Royal Albert Asylum, Lancaster

Meeting Of  The Yorkshire Committee.



The Yorkshire Herald, and The York Herald, March 25, 1891

A meeting of the Yorkshire  County Committee of this asylum was held at the Midland Hotel, Bradford, on Monday afternoon, under the presidency of Colonel Foster, chairman of the Bradford Local Committee. There were also present Messrs. B. S. Brigg (Keighley), George Buckston Browne (Halifax and Preston), Thomas F. Fenwick (KirkbyLonsdale), Charles France ( Bradford), John Hill (Bradford), R Bensonn Jowitt (Leeds), Frederick Priestman (Bradford), Dr. Ramsay (York), Mr. C.F. Tetley (Leeds), and Mr. John Whitley (Halifax). A letter of apology for non attendance was read from Sir Andrew Fairbairn, the Chairman of the County Committee, who is staying at Biarritz.

The General Secretary (Mr. James Diggens), having read the minutes of the last meeting, explained the present financial position of  Yorkshire with regard to the asylum, from which statement it appeared that the 170 Yorkshire inmates of the asylum cost £5,580 per annum, towards which amount £5,561 is received in payment for patients interests on investments. annual subscriptions, and donations leaving a deficiency of £319.  Suggestions were discussed as to the formation of  ladies associations at Sheffield, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, and Harrogate, and as to public meetings at Bradford, Leeds.  &c. – The secretary then reported upon the circumstances and  general eligibility of the 50 candidates for 20 vacancies allotted to the county at the election to be held to at Kendal, under the presidency of the Bishop of Carlisle on the 3rd of April -The committee considered the claims of the candidates, and gave the large number of votes at their disposal to each of 20 candidates.    Mr. B.S. Brigg and Dr. Ramsay acted as scrutineers.

The  Proceedings terminated with a cordial vote thanks to the Chairman for presiding at the meeting, and for his hospitality in entertaining the committee at luncheon.

Royal Albert Asylum

1864: James Brunton, a local Quaker businessman and patient of Dr. Edward Dennis de Vitre, donated £2,000 for the establishment, in Lancaster, of an asylum specifically for ‘idiots and imbeciles’. De Vitre (twice the town’s mayor and visiting physician at the Moor Hospital – County Lunatic Asylum) set up a fundraising committee for the creation of the Northern Counties Asylum for Idiots. Around this time royal patronage (and 100 guineas) was bestowed by Queen Victoria.

1866: 43 acres of the Greaves estate bought for £5,613 for the now named – Royal Albert Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles of the Northern Counties.

1868: Foundation Stone laid of The Royal Albert Asylum for Idiots and Imbeciles of the Northern Counties; special trains brought 8-9,000 visitors to Lancaster, the afternoon declared a public holiday; the suggestion being that Royal Albert was a cause of civic pride, financially supported by a broad cross section of the community across Northern England.

1870: December 14 the Royal Albert admitted its first patients. The main building designed by Lancaster Architect – E.G. Paley. Its priority was the training and education of children and young people with learning difficulties.

1871: August – First girls admitted.

1874: The Royal Albert had 196 patients

1884: Renamed: Royal Albert Asylum for the Care, Education and Training of Idiots, Imbeciles and Weak-Minded Children and Young Persons of the Northern Counties.