Annual Sports Storthes Hall Athletes

Despite mental health problems, these patients enjoy themselves as they tackle an obstacle race and have pillow fights sat on a greasy pole.

Amateur film 1930 14 mins Silent Not rated


From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This film provides a fascinating insight into the workings of a mental institute between the wars, as residents at Storthes Hall Mental Hospital, near Huddersfield, have their annual games in the summer of 1930. The self-contained hospital – with its own fire engine, ballroom, shop and pub – gives a free rein to the patients who clearly have a fun time with skipping and sack races, as well as a tug of war, dancing and even felling trees. They then make bonnets for the winners.

It isn’t known who took this film. It was donated after the Hospital closure in 2003 by Dr John Bruce who had been its Director from the 1960s. Storthes Hall Asylum was opened in 1904, the 4th West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum. In 1927 it had 1,652 patients of whom all but 73 were rate aided. 771 were men, 881 women, and 268 "private" patients, all men. Only 23% of admissions recovered. It changed names in 1929 to Storthes Hall Mental Hospital, in 1939 to West Riding Mental Hospital, and in 1948 to Storthes Hall Hospital. It is now part converted to Halls of Residence for Huddersfield University. Some patients had Down’s Syndrome, while some elderly women spent decades there simply for having a child out of wedlock.