Photographs saved from the scrap heap when a psychiatric hospital closed are to go on display for the first time.

The collection examines the lives of staff who lived and worked at Fair Mile Hospital in Cholsey, near Wallingford, which was built as a lunatic asylum in 1870.

Among the photographs are snaps of patients in the occupational therapy unit weaving and making soft toys, employees performing in staff plays, and portraits of pre-First World War nurses.

Photos from before 1900 show staff dressed in prison warder uniforms.

The most sensitive pictures from the archive, of patients receiving treatment, will not go on display.

Many of the black-and-white photos were saved by former services manager Tony Spackman when the hospital and its former training school at Moulsford Manor closed seven years ago.

Mr Spackman, from Wallingford, said: “Most of them were just left in boxes in various cupboards.

“Moulsford Manor had closed, and the hospital said anything that was left behind was not wanted. I found a box with hundreds of photographs – mostly of the buildings and staff.

“I saved them simply because I had worked there for 30 years and came from the village, and there were a lot of people in the photographs that I knew.”

Some of the 400 photographs from the rescued archive will be going on display at Cholsey Day Centre, in Church Road, on Saturday, October 2.

The exhibition has been put together by amateur historian Ian Wheeler, 60, of Brentford Close, Cholsey, who discovered the existence of the photographs after researching his family history.

He said: “Fair Mile was my first home. When I was born, my grandmother Lilian Talbot worked in occupational therapy there, and my grandfather Leslie was a hall porter.

“My parents were lodging with them at the point I was born, and it was my home for my first three months.”

His great-grandparents also worked at Fair Mile.

The hospital, built to house mentally ill patients from Berkshire, operated as a self-sufficient community with a bakery, laundry and farm.

In 1948, it became part of the NHS, and stayed open until 2003 when Care in the Community saw the closure of many large mental hospitals.

The site is being redeveloped with 354 homes.