Tricia Thorpe's experience of living in High Royds Psychiatric Hospital



Tricia Thorpe describes her experience of living in High Royds Psychiatric Hospital, West Yorkshire, where she spent many years as a teenager in the 1980s. She talks about High Royds and the rigid schedule that inpatients had to follow. She recounts an upsetting occasion when she attempted to break curfew to watch the television show Prisoner Cell Block H, and was immediately punished and put into a secluded cell. This interview was recorded in 2012, nine years after the hospital closed.

The Listening Project

This recording forms part of The Listening Project, a partnership between BBC Radio 4, BBC local and national radio stations and the British Library.

Since 2012 The Listening Project has been collecting conversations between friends or relatives, many of which are broadcast across BBC Radio. The full recordings are archived by the British Library.

This is a short extract from an in-depth interview. A written summary of the full interview can be word searched on the Sound and Moving Image Catalogue. Listen to the full interview on British Library Sounds and explore further content on The Listening Project.



Tricia Thorpe: High Royds was the old asylum as they might put it, you know, the psychiatric hospital for West Yorkshire. Now, I spent many many years in High Royds as a – in 1980s in like my teenage life and through my twenties. Back in the ‘80s there was a programme on that was called, Cell Block H, do you remember Cell Block H?

Carol Meehan: I’ve heard of it.

TT: Yeah, about a women’s prison in Australia, and I became a bit of an avid watcher. So, one evening – because you used to have to be in bed, you see, by ten o’clock. Well, I’m eighteen, I don’t want to go to bed at ten.

CM: No.

TT: But it was this kind of strict regime. You went into – you were in bed by ten, you were up by seven, you had your breakfast, and you went to your occupational therapy where you sat and you weaved wicker baskets.

CM: Did you want to weave wicker baskets?

TT: I didn’t want to weave wicker baskets, no. You know, I wanted to do normal teenage stuff, but they weren’t going to let me go. So, this particular night I decided that I was going to watch Cell Block H, and it used to be on quite late, it used to be on about eleven o’clock at night. So, I refused to go to bed. That was a big mistake.

CM: Right.

TT: That was a very very big mistake. ‘Cos I knew the nurses used to watch it, you see, so it’s like, well, I’m going to sit and watch as well. So, that was it. They pressed the panic button. Now, the panic button goes to the locked wards.

CM: Right.

TT: And then they send down the male nurses. So, they come and basically, no arguments, they take you to a locked ward. They literally restrained me and dragged me down the main corridor that were of course obviously empty because everybody was in bed in the wards. Took me to the locked ward which was behind two locked doors.

CM: I should imagine that along that corridor you kicked up a bit of a fuss.

TT: No, I didn’t.

CM: Okay.

TT:  I was in a state of shock because I didn’t know what was happening. I couldn’t really put up any fuss because they were breaking my arms. They were restraining me. They’d ripped my nightie that I was wearing. I’d left my slippers halfway up the corridor, that is how quick they were taking me down that corridor. When they got me in there, they just said, “We’ll show you for causing trouble.”

CM: Okay.

TT: And all I’d asked was to watch TV. And they put me into a seclusion room. In that seclusion room was just a mattress on the floor and that was it. So, they put me in there and they left me in there all night.

[END OF RECORDING – 00:03:27]

Tricia Thorpe's experience of living in High Royds Psychiatric Hospital
26 September 2012
Sound recording
Tricia Thorpe, Carol Meehan, Abigail Jaiyeola
© Audio: © BBC;
Image: © lubi-jim via flickr (CC-By-NC-ND)
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