The first Welsh “asylum” (the old term for a psychiatric hospital) for the mentally ill was opened in
The Glamorgan County Asylum in Bridgend opened in 1864 to serve the whole
By November 1910 it was decided that Swansea Borough would meet two thirds of the cost of the new mental hospital, with the Borough of Merthyr Tydfil supplying one third. The cost of the land included purchasing mining rights and compensation for farm tenants.
The purchase proceeded, and the foundations of the new buildings were nearly complete when shortage of labour and materials during the First World War brought everything to a standstill. Building work re-started in 1928 on the first of
In December 1932 the first psychiatric hospital to be built in
The first patients were transferred from
Three quarters of the in-patients made use of occupational therapy, and a psychiatric clinic for children was introduced. During the Second World War Cefn Coed was used as a casualty hospital, in addition to its psychiatric role, and the first ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) machine was installed. In the 1950s there was an acute shortage of nurses – whereas in 1932, 130 nurses had looked after 600 patients, in 1958 almost the same number (128) cared for 700 patients. The annual fête was a popular occasion, helping place the hospital firmly among the local community.
Cefn Coed has also been the Regional HQ of the Welsh Ambulance Service. Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board intends to close the hospital in the near future, and replace it with specialist units, such as the new 60-bed unit Ysbryd y Coed which provides care for older people with dementia. Whatever future changes transpire, thankfully we have come a long way since the days of