A memorial garden to mark the deaths of almost 3,000 people at a former psychiatric hospital has opened.

A total of 2,861 former patients of High Royds were buried in unmarked paupers' graves before a community group, Friends Of High Royds Memorial Garden, became legal owners of the land last year, following a lengthy legal battle.

They created the garden, in Buckle Lane, Menston with Lottery funding and raised money through a shareholder scheme involving local people and families of former patients, as well as holding fundraising events.

And on Saturday, they finally saw the culmination of their hard work as the memorial garden was opened by Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity MIND and the Reverend Ruth Yeoman, vicar at St John’s Parish Church in Menston.

Former High Royds patient Angel Heart, who has written three books of poetry and a collection of stories, said: “It’s right that we’ve done these people’s memories justice because before it was just a plot of land and a number.

“Now a list of everybody's names is in the restored chapel.”

Much of Angel’s work was inspired by her experiences at High Royds.

She wrote one poem, Mass Grave At Menston (A Walk In The Grounds), after visiting the mass burial site.

The Friends Of High Royds also commissioned the creation of a pitch pine Celtic-style cross, which was unveiled on the day.

The cross is made from wood from what was once the doctors’ and nurses’ quarters of the hospital.

It was crafted by Ilkley cabinet-maker, Brent Thompson, who also created Otley Chevin’s new Easter Cross, made from timbers salvaged from the bombed Arndale Centre in Manchester.

The hospital closed in 2003.

The main building has been converted to apartments and a housing development has been built in the grounds.

MIND lobbies the Government and local authorities on mental health issues and works to raise public awareness and understanding.

It also offers information and advice to people with mental health problem.

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