In 1961 Minister of Health The Rt. Hon. J. Enoch Powell spoke at
the annual health conference of mass reform of the mental health
system and a 15-year plan to reduce the number of psychiatric beds
to around 75,000, closing asylums and moving mental health wards to
wings of general hospitals. The speech marked the beginning
of the transition to community based services, and the end of the
asylum a period that would last some 30 years.
"Now look and see what are the implications of these bold words.
They imply nothing less than the elimination of by far the greater
part of this country's mental hospitals as they exist today.
"This is a colossal undertaking, not so much in the new physical
provision which it involves, as in the sheer inertia of mind and
matter which it requires to he overcome. There they stand,
isolated, majestic, imperious, brooded over by the gigantic water
tower and chimney combined, rising unmistakable and daunting out of
the countryside - the asylums which our forefathers built with such
immense solidity to express the notions of their day. Do not for a
moment underestimate their powers of resistance to our