Monday 10 October 2016

Patient's "Drone" View of West Riding Lunatic Asylum

We now almost take for granted the ability to capture aerial photographs from a remotely controlled drone buzzing its way above our streets and buildings. Back in 1861, one talented inmate from Leeds was able to visualise what the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum would look like from a point several hundred feet in the air above and like the drone pilot today, his feet never even left the ground. With no digital photographs to work from he then captured his vision in a drawing which would be certified for its accuracy by the County Surveyor of the West Riding himself.

I first saw a print of that drawing in the Mental Health Museum in Wakefield some years ago. As someone who cannot draw to save himself, I was particularly impressed with the skill displayed to produce such an accurate view.

The artist, James WALKER, does appear in Proper People but I have today posted an article on my Early Asylum Life blog which explores his amazing drawing in considerably more detail. You'll perhaps imagine yourself flying through the Wakefield sky 155 years ago.