AMATEUR film makers have been granted first time access to the former Severalls Hospital site.

Joe Mander and Liam Heatherson, both 19, persuaded NHS bosses who own part of the derelict site in north Colchester, to let them capture exclusive footage.

This, along with interviews with former staff at the psychiatric hospital, will be used to create Secrets of Severalls.

The documentary will explore the history from when Severalls opened in 1913 as an asylum, until it closed in 1997 and will show what the site is currently like.

It will be available on the internet by the middle of next year.

Joe and Liam, both from Canvey Island, run the history website Beyond the Point and are making the film as part of this project.

Joe, an apprentice for ITN, said: "We have heard about the site as it's quite a well known one.

"We thought it would be a great place to cover.

"We contacted the NHS and we weren't sure if they would allow us access and they said we could.

"We have done all the filming at the site and spent two days there.

"The site is quite dangerous in places - they were very careful about safety."


Chelmsford Weekly News:

Joe and Liam had to go on a site visit with security guards to show where they hoped to film.

The pair had seen photographs on the internet of the inside of the hospital which gave them inspiration.

A drone was used for some of the footage.

The massive 300 acre site was built to house up to 2,000 patients and based on the ‘Echelon plan’ where staff and patients could move around the grounds without going outside.

When asylums were first built in the late 1800s, they were placed away from towns although they were a community in their own right as were built with farms, laundry facilities, staff housing, shops and everything needed to live on the site.

Mental health had quite a stigma attached to it at the time and little was known about treating it.

Women could be admitted for struggling with a large family or for even being raped.

Joe added: "It was interesting to see it all. The building was actually quite warm inside as it was well insulated.

"You cannot really imagine what it would have been like there because the site is so big.

"They said we filmed about only a quarter of the site."

The site has frequently been visited by trespassers in recent months.

Earlier this month the Gazette reported how free climber Matthew Adams was filmed hanging 150ft in the air off a water tower at the site.

The adrenaline junkie and extreme photographer estimates he has visited the site 35 times for a variety of illegal photoshoots.

Plans were recently unveiled for 730 homes on part of the site which if approved, will be built on 104 acres by the three developers in the Severalls Hospital Consortium – Bloor, Taylor Wimpey and Bellway.

Historical features to be preserved as part of the development will include the building which housed the old Severalls psychiatric hospital, the Grade II-listed administration building and a war memorial which will relocated.

The Severalls water tower will also be kept, as will courtyard areas.

Other buildings of significance will be refurbished and converted into homes.

To view the film click here.