History of Dawlish Gardens Trust

Langdon Hospital in Dawlish, Devon was a residential institution built in 1934 to intern individuals ‘suffering from a mental deficiency’.  It was owned and managed by Exeter Health Authority.   Patients at Langdon were expected to rise early every morning and help with daily tasks.  These tasks consisted of cleaning duties, kitchen duties, upholstery skills, laundry duties or gardening duties in the 70 acres of gardens and grounds around the hospital.

The in-patient facility aspect of Langdon Hospital ended in 1992 when residents were discharged into the community.  They were no longer the responsibility of the Health Authority but that of Social Services.

Maintenance of the gardens at Langdon Hospital continued as a Day Service to the client group – now known as Adults with a Learning Disability.  Ian Harris was the Manager of Grounds and Gardens for Exeter Health Authority and Langdon Hospital was one of the sites he had responsibility for.   During the 1992 changes in the NHS roles and responsibilities changed too.  Ian, together with LD Nurse Mike Adams and Dr John Whitehead (GP) decided to form a trust to deliver a horticultural day service. It was clear to the founding trustees that without this ex-patients would be disadvantaged without support to help them maximise their individual potential.

Ians photoOriginal patients from Langdon Hospital who started with  Dawlish Gardens Trust

The Trust was given permission to rent the 70 acres at Langdon Hospital for the Dawlish Gardens Trust charity. DGT stayed there for 10 years during which time they started an on-site Farm Shop to sell the produce they were growing in the grounds at Langdon Hospital.


Whilst this model was successful the Trust became aware that to meet the changing client requirements they would need to focus on providing basic education and Life Skills.  Using a timely donation they were able to purchase the current seven acre site in Port Road, Dawlish and commenced developing the required infrastructure.

Much has happened over the last 26 years.  In conjunction with Social Services an exciting plan was developed which included providing quality training to help our Attendees to develop in self confidence and well being. The Trust has grown from providing a service for around 8 clients to now providing for more than a 100 Attendees every week.

We have an extensive and well developed site with buildings developed for specific needs and services.  Our staff have been selected for the skills they bring to add to the quality of delivery for the Attendees.

DGT is now recognised by local Social Services and Councils as the main provider of this sort of activity in South Devon.