Five Generations at the Fairmile Hospital

The Fair Mile Hospital (before 1948 known by a succession of different names) was until relatively recently Berkshire’s county lunatic asylum. If the term ‘lunatic asylum’ sends shivers of dread down your spine, be ready to adjust your perceptions. Consider the alternatives and try to understand that the Victorian asylum system was a well-founded effort to tackle mental illness head-on through compassion, diligent care and research. No mental institution was ever entirely sweetness and harmony. However, these places made possible valuable and largely unrecognised advances in mental health care. Ian Wheeler’s illustrated talk examines Fair Mile’s foundation, growth and methods through the eyes of ten of its former employees. All were members of his family, and their service spanned over a century.

This talk is the first of three in the Winter Potpourri online talks series. Book all three talks in the series for £12.50 (members £10).   

Pre-booking is required, because the event link will be sent in advance.                             

To join this talk, you will need a computer device with speakers. Ideally, also a webcam and microphone. You also need to be able to access the internet from it. First-time users of Zoom, will be asked to download a small piece of software, which will be sent in advance. 

Image: The Fair Mile Hospital by Bill Nicholls, CC BY-SA 2.0                                                                                                                                                         

To book – scroll down.


Thu 26 Jan


14:00 - 15:15

Tickets from



Zoom Video Conference


The Centre - Berkshire FHS


  • Ian Wheeler
    Ian Wheeler

    Ian Wheeler was not only a Cholsey kid, but actually lived at Fair Mile Hospital for the first three months of his life. This distinction, plus long-term family associations with the hospital, led to the publication of his book Fair Mile Hospital: a Victorian Asylum in 2015.

    Now busily retired, Ian’s ‘portfolio’ career has included sales, purchasing, computer systems, train driving, health & safety, quality assurance and editing for a major academic publisher. In quieter moments, Ian is a performing folk musician and enjoys model railways, morris dancing and good beer – although not necessarily in that order.