Alarm whistle for use by psychiatric warders

Alarm whistle for use by Warders at Winson Green Mental

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Alarm whistle for use by Warders at Winson Green Mental
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Alarm whistle for use by warders at The Birmingham City Mental Hospital, formerly the Birmingham City Asylum, in Winson Green. The design known as ‘the Metropolitan’ was the standard police whistle, German silver and made by J. Hudson and Co., Hockley, Birmingham 1890-1914.

The whistle is a small symbol of the application of security and control within the network of large psychiatric hospitals that were mainly established during the 19th century. This design, known as ‘the Metropolitan’, was also for many years the standard whistle supplied to police forces across the country. It could be used to highlight perceived misdemeanours or as a means of curbing patients’ disruptive or aggressive behaviour. They were also used by warders to call for assistance.

The whistle was issue to warding staff at the Birmingham City Mental Hospital, known at other times as Winson Green Asylum, Birmingham City Asylum, Birmingham Mental Hospital and finally the All Saints’ Hospital prior to its closure in 2000. It was made of ‘German silver’ by J. Hudson and Company, based in Barr Street, Hockley in Birmingham. By the 2000s, the company, re-named as Acme Whistles, was said to be the largest producer of whistles in the world.


Psychology, Psychiatry & Anthropometry
Object Number:
german silver
overall: 81 mm, 18 mm, .036 kg
depth: 16mm
height: 16mm
weight: 0.03kg
weight: 0.06614lbs
width: 85mm
alarm whistle
Queen Elizabeth Hospital