‘Extensive structural damage’ caused during huge blaze at former St Crispin’s Hospital in Northampton

A huge fire at the former St Crispin’s psychiatric hospital near Duston has caused extensive structural damage to the derelict building.

Around 80 firefighters from Northamptonshire and Leicestershire battled to put the blaze out which began at around 10.55pm last night (Wednesday).

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Firefighters remain on the site in Berrywood Road this morning where the fire is now out.

The blaze was contained to just one part of the historic site with the central clock tower being unaffected by the fire.

Terry Smith, incident commander, said: The fire was under control by around 3am.

“There has been extensive structural damage. The building is now unsafe.

“Our priority was to fire fight and stop it spreading to adjoining properties.

“We’re very pleased with how it went. There were no injuries reported and the fire didn’t spread to adjoining buildings.”

Neighbours were advised to keep their doors and windows closed, although there was no evacuation.

Mr Smith said: “There were no more dangerous fumes than a standard house fire and there were no chemicals involved.

“We always check for asbestos but nothing has been confirmed.

“We’re planning on maintaining a presence at the scene damping down for the rest of the day.

“Investigations will now take place between police and fire to establish a cause.”

It is the second time in four days fire crews have been called out to St Crispin’s Hospital as two crews were called on Sunday to deal with a fire on the site.

Irish firm WN Developments took over the site near Duston in 2009 and announced major plans to bring it back to life. However, five years later no development of the former hospital has yet taken place.

St Crispin’s Hospital was a former large psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Duston, established in 1876. It closed in 1995.

Nick Humphreys, of Berrywood Road, said: “It’s sacrilege that this building has been left to go into disrepair like this. It’s a magnet for vandals.

“It’s sad. Very sad. It’s another part of Northampton’s heritage slowly being destroyed.

“I’d like to see it returned to its former glory. I was expected to come out this morning and see a pile of rubble. They obviously built it very well.”

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) received more than 70 emergency phone calls about the blaze, with many coming out of their homes to see what was on fire.

A spokesman for NFRS said: “On arrival NFRS (1st crew) were faced with a well developed fire, the initial crews worked hard to prevent further fire spread and to make an attack on the fire, due to the size of the fire additional resources were requested to support the fire operations.

“At the height of the fire 12 Pumps, five special vehicles and a total of 80 firefighters were in attendance.

“The operation has been supported by the police and East Midlands Ambulance Service, the advice to the public is to keep their doors and windows closed and to stay away from the fire scene for their own safety, this will allow emergency services to complete the tasks at hand.”

There is currently a one way system in place in St Crispins, which is being monitored by police.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said: “Police are this morning advising people of a one way system that is in place in the St Crispins estate, Northampton, following the fire at the former hospital last night.

“Traffic can enter the estate via Berrywood Road, onto Berrywood Drive and then St Crispin Drive and out of the estate.

“The one way system remains in place while the emergency services continue to attend the scene of the fire last night.”

Cllr David Mackintosh, Leader of Northampton Borough Council, said he was ‘very worried’ to hear about the fire at St Crispins.

In a statement released this morning Cllr Mackintosh said: “It must have been a very disturbed night for the people living close by. I know that the Fire Service and Police will carry out a thorough investigation so that we can understand what happened.

“Northampton Borough Council is ready to help in any way we can and I know that the ward councillors have been up to the site this morning to see if there is anything they can do.

“I hope that the site will now be made secure to ensure that there are no further incidents. This is also a timely reminder to the developers that they need to get on with building on the site and the Borough Council will be contacting them to see what support they need.”