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American boys would flash their money about or come down in their large American cars, obviously the not so well paid nurses could not compete, much of the World War Two resentful feelings of ‘Over sexed, Over Paid and Over Here’ would ring around the hospital. During the mid 1970s it was very clear that the asylums days were coming to an end, so many people could now be treated very cheaply outside of a large and expensive institution that the old dream of Enoch Powell’s to rid Britain of the Victorian asylums was becoming a reality. The end was still over 20 years away but slowly the system was shutting down. In the following years the staff began finding more stable careers elsewhere, many going abroad. For the first time in the Hospitals history less staff were needed as the patient numbers began to decrease, As wards emptied the beds were sold or scrapped so it would be impossible to take in new patients, therefore these wards would be closed forever. At its peak the hospital held 1,200 patients by 1989 there were just 600 live-in patients, by the hospitals closure there were 0nly 260 The new system of Care in the community was the order of the day with specialist buildings being built in Luton and Stevenage, quiet areas of housing estates would also have small units built to rehouse the patients. The Orchards on the Grange Estate in Letchworth for example. Patients would now have to live among the general populace living normal lives, which meant having to go shopping, cook, clean and in general look after themselves and for the first time put up with the stares and ‘Mickey-taking’ from for some the so called normal members of society. This was a tragedy and some patients could not cope. Many missed the safety and comfort of an institutional life, being split up from friends and familiar staff members was a shock to the system and this caused distress. We have spoken to Mario and Anna’s story . . . There was a European recruitment for workers in the mid 1950’s. Anna’s sister already worked for the hospital so in 1957 she sent over a recruitment form for Anna. Mario’s brother lived in Bedford and he sent a recruitment form for him. they eventually were interviewed through an interpreter in Italy and within three months received a contract. However they learned that matrons had been to various countries in Europe recruiting staff and these staff were given a contract immediately if they were successful. Neither Mario or Anna were nurses and their contract initially stated ‘Domestic’. Mario arrived 23rd December 1956 when it was snowing and was housed in a dormitory within the hospital. Anna arrived October 1957 and again was housed in a dormitory. Neither could speak any English or had any experience in nursing. They said that there were a lot of others who came from various countries who were in the same position. They had to pay for their travel here and make their own way to the hospital. At the outset both found the weather, such as snow and fog very disconcerting. They were put to work on the wards within four days of arriving and had to learn both English and nursing whilst on the job. After 2 years Mario wanted to get another job but was informed that the 155 years Three Counties Asylum Celebration Day Sunday 28th June at the Stotfold Memorial Hall from 10.00am till 4.00pm quite a number of ex patients and we have not met one who was glad to be out of Fairfield. It may not have been perfect but to them it was home, it was familiar, they knew the daily routine, they knew the staff and mixed together with other patients who were their friends. They were safe and mostly shielded from the troubles of the outside world. It has now been sixteen years since Fairfield Hospital closed and even today some ex-patients still visit Fairfield on a regularly basis, they can be seen wandering the grounds because to them it is still home, a place of asylum. But what about the staff? Many of those were unintentionally institutionalised, they had worked at the hospital for many years, knew their routine and the hospital inside and out. It was a safe place to be with many friends and familiar faces to chat to and work with every day. All these people would be split apart and have to find new jobs and meet new people, their own daily routine changed forever. Speak to any long term ex-staff members and they will tell you it was a fantastic place to work, many say it was the best job they ever had, and the best time of their lives – they miss it to. Fairfield hospital has turned another corner in its life and has now been re - christened as Fairfield Hall, the old building stands as a peaceful and calm tribute to the past but also stands as a modern vision of the future by being home to many, and a business for others. Again its wards and rooms are full with people who, like the previous occupants, are just passing through. It has now been 155 years since the Three Counties Asylum opened its doors to receive its first twelve pauper lunatic patients on March 8th 1860, Many thousands of People have passed through its doors since then and many people have yet to, Whatever has happened within its walls and whatever is yet to happen, one thing is certain, George Fowler Jones’s 1860 vision of a place in the country will stand as its own monument forever. contract was for 4 years. He could return to Italy but not work else where. This, he said was not explained to him at the outset. Anna and Mario eventually married and moved to their first house in Arlesey. Both of them felt that there was discrimination around the folk from Italy as very often they were not offered overtime and at one particular time Marion went to The Consulate in Bedford to report various happenings that he felt were wrong. One particular one was that there were lists put up in respect of members of staff attending church, by themselves and with patients b