St Catherine’s was built in 1827 and owned by George Banks, a wealthy cloth merchant from Leeds. The house stayed part of the family until 1928 when a consortium of local businessmen bought the estate. In 1930 St Catherine’s was acquired by the South Yorkshire Joint Hospital Board and in 1931, following government pressure to do something about the growing problem of people classed as ‘mental defectives’ St Catherine’s was chosen to be used as an institution. The house welcomed its first residents in 1932, all of which were female.
Two wards were commandeered by the war office in 1939 for wounded soldiers and in 1945 these were handed back to the house and used to house children. By 1964 St Catherine’s house had over 530 residents.
Some residents were made to stay in bed every day and only allowed out when the linen was due to be changed. They were dressed in white shirts with open backs and lived only on porridge, scrambled eggs, potatoes, minced meat, bread and milk. No activities were allowed and the only contact they had with the outside world was through the staff or listening to the radio.
Children’s services were run as a children’s home with a very limited education service.
This venue is VERY active with reports of paranormal activity a common occurrence and with the amount of residents who have passed through St Catherine’s; along with the conditions that were typical of the time this is not surprising.