AN Edwardian garden pavilion, which has stood on the site of the former Bromsgrove lunatic asylum since the early 1900s, is to be given a new lease of life at a town museum.

Preserved as part of the redevelopment of the Barnsley Hall Hospital site into a housing estate the structure, known as an airing court shelter, originally opened in June 1907 for male epileptic patients.

Airing courts were key features of asylums and designed to provide open-air exercise for patients.

At Barnsley Hall Hospital they were landscaped grass areas, enclosed by railings, to ensure patients didn’t escape. Each court contained an octagonal shelter to protect patients from the elements.

Despite residents’ best efforts the shelter proved difficult to maintain, especially after becoming a target for persistent vandalism.

Recognising the building’s historic value, Avoncroft Museum stepped in to rescue the pavilion.

Simon Carter, director of Avoncroft Museum, said: “Although a simple structure, it’s important because it tells us a lot about the changing attitudes to hospitals and the treatment of mentally ill patients.

“Despite being modern, light and airy when it opened, it was still a place where people who had treatable disorders such as epilepsy were confined away from their families and society.”

In partnership with Kier Construction and local charities the George Cadbury Trust, the RD Turner Trust and the 29th May 1961 Trust, museum volunteers are now relocating the shelter piece by piece to the Stoke Heath-based museum.

The painstaking process requires careful stripping of roof tiles, removal of the timber roof, dismantling of the internal wooden partitions and bench seating, and removal of eight supporting cast iron columns.

The museum is aiming for it to re-erected by Easter and, after a complete restoration, it will be opened to the public by late summer.

The plan is for the shelter to provide a resting point for visitors on the way to the top of the bank, above the Museum’s ice house, where an observation and orientation point will also be established.