ASTON HALL HOSPITAL, DERBYSHIRE
PROLIFIC ABUSE & EXPERIMENTATION ON CHILDREN
Aston Hall is a former stately home which was turned in to an auxiliary hospital during the First World War, before then being sold by the owners and becoming a state secure psychiatric hospital. It housed adults but, unbeknownst to many local residents, also contained a childen’s wing.
In 2016 it was announced that a number of former patients had come forward to allege the most appalling systematic abuse as well as claims of being used as ‘guinea pigs’ for medical experiments by the head physician. Many of them were just children at the time.
In 2016, DI Simon Tunnicliffe of Derbyshire Police confirmed that a number of allegations had been made and that the police were “working with partners to assess the nature of the allegations“.
Deputy Director at NHS England (Midlands and East), Sylvia Knight, issued a statement:
NHS England is aware that historic abuse allegations have been made in relation to residents of the former NHS learning disabilities facility at Aston Hall, Derby.
A complex enquiry process has been established by the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board in line with its published procedure.
It is important that anyone who feels they have been a victim receives support and we are talking with Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to ensure that it and other organisations provide all necessary help and support.
Nottingham’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Paddy Tipping, confirmed that Aston Hall was featuring within two ongoing police probes.
2017: It is confirmed that an investigation is ongoing in to allegations of abuse at Aston Hall, and that former patients would also be giving evidence to the National Child Abuse Inquiry (IICSA).
I happened to stumble across a book on Amazon written by Barbara O’Hare, entitled ‘The Hospital: How I survived the secret child experiments of Aston Hall’ (available in both paperback and on Kindle). When I began reading Barbara’s appalling recollections of her experience (and many other girls) being transferred from The Cedars Children’s Home to Aston Hall and being systematically abused and experimented on, I was appalled. I’d never heard of Aston Hall and the only other experimentation I’d heard about was Kendall House, where Dr Marenthiran Perinpanayagam (referred to by some as the British Dr Mengele) was routinely drugging girls, who were then being abused.
At the age of 12, Barbara was sent from The Cedars home to Aston Hall, where she was immediately drugged into a vegetative state before swiftly experiencing something that was known as ‘the treatment’. It involved Dr Kenneth Milner – the head physician, a sedative type drug, abuse and a photographer.
The book itself is an eyeopener. It is obviously very difficult to read given the subject matter, but it is well written and engrossing. I read it within 24 hours and felt compelled to look into it and put together this blog post. It’s yet another example of the state’s secret and shameful treatment of the most vulnerable in our society.
Dr Kenneth Milner:
Dr Milner had a long and distinguished career. Working for the Home Office, he was a former medical officer at Dartmoor Prison and worked at both Broadmoor and Rampton, as well as spending 30 years at Aston Hall from 1947-1975, despite having had no training as a child psychiatrist. As a member of the Education Standing Committee for the Royal Medico Psychological Association (with William Sargant) from 1953–54, he also contributed to debates on ‘mental deficiency‘. He died in 1976.
Sodium Amytal is a drug commonly known as ‘truth serum’. It is a psychoactive drug that was used in psychiatric treatment in an effort to obtain information from subjects who are unable or unwilling to provide it otherwise. It is now widely banned.
Once patients had been injected with Sodium Amytal, a mask was placed over their face and drops of ether were put on a pad under their noses.
1959: A mother held a protest against issues surrounding her sons death at Aston Hall. Barry Wright was 24 years old when he drowned after absconded from Aston Hall. His mother, Gertrude Wright, claimed that she and her husband were not told of their son’s death until two weeks later and had also been buried in an unmarked grave 30 miles away from his home. An open verdict was recorded.
1972: A board of inquiry was held into allegations by Thomas Brindley of ill-treatment towards his son, Robert, who was aged 37. He claimed his son had been ill-treated and injured.
2002: Nurse, Donna Roulston, aged 27, was struck off after being found guilty of assaulting patients within Aston Hall.
What Happened at Aston Hall Hospital? – BBC Radio 4 podcast from July 2016. A full transcript is available at the bottom of this blog post.
Jason Stubbings injected and abused – BBC interview from February 2017, with a former patient who was just 14 when he was placed in Aston Hall.