Campaigners rally together to show their support for Northampton ex-hospital clock tower

Campaigners turned out in full force to show their support for the clock tower.
Campaigners turned out in full force to show their support for the clock tower.

Children at a Northampton nursery on the site of a former psychiatric hospital have written to Prince Charles in a bid to save their beloved clock tower.

Irish firm WN Developments took over the St Crispin’s Hospital land in 2009 and announced major plans to bring it back to life, including long-awaited plans to replace the site with flats.

The St Crispins psychiatric hospital site, host to the clock tower (pictured) closed in 1995 and was then the subject of a number of large-scale plans.

The St Crispins psychiatric hospital site, host to the clock tower (pictured) closed in 1995 and was then the subject of a number of large-scale plans.

Despite an inferno ripping through the former hospital block in 2014, two years later a planning application was lodged to demolish the existing ward blocks, restore the clock tower and build 137 flats and 98 houses on the site.

But a campaign group, set up last week, has written to Prince Charles in the hope the royal can use his influence to make sure the clock tower is protected.

The monument is not currently listed, which they fear offers it no protection from demolition in the future.

Michael Boulden from Rhymetime Day Nursery set up the Facebook page ‘Save St Crispin's clock tower’ and coordinated a rally, on behalf of the children at the nursery, to voice their concerns about the youngsters losing their history.

The followers of the page have since been calling on WN Developments and Northampton Borough Council for an update.

Michael, who works in Connolly Lodge, which is a converted and listed building that was originally part of St Crispin’s Hospital, said: "The children are the heart of our community and our future. We have lost so many historic and beautiful buildings over the years in Northampton and we don’t want to lose this one.

"They [the children] were concerned as to what will happen to the tower and have been asking questions for ages that we simply didn’t have the answers to. So they wrote to Prince Charles on Tuesday morning (Tuesday, February 13) including their views on why it should be saved and pictures that they drew of the tower.

"One comment was that it must be saved because it is bigger than an elephant - others included that it is a landmark, historical and very precious to them."

The derelict buildings have been a hotspot for vandalism and arson in recent years.

Michael added: "They may have said that it’s safe and will be developed but until we have a date, timescale, scaffolding and builders all over it, I will not stop and we remain united as a community."

Councillor Tim Hadland, the Cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “Formal planning permission for a residential development on the St Crispin site was granted on 8 May 2017.

"The planning permission approves the retention and restoration of both the clock tower and the administration building and the conversion of these to residential use.

“Our planning team has been working with the site developers, to try reach an agreement on the planning conditions, which include a providing a detailed timescale for the completion of the works.”

A spokeswoman for WN Developments told the Chron that it has always been the firms' intention to retain the clock tower and they will be developing the site in accordance with the planning permission granted in May 2017.