Like many other government institutions the change from the prison style ‘female factory‘ to a nineteenth century asylum for mental health patients was not an easy one. From 1848 through to the middle of the 1880s buildings for a new style of asylum were erected, but Greenway’s 1821 Female factory building, and the prison cells built by Governor Gipps, remained unchanged at the heart of the precinct.

In 1850 the old ‘female factory’ officially became the ‘Parramatta Lunatic Asylum’.[1] But the catalyst for substantial change to the site came in 1866 with the purchase of the adjacent thirty three acre ‘Vineyard Farm‘ and the construction of substantial new purpose-built structures to house male and female patients separately.[2] The first of these was the male weatherboard division, built in 1869-1870, and this was soon followed by a number of others.[3] Over the same period improvements and extensions were also made to the existing buildings to bring conditions in line with new way of thinking about mental health.

But through all these early changes Greenway’s iconic ‘female factory’ and the gloomy sandstone prison cells built by Governor Gipps were increasingly seen as redundant icons of an antiquated method for dealing with mental health. After the male patients were moved to the male weatherboard division, and the women to a similar wooden building in the northern part of the precinct both of these female factory’ buildings were destroyed.

In August 1883 the green light was given for the destruction of the 1838-1839 penitentiary wing and the stones from this building were used to make the new ‘No. 1 Male Ward’ now the ‘Institute of Psychiatry’ building[4]. Patients moved in around 1885 and this building is still standing on the site, with a turret clock similar to the one from the main ‘female factory’ building mounted in the spire.[5] A dining room was built behind this block about this time which is also still there.[6].

Greenway’s old ‘female factory’ was deemed beyond repair for the new asylum and demolished in 1885-1886. It’s stones were used for the foundations of a ‘religious services and recreational activities’ area.[7] A recreation hall was finally built near the Parramatta gaol in 1890 but it is not certain if this is on the site where the foundations had been laid in 1886. The recreation hall was built by patients and staff of the hospital so it is possible that it was the same location and used the same materials but this has yet to be verified.[8]

This move to a medical rather than prison and convict administration saw the site change its name a number of times right up to the present. As a result of the Lunacy act of 1878-the ‘Parramatta Lunatic Asylum’ was renamed the ‘Parramatta Hospital for the Insane’ and put under the direction of the Inspector General for the Insane, the first of which was Dr. F N Manning (1878-1898).[9] Manning was replaced by Dr. E Sinclair (1898-1920s).[10]

The late 1800s and early 1900s saw an increased focus on the surrounding gardens and in 1916 the hospital changed its name to the ‘Parramatta Mental Hospital’.[11] From 1962 to 1983 it was known as the ‘Parramatta Psychiatric Centre’ and finally from 1983 till the present it has been part of the ‘Cumberland Hospital’.[12]

by-saGeoff Barker, Research and Collections Services Coordinator, Parramatta City Council Heritage centre, 2015

References
[1] Conservation Management Plan and Archaeological Management Plan, Cumberland Hospital East Campus and Wisteria Gardens, Edward Higgenbotham & Associates PTY Ltd, Geoffrey Britton & Terry Kass, 2010, p.27
[2] Purchase cost was two thousand five hundred pounds. James Jervis, ‘The mental Hospital Parramatta, Royal Australian Historical Society, Journal and Proceedings, 1933, 192
[3] Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 66
[4] James Jervis, ‘The mental Hospital Parramatta, Royal Australian Historical Society, Journal and Proceedings, 1933, 197
[5] Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 61
[6] Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 64
[7] Weatherburn 1990, citing Annual Reports of Inspector-General of the Insane 1885 and 1886. Kass, Liston (1998) and others mix up which building was demolished and therefore which stone is the source of No 1 Male Ward, cited in Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 64
[8] Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 64
[9] Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 59
[10] Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 61
[11] Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 59
[12] Casey and Lowe, Cumberland Precinct and Sports & Leisure Precinct, 2014, 59