HUNDREDS of patients who died at Storthes Hall Hospital will finally be recognised.
The bodies of more than 1,000 people who died at the former psychiatric hospital in the 1900s were buried in unmarked graves.
Now a memorial plaque is set to be unveiled at St Thomas Church in Thurstonland, where the majority of the dead lie.
A service of dedication and remberance will be held at the church next month and a large stone plaque will be installed by the unmarked graves in the churchyard.
Ann Littlewood, whose book Storthes Hall Remembered, charts the history of the hospital, said the project to remember the former patients had been kicked off by someone who had approached her for help in finding a relative.
Ann, who began her nursing career at Storthes Hall Hospital in 1968 before moving on to become the directorate nurse manager for the Mental Health Directorate, said people who died at the hospital who had no relatives were given pauper burials at the Thurstonland church.
She said it was estimated that between 1,200 and 1,400 former patients buried in the unmarked graves between 1904 and 1972 – when the hospital moved on to using a cemetery in Lockwood.
She said: “It’s taken a long time to get to this point.
“The unmarked grave is just a rough patch of ground at the back of the church so I think it’s fantastic that there’s actually going to be some recognition for them now.”
Holme Valley Team Rector, Rev Sean Robertshaw, said the memorial stone was something they had been working on for a long time.
He said: “Over the years we’ve had a number of questions from loved ones about where their relatives are buried.
“We thought there should be some kind of marker to commemorate all the people that were buried in the church yard between 1904 and 1972.
“It’s a job that’s long overdue and we’re saying, let’s be straight and honest about it.
“We’ll be holding a service of thanks and dedication to those that worked at Storthes Hall Hospital and we’re hoping to get a lot of people who worked there to be part of the service.”
The service will be on Sunday, June 17 at 2.30pm.
All are welcome to attend, especially those who worked there or families of those who are buried in the churchyard.
Storthes Hall Hospital near Kirkburton was opened as a fourth West Riding Asylum in 1904 in response to a lack of capacity at the three others, Wakefield, Wadsley and Menston.
Other sites in the Huddersfield area were considered including Fixby, Bradley and Clifton.
The 629-acres site was purchased from Thomas Norton for £42,250.
The hospital was built to house ‘pauper lunatics’ and at the height of its overcrowding 3,200 patients were accommodated.
Patients from all parts of England, particularly Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Halifax and Barnsley were admitted to the hospital.
It continued to operate as a mental health unit until its closure in 1991.
The site is currently used by a firm providing accommodation for Huddersfield University students but most of the original premises have been demolished.