Tasmania's Heritage

Agency Details

Agency Number: TA465
Title: ROYAL DERWENT HOSPITAL
Start Date: 01 Jan 1827
End Date: 30 Nov 2000
Description:

To provide in-patient treatment and rehabilitation of mentally ill and mentally handicapped persons, including treatment of alcoholics.

Lunatics were sent to the Asylum in Sydney until the separation of New South Wales and Van Dieman's Land in 1824. Thereafter they were housed in the Colonial Hospitals.

An Invalid Depot, with a small hospital to treat periods of acute illness and serve the local community, was established at New Norfolk. The first invalids were admitted on 2 June 1827. A Lunatics Ward was added two years later and the first admissions were on 8 April 1829. Initially the inmates were all male. The first female admission, to the lunatic ward, was on 14 January 1831. In 1832 Lt-Governor Arthur decided to concentrate all lunatics at New Norfolk. The new buildings, finished in 1834, could house 110 male and 20 female invalids and 40 lunatics of each sex.

As a result of overcrowding the invalids were transferred to other invalid stations attached to convict depots in 1837 and thereafter the establishment at New Norfolk was used predominantly for the treatment of mental diseases.

Changes in the name of the Institution since that date have reflected changes in community and/or government attitude towards mental illness.The principal name changes, dated as accurately as possible, are as follows: Lunatic Asylum, New Norfolk 1829-1859, Hospital for the Insane, New Norfolk 1859-1915, Mental Diseases Hospital, New Norfolk 1915-1937, Lachlan Park Hospital 1937-1968, Royal Derwent Hospital 1968 - 2001. Developments within the Asylum/Hospital also reflected changing community attitudes.

In the early years, however, the most notable influence on the Asylum was the cyclical nature of the Colonial economy. Pressure on the Asylum's resources was only resolved by further discharges of invalids. All female invalids were transferred to Hobart Colonial Hospital in 1846 and the remaining male invalids in 1848. That year general hospital treatment for the local community also ceased. Henceforth New Norfolk was exclusively a mental institution.

Both free settlers and convicts were treated at New Norfolk, although violent convicts were transferred to the Asylum established at Port Arthur. On 1 October 1855 the Asylum was transferred from the Imperial to the Colonial establishment. Overcrowding was again relieved by transfers, all remaining convict inmates being moved to Port Arthur. From then on overcrowding could only be relieved by new buildings or extensions to existing ones, a constant source of tension between the Colonial Government and the Board of Commissioners appointed to supervise the operation of the Asylum. Indeed, as late as 1880 the Commissioners felt compelled to point out, in their annual report, that the need for a Hospital for the Insane would not pass with the passing of the generation of ex-convicts.

The Insane Persons Hospital Act, 1858 (22 Vict. No. 23) reconstituted the Commissioners and established a legislative framework for the Hospital. By 1864 the Commissioners were able to report that separate cottages had been erected for men, women and boys of the "better class", that many of the walls had been removed and that recreations had been introduced. These changes were not permanenet, however, as economic pressures constantly forced changes.

Tensions with Government came to a head in 1883 with the establishment of a Royal Commission. Its recommendations were ignored, most probably because it criticised the Government for its neglect and poor funding. The following year a Specialists Committee was established and its report repeated the critisisms of the Royal Commission. The Government's response was to legislate in 1885 (49 Vict. No. 35) to abolish the Commissioners. Much of their executive power devolved upon the Medical Superintendent and Official Visitors were appointed. The duties of the latter were largely limited to reporting on periodic inspections.

During the 1890's the surviving convict insane, who had been housed at the Cascades since the closure of Port Arthur, were transferred to New Norfolk. The majority came in 1890. Those classified as criminally insane were initially transferred to a Hospital for the Insane established within the Campbell Street Gaol.This was closed in December 1893 and its 27 patients were transferred to New Norfolk. Once again New Norfolk was the only Hospital for the Insane in Tasmania.

After World War I a complementary institution was developed on land belonging to the Millbrook Estate which had been suggested for addition to New Norfolk on several occasions. The Millbrook Rise Psychopathic Hospital opened in 1934 and for the first ten years its medical staff were provided by what had become Lachlan Park Hospital. The relationship continued to be a close one, with patients moving between the two hospitals according to their condition and needs. Lachlan Park became the Royal Derwent Hospital on 27 March 1968 and absorbed Millbrook Rise on 1 July that year.

Even in the 20th century there were periodic Royal Commissions and Committees of Enquiry and progress was slow and halting. Specialist training for the staff was commenced in 1919 but abandoned two years later. Although "activities" had been provided since the 1860s occupational therapy was not formalised until 1936 and occupational therapists were not appointed until 1946. The first social worker followed in 1949. The most recent enquiries into the Royal Derwent were in 1972 and 1979.

Possibly the most dramatic change was the establishment, by the Mental Health Services Act 1967, of a Board of Management for the Royal Derwent. The Board, which came into being on 1 July 1968, brought the Royal Derwent into line with the other hospitals in the State.

Changing attitudes led to the separation of facilities for the intellectually disabled from those for the treatment of mental illness and responsibility for the former was transferred to the Department of Community Services in 1990 as the Willow Court program.

During the 1990s attitudes to the long-term treatment of mental illness changed and the wards at the Royal Derwent were progressively closed as treatment and support were made available through health facilities located in the wider community and wards were opened in the Royal Hobart and Launceston General Hospitals to treat acute psychiatric cases. The institution was effectively shut down in November 2000.

Information Sources:

Legislation Administered:

The legislation governing the hospital has always been administered by the agency controlling it.

Legislation Creating:

Administrative action (Imperial) created the original lunatic asylum but subsequent name changes had a legislative basis.

By proclamation under the Insane Persons' Hospitals Act 1858 (22 Vict. No. 23) the name was changed to the New Norfolk Hospital for the Insane (HTG 4 January 1859, p. 39).

The Mental Diseases Hospitals Act 1915 (6 Geo. V No. 8, Section 2) changed the name to Mental Diseases Hospital as of 28 October that year.

On 20 May 1937 the Governor revoked the 1859 proclamation and, again using Section 2 of the 1915 Act, proclaimed that the hospital now be known as Lachlan Park Hospital (TGG 25 May 1937, p. 1013).

The name Royal Derwent Hospital was granted by Royal Decree on 27 March 1967.

Legislation Abolishing Agency:

Administrative action. Sale of the site was authorised by the Royal Derwent Hospital (Sale of Land) Act 1995.

Functions Performed:
11 HEALTH CARE [1]
Controlling Agencies:
TA315 GOVERNOR'S OFFICE 01 Jan 1825
TA980 COMMISSIONERS OF THE HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE 01 Jan 1859 05 Dec 1885
TA21 CHARITABLE GRANTS DEPARTMENT 01 Jan 1872 31 Dec 1934
TA19 DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH 06 Jan 1904 01 Aug 1956
TA875 HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE DEPARTMENT 01 Jan 1907 31 Dec 1915
TA876 MENTAL DISEASES HOSPITAL DEPARTMENT 01 Jan 1915 31 Dec 1920
TA11 DIVISION OF MENTAL HYGIENE 01 Dec 1945 31 Dec 1956
TA12 DIVISION OF MENTAL HEALTH 01 Aug 1956 02 Apr 1963
TA13 DIVISION OF PSYCHIATRIC SERVICES 02 Apr 1963 01 Jul 1968
TA155 BOARD OF MANAGEMENT - ROYAL DERWENT HOSPITAL 01 Jul 1968 30 Nov 2000
Previous Agencies:
TA336 HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE, CASCADES 01 Jan 1877 31 Dec 1890
TA885 HOSPITAL FOR THE INSANE, HOBART 06 Aug 1890 31 Dec 1893
TA469 MILLBROOK RISE PSYCHOPATHIC HOSPITAL 21 Feb 1934 01 Jul 1968
Subsequent Agencies:
TA441 ROYAL HOBART HOSPITAL 01 Jan 1820
TA155 BOARD OF MANAGEMENT - ROYAL DERWENT HOSPITAL 01 Jul 1968 30 Nov 2000
TA1649 WILLOW COURT 01 Jul 1990 30 Nov 2000
TA1606 COMMUNITY AND RURAL HEALTH DIVISION 18 Sep 1998 01 Jul 2002
Related Agencies:
TA982 INVALID DEPOT, NEW NORFOLK 03 Apr 1827 20 Jun 1848
TA469 MILLBROOK RISE PSYCHOPATHIC HOSPITAL 21 Feb 1934 01 Jul 1968
TA11 DIVISION OF MENTAL HYGIENE 01 Dec 1945 31 Dec 1956
TA298 BOARD OF INQUIRY INTO A DISTURBANCE AT ROYAL DERWENT HOSPITAL 01 Jan 1972 31 Dec 1973
TA390 BOARD OF INQUIRY INTO THE ROYAL DERWENT HOSPITAL AND MILLBROOK RISE HOSPITAL. 23 May 1979 31 Aug 1979
Series Created By Agency:
HSD247  PATIENT RECORDS - ADMISSION REGISTER. 01 Jan 1830 28 Feb 1954
HSD254  PATIENT RECORDS - REGISTER OF DEATH, TRANSFER OR DISCHARGE OF PATIENTS. 04 Jan 1830 11 Jul 1966
HSD104  ALPHABETICAL MONTHLY REGISTER OF PATIENTS AND ATTENDANTS, WITH DETAILS OF DIET. 01 Apr 1841 31 Aug 1842
HSD55  PATIENT RECORDS - CASE BOOKS. 01 Nov 1842 30 Nov 1843
HSD285  PATIENT RECORDS - ADMISSION PAPERS. 04 Feb 1843 27 Nov 1964
HSD256  STAFF RECORDS - REGISTER OF ATTENDANTS. 17 Nov 1844 30 Dec 1854
HSD246  PATIENT RECORDS - CASE BOOKS (ALL PATIENTS). 01 Jan 1845 31 Dec 1854
HSD57  MONTHLY RETURNS OF THE NON-MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT AND PATIENTS. 01 Apr 1845 30 Jun 1846
HSD258  STAFF RECORDS - REGISTER OF NURSES AND WARDSWOMEN. 03 Oct 1845 09 Aug 1854
HSD51  PATIENT RECORDS - CASE BOOKS (MALE). 01 Apr 1849 31 Jan 1874
HSD58  FINANCE RECORDS - STORES ISSUE REGISTER. 13 Feb 1850 31 Dec 1866
AB923  MISCELLANEOUS RETURNS. 01 Jul 1852 30 Apr 1854
HSD52  PATIENT RECORDS - CASE BOOKS (FEMALE). 01 Dec 1854 31 Jan 1872
HSD257  STAFF RECORDS - STAFF REGISTER. 01 Jan 1855 31 Dec 1885
HSD45  MEDICAL SUPERINTENDENT'S LETTERBOOK. 16 Oct 1855 11 May 1867
HSD284  PATIENT FILES. 05 Jul 1857 23 Dec 1993
HSD271  COPIES OF RETURNS SUBMITTED BY THE MEDICAL SUPERINTENDENT TO THE COLONIAL SECRETARY. 01 May 1861 30 Apr 1864
HSD48  MEMORANDUM FROM THE COLONIAL SECRETARY SECRETARY SEEKING A RETURN OF PATIENTS. 01 Jan 1869 31 Dec 1869
HSD56  PATIENT RECORDS - WEEKLY MEDICAL JOURNALS. 14 Jun 1869 28 Nov 1964
AB365  PATIENT RECORDS - CASE BOOKS (ALL PATIENTS). 01 Jan 1872 31 Dec 1938
HSD252  PATIENT RECORDS - ALPHABETICAL REGISTER OF PATIENTS. 01 Jan 1888 31 Dec 1974
AB922  PATIENT RECORDS - REGISTER OF FEMALE PATIENTS. 01 Jan 1888 31 Dec 1897
AB479  PATIENT RECORDS REMOVED FROM CASE BOOKS. 25 Jan 1894 20 Apr 1979
AB515  PATIENT RECORDS - REGISTER OF PATIENT'S NEXT-OF-KIN. 01 Jan 1897 31 Dec 1979
HSD286  GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE. 01 Jan 1899 31 Dec 1949
HSD288  PATIENT RECORDS - INDEX TO PATIENT FILES. 01 Jan 1899 31 Dec 1941
HSD289  CORRESPONDENCE REGISTER. 01 Jan 1909 31 Dec 1941
AB389  STAFF RECORDS - PERSONNEL FILES. 01 Jan 1914 31 Dec 1984
HSD290  STAFF NOTICES AND MEMORANDUM BOOK. 01 Jan 1918 31 Dec 1940
HSD263  DAILY WARD REPORTS - FEMALE DIVISION. 01 Jan 1918 28 Nov 1964
HSD50  PATIENT RECORDS - HEREDITY CHARTS OF 11 NAMED PATIENTS. 01 Jan 1918 31 Dec 1919
HSD266  FINANCE RECORDS - RECORD OF PAYMENTS FOR PATIENTS. 01 Jan 1920 31 Dec 1944
HSD233  FINANCE RECORDS - REGISTER OF DRUGS ISSUED FROM THE STORE. 01 Nov 1923 30 Jun 1932
HSD59  FINANCE RECORDS - REGISTER OF PROVISIONS AND MEDICAL EXTRAS ISSUED. 01 Jan 1927 31 Dec 1931
HSD287  COPIES OF OUTWARD CORRESPONDENCE (INCOMPLETE). 01 Jan 1936 31 Dec 1942
HSD291  PATIENT RECORDS - REPORTS ON INSULIN COMA AND SOMNIFANE THERAPY. 01 Jan 1939 31 Dec 1965
HSD262  DAILY WARD REPORTS - MALE DIVISION. 13 Mar 1939 08 May 1970
HSD267  FINANCE RECORDS - CASH BOOK. 27 Jun 1940 19 Dec 1944
HSD272  FINANCE RECORDS - RECORD OF PAYMENTS FOR GOODS AND SERVICES. 01 Nov 1940 30 Jun 1942
AB530  PATIENT RECORDS - REGISTER OF MENTAL DEFECTIVES. 01 Jan 1941 31 Dec 1947
HSD264  DAILY WARD REPORTS - GOVERNMENT INSTITUTION FOR DEFECTIVES. 23 Oct 1941 22 Mar 1964
HSD261  RECORD OF DAILY PATIENT STRENGTH (LACHLAN PARK AND MILLBROOK RISE). 01 Jan 1946 31 Mar 1964
HSD248  PATIENT RECORDS - ADMISSION REGISTER. 01 Dec 1964 05 Jan 2001
HSD249  PATIENT RECORDS - REGISTER OF ADMISSIONS FOR TREATMENT. 02 Dec 1964 30 Jun 1966
HSD250  PATIENT RECORDS - REGISTER OF ADMISSIONS FOR OBSERVATIONS. 03 Dec 1964 29 Jun 1966
HSD268  FINANCE RECORDS - LIVESTOCK LEDGER. 01 Oct 1965 31 Jul 1971