I suspect that every town has a hospital that was known as being the place that people went with mental health issues. Where I grew up, it was called Whitecroft Hospital but the hospital was always dropped in common usage. The original buildings were Victorian, and I suspect in its early days the place was called an asylum. In common with many similar places in the UK, a change in policy meant that it was closed down and patients were to be cared for in the community. The outcome of that is a topic for a different day.
Whitecroft is now entering a new phase in its existence. It is being redeveloped as a housing project. We decided to visit it and see how things were looking. Whitecroft is not close to any other population so it has a remote feel to it. Even the road access is a bit narrow. The redevelopment is still underway, so some parts are blocked off. Some of the houses are new builds but they weren’t particularly interesting looking properties. Other developments are in the old buildings. Given the things that must have happened in those buildings over the decades, I’m not in the least interested in living in such a place!
The setting is attractive though. As we drove down towards it, the sun was lighting up the buildings and they looked great. The old clock tower provides a focal point and the old chimney from the boiler house is still standing. On the way back out, I wanted to get a shot with the sun on the buildings, but the clouds had rolled in. The wind was strong, though, and I figured a gap in the clouds was bound to come along before too long. Less than five minutes was all it took but the gap only lasted 30 seconds. I got the shot and moved on.
Not all old airliners end up being broken down for parts. Some get a reprieve, at least for a while. A frequent secondary use for airliners is freighters and FedEx have an extensive fleet of old DC-10s that they use. These have gone through a cockpit upgrade program and have been renamed MD-10. However, even that is not enough to keep them going indefinitely and the fleet is gradually being reduced. One of them has got a new lease on life though.
Orbis is a charity that carries out eye surgery around the world in places where the medical facilities are limited. Cataract surgery is a simple procedure in some countries but a rarity in others yet it is a simple solution to a problem that affects thousands of people. Over the years they have had a number of airliners that are fitted out with an operating theater and they can fly into locations and carry out surgery on people who would otherwise have little hope of regaining normal sight. The current aircraft (see at the bottom) was a DC10-10 that had originally been with United. That aircraft is now being replaced with the MD-10 from FedEx.
I first saw the aircraft at LAX during its press roll out. I was landing and looked out of the window and there it was on the ramp. No camera to hand so just a memory. More recently, it spent some time at Moffett Field and I was able to grab a few shots. It was hot so, while I chose the better side for the light, it meant being a distance away and getting a fair bit of heat haze. I did also see the shady side through the fence. I imagine the jet is now off doing good work around the world. A great cause.