Documenting the Decline

With the shocking and unwarranted demolition of the Foster Buildings continuing at a pace more befitting of a post-war concrete tower block than a building of such historical and cultural significance, there is not really a lot to say at the moment. Rather, these beautiful and haunting images, reproduced here with the kind permission of the photographer, M. Hodgson, can speak for themselves.

foster hall (2)

Foster Hall. © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.

Foster hall

 © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.

ward sign

 © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.

Valency ward

Valency Ward.  © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.


 © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.


 © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.

Norman Ward Day Centre

Norman Ward Day Centre. © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.

Foster complex Oct 2013

 © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.

More of these beautiful photographs will be shared soon. If anyone has any memories brought back by these photographs please let us know and they can be included as captions and quotes underneath the images.

And finally…..


Carnage.  © M. Hodgson 2013. All rights reserved.

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With sincere thanks to M. Hodgson, Steve Davies RMN (Registered Mental Nurse) and St Lawrence’s Hospital Facebook Page.

Please click on images to enlarge.


2 thoughts on “Documenting the Decline

  1. I recently attended a community event at Gunwen near Bodmin, this was part of a project called Tallys an Tir (Stories of the land) that is collecting stories and memories from several agricultural communities in Cornwall. Whilst there I met a direct descendant of Silvanus Trevail’s family and Hazel Harradence, a founder member of The Silvanus Trevail Society.
    I knew that Silvanus was a local architect who had drawn up the plans for the Foster complex at St Lawrence’s but I knew little else about him. I learned that he was born in Luxulyan, very close to Bodmin, and that he came from a farming family. He was known for his radical reforming politics, was the Mayor of Truro and over 30 years he managed something like 300 architectural commissions that included domestic buildings, churches and chapels, commercial and public buildings, hotels, schools and hospitals. The plans for the Foster block were drawn up in 1899 but the site did not open until 1906. Trevail died in 1903 – the story goes that on Saturday November 7th that year he donned his top hat and frock coat and boarded a train from Truro ostensibly travelling to the funeral in Luxulyan of his uncle. He remained on the train past his stop at St Austell and whilst the train was passing through the tunnel before Bodmin Road station he made his way to the ladies’ lavatory and there shot himself in the head. The jury at the inquest recorded the verdict that Silvanus had committed suicide whilst temporarily insane.
    I think there is a lot more to learn about Silvanus Trevail and hope that he may be the subject of future posts on this site. For now will try and find time to read the book that Hazel co-authored – Silvanus Trevail – Cornish Architect and Entrepreneur (ISBN 978 1 903427 43 9)

  2. Forgot to add yesterday that whilst at the Tallys an Tir event I also got to talk to some not so young farmers who told me that they used to attend the county Young Farmers Club ball regularly in their youth and that this was held in the Foster Hall at St Lawrence’s. I have heard tell of the sprung dance floor there and know that the hall was used for a number of public events in the past. Would love to know more about what exactly these events were. Think that they may have included Hunt Balls which I am sure were grand occasions. Anyone know more?

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