Sydney Architecture Images- Western Suburbs

Central Block, original building


Mortimer Lewis (Colonial Architect)


Gladesville Hospital. 




Old Colonial Grecian


Earliest external Grecian Ionic order. 


Prior to 1838, people with mental or emotional problems in the Sydney area were housed in a "lunatic asylum" in Liverpool, a suburb on the south-east fringes of Sydney, or at the Female Factory in Parramatta, twenty-four kilometres west of Sydney. In the 1830s, construction of a purpose-built asylum began on the banks of the Parramatta River, in the area now known as Gladesville. The original sandstone complex was designed by the Colonial Architect, Mortimer Lewis, between 1836 and 1838.[1] Patients were then transferred from Liverpool and the Female Factory.[2]

The first supervisor was John Thomas Digby, who sought to improve the treatment of the mentally ill, as did his successor, Frederick Norton Manning. On a visit to Sydney in 1867, Manning was invited by Henry Parkes to become medical superintendent of the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum. Before accepting, Manning went overseas and studied methods of patient care and administration of asylums; on his return to Sydney he submitted a notable report. He was appointed to Tarban Creek on 15 October 1868 and immediately reported on the isolation of patients from their relations in accommodation best described as 'prison-like and gloomy', the inadequate facilities for their gainful employment and recreation and the monotonous diets deficient in both quantity and quality. In January 1869 the asylum's name was changed to the Hospital for the Insane, Gladesville, wherein patients were to receive treatment rather than be confined in a 'cemetery for diseased intellects'. By 1879 radical changes in patient care and accommodation had been made. Gladesville was extended and modernized and an asylum for imbeciles set up in Newcastle and a temporary asylum at Cooma. Manning minimized the use of restraint and provided for patient activities

The hospital continued to grow, sometimes through acquiring nearby properties. One notable acquisition was that of The Priory, a two-storey sandstone house in Salter Street, Gladesville. The house was built in the late 1840s, possibly by a family named Stubbs. In the 1850s, it was sold to the Marist Fathers, who had an influence on the early development of Hunters Hill. The hospital acquired it in 1888. It was listed on the Register of the National Estate in 1978.[3]

In 1915, the designation was changed again when the complex became known as the Gladesville Mental Hospital. In 1993, the Gladesville hospital was amalgamated with the Macquarie Hospital at North Ryde to create Gladesville Macquarie Hospital. In 1997, all inpatient services were consolidated at the Macquarie, North Ryde site.