Historical aerial photo of Broadway Lodge


Since Broadway Lodge opened in 1974, many people have passed through its doors. They have experienced belonging, relief, support, anxiety, comfort, enlightenment and friendship. They have learnt that they are not alone and that others understand their situation. Stories are shared and new lives are discovered. With its gothic appearance and seeming maze of stairs and rooms, many have asked about the building and its history. Like those who have passed through the front doors, Broadway Lodge has its own story to tell.

Summarised below are some of the most significant events throughout Broadway Lodge’s own journey.

Historical aerial photo of Broadway Lodge

The history of Broadway Lodge

Before 1974

Broadway Lodge originates from a building called Totterdown Farm and the earliest document regarding the property that stood on the site is a sales account from 1755. Later, it became known as Totterdown House.

In 1923 it began a new life as a boarding school for girls and then in 1936, the Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society and the Order of the Poor Servants of God changed into the Totterdown Hall School for Girls, a convent school for high grade females over the age of sixteen with learning difficulties.

In the early 1970’s, enquiries were being made to set up a residential treatment centre for alcoholism. It was the brain child of Mr Travers Cousins who was, at that time the Director of the Bristol Council of Alcoholism. In 1974, an agreement was made so that Totterdown Hall could be rented from the Poor Sisters of the Mother of God. Dr.Dan Anderson from Minnesota agreed to be associated with the project and to provide guidance in setting it up.

This was a pioneering project as neither treatment centres nor the ‘Minnesota Method’ were recognised in the UK at this time. The trustees set out to establish a ‘Centre of Excellence for the treatment of Alcoholism’ which would be a model for others to develop their treatment centres. There was a recognition of the importance of staff training and of providing the means of obtaining reliable information about Alcoholism and so literature was imported from the USA (the only source).

The 12 Step Programme was then introduced to the UK by Broadway Lodge. In December 1974, the first patients arrived and the trustees soon recognised the need to include drug addiction in the service offered.

Historical moments since Broadway Lodge was established in 1974

Key events

1976 – The charity’s name changed from Totterdown Hall to Broadway Lodge, chosen partly because of the adjacent road name.

1977 – Broadway Lodge received its first media coverage with an article appearing in the Weston Press entitled ‘How a West Country House is Saving the Problem Drinkers’. It gave a brief outline of former patients’ stories and explains what a treatment centre was and how alcoholism is a hidden problem amongst the workplace and little understood by the medical profession.

1982 – An international conference was held at Bath University to publicise the work being done at Broadway Lodge. The following year, a larger conference was held at Oxford University which further built up Broadway Lodge’s reputation.

Princess Diana at Broadway Lodge in 1986

1986 – Princess Diana visited and brought her special touch. Apart from being a morale boost to patients and staff, the visit provided welcome press coverage and brought Broadway Lodge’s name to many people.

1989 – A visit from the Duchess of York gave another opportunity to show the world the work of Broadway Lodge by another high profile visit.

1993 – Broadway Lodge introduced Detoxification as an additional treatment into the programme as the first step towards long term recovery support.

1994 – Broadway Lodge introduced Renewal and Relapse Prevention Programmes for small groups of clients in recovery. The Renewal Programme was taken to other treatment centres such as Kenya and proved a successful tool to add to their existing 12 Step programme.

1997 – New technology arrived in the form of a new computer system, providing fast and efficient access to information and the production of a database.

1999 – Broadway Lodge celebrated 25 years of delivering treatment programmes and a visit from Keith Haliwell, the then Government Anti-Drugs Coordinator acknowledged that we were the longest established treatment centre in the UK, stating “It is the pioneer of drug rehabilitation…the results are really positive”.

2005 – Broadway Lodge admits its 6000th patient.

Broadway Lodge BBC documentary

2009 – Broadway Lodge buys two houses in Bristol to use as Third Stage Housing.

2014 – Broadway Lodge created a set of short films called ‘Reflections on the 12 Steps’ to provide a better understanding of the 12 Steps and to dispel myths around religion. These DVDs can be purchased via our online shop.

2017 – A 90 minute documentary about patients at Broadway Lodge called ‘Rehab: Live Addicted’, aired on BBC3 in June 2017. Film maker Phillip Wood spent 10-12 hours per day, 7 days a week for 3 months in winter 16/17 recording footage. The final documentary uncovered what is done to help people beat their addictions and to start rebuilding their lives.

2018 – A family programme held every other Sunday is reintroduced, open to relatives and friends of both clients and non clients suffering addiction, a valuable resource in the area.

2018 – Outpatient support was offered to those who do not require residential treatment or who are not yet ready for inpatient rehabilitation.

Chris Difford performing at Broadway Lodge 2018 Reunion

2018 – The September Reunion, themed ‘Strong & Inspirational Women in Recovery’, saw the first all-female share at the annual event. Another first was a very special live performance from song writing legend and frontman of British rock band Squeeze. Chris Difford kicked off the Reunion, entertaining attendees by performing several Squeeze classics including Cool for Cats and Up the Junction.