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Rayhobbscefn Coed

Cefn Coed Remembered

Image 'Cefn Coed Patient Artwork' copyright Ray Hobbs


                                Cefn Coed Image copyright Rhys Jones ARPS

Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place in 2020 between 18-24 May. Find out more information here.

Cefn Coed Hospital/Ysbyty Cefn Coed is a psychiatric/mental health facility in Swansea, South Wales. The hospital was designed by George Thomas Hine and Hallam Carter-Pegg using a compact arrow layout and was officially opened by the Princess Royal as Swansea Mental Hospital in 1932. It was used as a casualty hospital during the 1939-45 War. 

Work started in 2009 to build modern replacement mental health accommodation and facilities, including Ysbryd y Coed in the grounds of Cefn Coed, which is purpose-built for patients with dementia. Other new builds in the Cefn Coed grounds are the 18-bed Gwelfor Rehabilitation Unit, a pub featuring non-alcoholic beer called “The Derwen Arms” and two supported houses for recovering patients preparing to move back home.[

South Wales RPS member Ray Hobbs ARPS completed a BA Honours Degree in Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales in 2018. The Documentary Photography Degree Programme was originally established by the Magnum Photos Photographer David Hurn HonFRPS back in 1973 at the Newport Photography School. Contact Ray by email :  Ray's website Raysfotos available on this link here

In 2017 Ray undertook a project to photo-document the decommissioning of Cefn Coed  hospital in Swansea. Ray's project at Cefn Coed can be accessed on his website on this link here

In July 2018, a group of RPS South Wales members and non members (including some former staff who completed a part of their training at Cefn Coed) went on a group visit of the now decommissioned part of Cefn Coed led by the NHS local health board historian and archivist.

Images of RPS South Wales RPS visit to Cefn Coed copyright Rhys Jones ARPS

RPS South Wales, Welsh Photographic Federation and Swansea Camera Club member Dennis Russ LRPS came on the visit in 2018 and these are a selection of the images he took. Dennis has a website which can be accessed here



Monochrome Images of Cefn Coed copyright Dennis Russ LRPS

In 2019 Swansea Museum organised an exhibition called 'Cefn Coed Remembered' which contained many of the images that different groups had taken on their visits to Cefn Coed plus artefacts form the site and many historic images, maps and posters of the site.

Heather Parnell curated and managed the exhibition at Swansea Museum which was aimed at sharing heritage and reducing stigma around mental health. The exhibition was put together from material generated and gathered by local Health Board Heritage Team.

The Health Board Heritage Team had actively sought ways to engage patients, past staff and the public in celebrating and reflecting on the legacy of the hospital. The team, led by Martin Thomas worked in partnership with a huge range of institutions, groups and individuals. It captured stories and celebrated the lives of patients and staff who were connected to the hospital whilst also providing an insight into the evolution of mental healthcare provision.

Heather Parnell's website contains details of the exhibition and can be viewed on this link

A short film about Cefn Coed was made in 2018 by Jono Atkinson with voices of some of the people who had memories of the hospital and can be viewed on this link 

In 2015 another short film of Cefn Coed was made and can be viewed on this link

Over the summer of 2010 Rhys Jones had some work selected for an NHS project in Swansea to put work in the new part of Cefn Coed. Rhys was part of a group which has been working with the staff and management over the summer. The work was chosen by a panel of users. Rhys's images were printed A2 size on canvas. Rhys said at the time "Nice to think that they will be part of someone's life for the next few years! Being on a beach or drifting in a boat is a great sensation and a hopeful and positive experience."

Rhys completed the MA Photography : Contemporary Dialogues Programme in 2008-10 at what is now Swansea College of Art, UWTSD (formerly Swansea Metropolitan University and Swansea Institute) and NVQ Photography Evening Classes 1999-2000 at Gower College (formerly Swansea College).

The Cefn Coed artwork project was managed on behalf of the University by Jenny Tancock who is also an MA graduate from the Contemporary Dialogues programme which was established by Professor Andrea Liggins when she was Dean of the Faculty of Arts. Jenny is now a freelance fine artist who undertakes commissions. Jenny's website is here.


Images copyright. Rhys Jones ARPS

A selection of images from the setup, over the summer of 2010, of the Cefn Coed Artwork project with the NHS team members can be seen here. These are supplied for this article courtesy of  Jenny Tancock. 


Cefn Coed Artwork Project Setup with NHS Staff - images copyright Jenny Tancock

RPS South Wales member Hywel Harris FRPS was also involved in this project - he completed his BA Photography in the Arts Degree at Swansea College of Art, UWTSD.

These are some of the images that Hywel took of the project in 2010.




Images of Cefn Coed Art Project setup 2010 copyright Hywel Harris FRPS

If anyone is interested to follow any of the photography programmes mentioned in this article and at some other local education providers the links are provided below :

University of South Wales BA Documentary Photography 

Swansea College of Art, UWTSD Photography Programmes

RPS/Open University Online Certificate of Photography

Coleg Gwent - Photography, Art, Design and Media 

Gower College Photography Programme

Wales Lifelong/Adult Learning Courses

Swansea Lifelong/Adult Learning Courses

Falmouth University Flexible Learning Programmes

Swansea Camera Club

Welsh Photographic Federation

If anyone is interested to find out more about the Royal Photographic Society please visit the RPS website. The South Wales Region has a page here.