Back in 1827, the government decided to construct an Invalid Depot at New Norfolk, for invalid convicts (& paupers) who had to be put somewhere. They couldn’t be put to real work. They couldn’t hang around the hospital taking up beds, because like any good properly-built government institution, the hospital started running out of space soon after it was built. The new Invalid Depot was constructed about 1830.

Soon after the government decided it would be a good idea to send the lunatics out there, because they had to put somewhere and they couldn’t hang around the hospital taking up beds etc., also they kept getting out and causing trouble in the town, and so the complex was extended to form an asylum. Of course, they soon ran out of room here too, so more buildings were constructed.

About the 1850s, as with the other “Imperial institutions” the whole hospital was handed over to the colonial government’s control. (Until this time, the government hospitals were intended for the benefit of convicts in the government’s employ, and any paupers & assigned servants who could find (someone to pay) the fees. The rest of the population had to make their own arrangements. As far as I know, the New Norfolk asylum operated on the same principles. From the middle of the century, hospitals moved to be become wider public hospitals as we know them.) Buildings were constructed, re-modelled, demolished to suit prevailing ideas of the treatment of the mentally ill. Now if I have it right, in the 1930s the site became known as Lachlan Park Hospital (accompanied by a major building programme) and became part of the Royal Derwent in 1968.

An info-panel on site says: “From 1984 the name Royal Derwent Hospital was confined to the new psychiatric hospital, which then had 350-360 patients. The facility for the intellectually handicapped was re-named the Willow Court Residential Training Cetre and catered for 300 adult patients. Around this time the names of the buildings were changed from the institutional-sounding Ward titles to the more homelike Houses.”

Then the place closed in 2000. It’s owned by the local council now, and is being redeveloped. Some bits are more developed than others.  If you want to know more, the Willow Court History Group website is very useful.

The first buildings seen on entering are former Wards D & E (Derwent and Esperance Houses). Built in the 1930s as male dormitories.

More photos.

G Ward, aka Glenora House, also built 1930s as a male dormitory

Frescatti,  the Medical Superintendent’s house, constructed 1834, (Although I much prefer my 2004 photo)

A garden pond.


The administrative building, obviously from 1940s.


The barracks building, the original building on the site from 1830. More photos, mostly inside. Also, the willow.

I think this is the rear of Ward C, as you’re coming from the barracks.


Ward C aka Carlton House. From a nearby information panel:

The “Criminal Block” was built in 1908-09, abutting the Barracks and the Pillar Block and facing the original A and B wards. It was constructed by Stabb Bros at a cost of £8,000 ($1 million) was reported to be in use by May, 1909.

The Mercury reported that special planning had been needed, owing to the dangerous class of patients to be house: “Some of the most violent patients the State has known are detained at New Norfolk. Some of the men were at one time at Port Arthur.”

The newspaper’s description continued: “The main building of the new erection consists of a fine brick and stone two storied structure, containing 24 large single rooms, with a large dining-room and dayroom. The attendants have three bedrooms and a dining-room. There are two rooms fitted with porcelain enamelled baths and the latest types of lavatories; while hot and cold water is laid on. In nearly every particular especial precautions have had to be taken, owing to the character of those for whom the building is intended.” [Complete article ]

More photos, mostly inside.

(Information panel continued)

Between 1964-67 this building was extensively altered and modernised, The demolition of the old A and B wards in the mid-1960s provided C War with a very large exercise yard which was surrounded by a new 4.5m concrete wall within the hospital’s original brick wall.

In the 1970s the new Mental Health Services Commission brought abut the construction of the psychiatric hospital at Risdon Prison, near Hobart, that would cater for patients who had been committed to the Royal Derwent Hospital via the criminal courts. By 1982, Royal Derwent no longer accepted these “forensic” cases and C Ward was closed.

More photos. Mostly inside.

Through here, to what I think was the Occupational Therapy building. Back to the information panel!

Built between 1964-67 the Occupational Therapy building connected Wards A and C and consisted of a female and male workrooms, a main workroom, a state, change rooms, stores, a projection room, toilets, locker rooms and staff rooms.

Work undertaken included packing pegs for the Pioneer Woodware Company (New Norfolk’s famous peg factory) and collating for the Government Printer.

The building also served as a space for entertainment and social activities for the patients of the male and female Maximum Security Wards.

When Alonnah and Carlton Houses ceased to be used as security wards it enable the occupation therapy building to use used for activities fro the intellectually handicapped residents. These included discos, talent shows and sports carnivals.

More photos from inside, with lots of windows.

Nurses Home, built c.1911, and later used for male staff. More photos, but not inside.

Rear of the Nurses Home

The Ladies; Cottage was constructed 1868. I think it originally was a single storey. More photos, mostly of the verandah.

And that is it, other than some of the lawn decorations just to finish off.




2 thoughts on “Willow Court”

    1. I missed your comment, but they were taken during Dark Mofo last year. (Everyone else went to look at the art installations, I’m sure. I just went to take photos of the buildings. I’d like to go back when there’s less people but can’t see it happening.)

      If that a new layout for your website?

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