THE former St Bernard’s Hospital in Southall features prominently in a new book on the history of London’s county asylums and mental hospitals.

The growth of the metropolis after the Industrial Revolution led to a perceived epidemic of madness taking hold.

County asylums were seen as the most humane or cost-effective way to confine and treat those deemed to be suffering from it.

The county of Middlesex opened three huge asylums from 1831, and when London became its own county in 1889 it adopted all three and went on to build or run another eight.

All of this is outlined in Ed Brandon’s newly-published A History of London County Lunatic Asylums and Mental Hospitals.

St Bernard’s and its counterparts progressed from being known as ‘county lunatic asylums’ to ‘mental hospitals’.

Reflecting on both the positive and negative aspects of their long and storied histories, Brandon documents their stories to their eventual closure, abandonment, redevelopment or destruction.

He has been researching, studying, and writing on the subject since first being asked to provide an image of one for a book in 2008.

He has now visited around 80 across Europe, with his work featured in exhibitions, galleries, books, magazines and online articles.

Pen & Sword Books, £16.99.