The North Riding Asylum opened in the 1840s. Plans for an asylum in this area were already underway before the Lunatics Act of 1845 made the provision of county and borough asylums compulsory. The hospital took three years to build and opened to patients in 1847.
The asylum was not very large in size - approximately 1000-1100 patients were housed there in its heyday
The hospital buildings were expanded many times through the 19th and 20th century. The chapel was added in 1873. Farming enterprises were a part of many of the country asylums, and land around the hospital was acquired for this purpose, beginning with the purchase of the neighbouring Rawcliffe Farm in 1884. In the early 1960s, the Ministry of Health ended farming practice at psychiatric hospitals. . Females helped with domestic duties, and in female occupations such as sewing - patients' clothes, for example, were made at the asylum by inmates.
The asylum was designed for pauper patients, ordinary working class men and women whose families would be unable to afford the ongoing fees of private asylum care. Patients entered the county asylum via the poor law unions, with the union boards of guardians undertaking responsibility for their fees
The asylum's officers comprised a resident medical superintendent, a clerk and steward (later with an assistant), a clerk to the visitors, a treasurer and a chaplain. The medical superintendent's wife at first performed the role of matron; later on she had an assistant, but in 1870 the post of matron was replaced by that of housekeeper who also performed the function of chief nurse until 1887
Aaron Tempest was the Clerk and Registrar it is unknown what position Dora Childs held.
Changing attitudes to mental health are reflected in the various name changes. In the 1920s, the term "asylum" was dropped from the hospital's title in favour of the term "hospital". The North Riding Mental Hospital then became part of the NHS in 1948, and was renamed simply "Clifton Hospital".
A wonderful site illustrating life in the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum .....click to view