Morisset Hospital Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Morisset Hospital Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Morisset Hospital Precinct
Other name/s: Ward, Medical Records, Ambulance Training, Psych. Rehab Building
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Health Services
Category: Hospital
Location: Lat: -33.1296153112 Long: 151.5107437150
Primary address: Morisset Park Road, Morisset, NSW 2264
Local govt. area: Lake Macquarie
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Biraban
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP880557
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Morisset Park RoadMorissetLake Macquarie  Primary Address
60 Stockton StreetMorissetLake MacquarieMorissetNorthumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
NSW Department of HealthState Government 

Description

Designer/Maker: NSW Government Architect's Office
Builder/Maker: NSW Department of Public Works
Construction years: 1906-1959
Physical description: Site:
Overall Morisset Hospital site comprises almost 100 historic buildings on 1,244 hectares (Treeology P/L, 2014, 6, 8)(NSWPWD, 1988, 2 notes it is located on a 500 acre site outside the residential area and add that the hospital campus is spread out over c.100 acres, which is heavily wooded).

It is approximately 3km southewast of the township of Morisset south of Duck Hole Creek and facing east (Treeology P/L, 2014, 6). The Hospital farms are located north of Duck Hole Creek. The site extends as far west as the railway line, east to Charles Avenue, Kendall Grange, north to Fishery Point Road and approximately half a kilometer south of the Forensic Psychiatry Wards (which are south-west of the main hospital campus, inside a 6m high walled enclosure (NSW PWD, 1988, 2) on the western side of Lake Macquarie, which forms a natural (eastern) boundary. The influence of the lake on the site is profound. Previailing summer breezes from east and northeast make it a pleasant location. Southerly changes will impact on the section of the site near the Recreation Hall where it is exposed to strong winds (Treeology P/L, 2014, 6, 8).

The eastern side of the grounds is bounded by Lake Macquarie State Recreation Area managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service. The eastern side adjoins the Koompahtoo Aboriginal Reserve. The site is close to the suburban areas of the Morisset peninsula, with a densely vegetated zone surrounding the hospital of either natural or regenerated bushland. Remnant native vegetation communities are still present. On the lake fring, Casuarina sp. dominate the littoral (shore) zone. Forest red gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) and rough-barked apple gum (Angophora floribunda) plant communities are found with existing trees likely to pre-date the site's 1909 development. Scribbly gum and bloodwood (E.haemostoma) forest dominate the sandstone-based soil zones on higher ground. The site has been extensively planted over many years with a diversity of species still present. Remnants of previous gardens that would have been shaped and planted with site development occur (Treeology P/L, 2014, 6, 8).

There are approximately 80 different species of trees and palms on the site, including remnant (native) species. The oldest planted trees and palms present are about the Recreation Hall and Chapel grounds, the zone between Jacaranda Avenue and Grevillea Road, along Palm Way and on the north eastern side of Waratah Way (Treeology P/L, 2014, 6, 8).

Some remnant trees on the northern side of the Recreation Hall and southern end of Eucalyptus Drive are likely to predate development of the site, based on trunk diameters (Treeology P/L, 2014, 6, 8).

The Hospital Precinct comprises:
MS-12 Wards 5 & 6
MS-13 Ward 9, Clinical Department
MS-14 Ward 10
MS-15 The Chapel
MS-16 Recreation Hall, 1909
MS-17 The Main Store
MS-19 Residence no.1
MS-20 Ward 17, General Psychiatry
MS-23 Ward 12
MS-24 Residence no.3
MS-26 Cottage Row Residence no.s 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21
All are identified as of state and local heritage significance (Draft Lake Macquarie LEP 2002 schedule 4a) Heritage items, 29/11/02, 129).

The site has a diverse population fo mature trees, in areas about buildings occupied by clients, used by staff, open space areas frequently used by visitors to the grounds and along roadways and pedestrian zones. A total of 745 having been assessed (Treeology P/L).

A cemetery formerly associated with the Hospital is off Nentoura Road, Morisset on an isolated bushland site. Its Anglican section has a lych gate and the oldest headstone is dated 1911. The cemetery has been managed by Lake Macquarie City Council since c.1974. Older sections of the cemetery are set aside in General, Catholic, Anglican, and Uniting (Presbyterian/Methodist) rows. There are many unmarked graves of patients from the Morisset Hospital buried throughout the eastern side of the cemetery (http://www.lakemac.com.au/services/cemeteries/morisset). This cemetery has a Memorial Wall, made of grey granite with a large black granite memorial plaque with a dedication to the former Morisset Hospital patients who are buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery. It also has spaces available for filling on either side for families wishing to memorialise their relatives individually (http://www.lakemac.com.au/downloads/A13C7DCC8E859A8D8C89781612A77453BA13919B.pdf).

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS - 1993:
The hospital is approximately three and a half kilometres south-east of the town of Morisset, & 45 km south-west of Newcastle.

The site consists of 1244 hectares of land, extending from Lake Macquarie on the east, to the Great Northern Railway on the west. The northern boundary is Fishery Point Road & Morisset Park Road. There is cleared land between Pourmalong Creek & Morisset Park Road, and the hospital grounds are landscaped, but most of the rest of the site is bushland.

The cleared land is (or was) probably part of the original "Industrial Farm Colony for suitable patients" proposed in 1906.

DESCRIPTION:
The developed hospital grounds are in two quite distinct sections, being: the large area of the general Hospital for the Insane, beautifully land-scaped & sloping down to the waters of the lake on the east; and the much smaller area of the Hospital for the Criminally Insane, isolated in a cleared patch of bushland, and walled like a medieval city.

The site contains close to 100 buildings, a few of which are described separately in other inventory entries.

There are many superb specimens of introduced & indigenous trees.

A copy of the Site Plan from the PWD & Eckford Johnson "Morisset Hospital Master Development Control Plan", shows the approximate location of works & buildings individually included in this Heritage Study Inventory, but not including the Farms (north of Pourmalong Creek) & the Water Supply Dam (east of Cottage Row).

Image A - (Doring Neg.409.09) shows a short section of the avenue of trees leading to the Hospital grounds from Morisset. The planted avenue is some hundreds of metres long and consists of double rows of Brush Box (Tristania conferta) and Norfolk Island Hibiscus (The last possibly not correctly identified) on either side of the road. The avenue is an important part of the landscaping of the hospital approaches, probably dating from the 1930s. The corner of a bus shelter is on the left. The view is of the south side of the road looking east. The rows of trees are more clearly defined on the north side of the carriageway. The two 'roos were while disturbed fossicking through rubbish from the overturned bin (like bears in Yellowstone Park!).

Image B - (scan) Reduced copy of Site Plan from the PWD & Eckford Johnson "Morisset Hospital Master Development Control Plan", showing the approximate location of works & buildings individually included in this Heritage Study Inventory, but not including the Farms (north of Pourmalong Creek) & the Water Supply Dam (east of Cottage Row). This drawing can be read on a full screen.

Morisset Hospital for the Insane was NSW's 2nd important insane asylum to be built outside the Sydney area, & (in the 1930s) included the 1st prison specifically set up for the criminally insane.

The whole development is extraordinary, combining an idyllic concept of natural beauty as a catalyst for mental healing, a 19th century ideal of labour as a healing instrument, & an atavistic isolation of the abnormal.
The concept of beautiful surroundings is also embodied in some of the buildings, though not necessarily those the patients inhabited.

Significant items include circa 26 buildings, trees & vegetation groups, vistas, a dam, a jetty, the farms, and the native fauna.

LEVEL of SIGNIFICANCE - 1993: State Significance - High
Regional Significance - high
Local Significance - very high
Group Significance - very high (Suters et al, 1993).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
It is understood from discussions with the hospital engineer and manager that many of the buildings have been subject to white ant (termite) attack (NSWPWD, 1988, 2)
Date condition updated:08 May 15
Modifications and dates: 1907 clearing of the land and preparation of the hospital site. Construction of roadways to enable access for building. One of the roads 'The Avenue' was planted with Yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera). Further plantings occurred in later years. 'The Avenue' is the main road leading in to the township of Morisset.

1908 construction of Ward 1. November 1908 construction of the Recreation Hall commenced.

1909 Ward 1 opened. Construction of further buildings well under way.

1910 Temporary calico dormitories erected. These buildings consisted of a wooden frame, calico side panels, wooden floors and a canvas fly over the whole building. Manager's residence constructed.

1911 The Cricket oval, poultry yards & gardens completed.

1914 The building programme largely suspended due to the outbreak of World War 1. The hospital fishing fleet was assembled.

1916 The main store built, remains standing (2006)

1920 A new ward opened. Theatrical stage, which slopes from back to front, was added to the Recreation Hall

1930 Land set aside at Morisset for establishment of a hospital for the Criminally Insane.

1933 The ward for the Criminally Insane was now commenced.

1936 Only tank or dam water was available at the hospital.

1938 New Male Refractory wards opened.

1939 World War 2 & a lack of funds held up all construction. Serious drought resulted in acute water shortage at Morisset. An emergency service from Pourmalong Creek was constructed.

1954 The Hospital Chapel foundation stone laid.

1957 The Chapel opened.

1962 The new dairy used for the first time. The first hospital fete - the Festival of Flowers (an abundance of flowers in bloom at the hospital at fete time).

1965 Integration of male and female wards commenced, number of admissions decreases. Pressure on beds began to decrease. Large wards began to reduce number of beds.

1970 Patient numbers declining. Early 1970s, the 'boys' from Peat & Milson Islands started being transferred to Morisset.

1972 Morisset Hospital grounds proclaimed as a Wildlife Refuge.

1974 'The Denby', launch used for taking patients out on the lake, was transferred to Peat Island. The end of the patient work gangs and outdoor male nurses.

1985 Major changes with division of the hospital in to two distinct & separate entities - Psychiatric Services and Developmental Disability. Ward 18 closed, Ward 16 closed, Ward 19 closed & Ward 20 closed.

1991 Ward 21 'The Crim' closed. Wards 19 & 20 demolished.

1992 Ward 9 closed. Ward 11 patients moved in to old doctors & paramedical staff cottages.
A new state of the art forensic psychiatry security unit built on site of the demolished wards 19 & 20.

2002 On the 9th of May 2002, the historic hospital lantern restoration was completed at a cost of $5,115. The search for an appropriate community setting for display purposes commenced.

2004 Monday 15th November, official opening of the new Morisset Multipurpose Centre.
2005 October MHHS showcases manufactured, lantern & hospital memorabilia installed in Morisset Multipurpose Centre.
2006 October - new display installed in Multipurpose Centre (MHHS, 2009).
Current use: health services
Former use: Aboriginal land, hospital

History

Historical notes: Morisset is named after James Thomas Morisset (1780-1852) who entered the army as an ensign in the 80th regiment in 1798, served in Egypt and India and in 1805 purchased a captaincy in the 48th regiment. He fought in the Peninuslar War and was wounded at Albuera. He accompanied his regiment to New South Wales in 1817, relieved Captain James Wallis as commandant in Newcastle and was made a magistrate. Morisset was promoted to Major in 1819. He returned to England in 1825, was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1826 and that year married Emily Vaux at Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. Morisset arrived in Sydney in the 'Harmony' in September 1827.

In February 1829 he was appointed commondant of Norfolk Island. During his tenure, the convicts made several attempts at mutiny and he acquired a reputation as a stern disciplinarian. In 1834 Morisset sold his commission in the army, declaring his intention to resign and settle in New South Wales and sought appointment to any available civil office. Because of a violent nervous disorder he was given a year's leave in Sydney on half-pay.

Upon resignation he bought a farm at Winburndale Brook, near Bathurst. He was appointed Police Magistrate and in 1841 made commissioner of the Court of Requests. He lost heavily in the crash of 1842 and was forced to sell his property and devote part of his salary to pay off his debts. He continued in his post until dying in 1852, aged 72. He is buried in the old Kelso church yard east of Bathurst. His widow Emily died in 1892 at North Sydney. They had five sons and six daughters. Morisset also had a son by Joanna Deasey. One son, Edric Norfolk Vaux Morisset, became commandant of native police in Queensland and superintendent of police at Bathurst, Maitland and Goulburn (Wheeldon, 2015, 3).

According to Shireav, psychiatry in NSW can be divided into four periods of varying administrative policy and treatment (Shireav, 1979:6).

1788 to 1839 - The Primitive Era. (The Beginnings)

1839 to 1860 - The Moral Treatment Era. (The Romantic)

1860 to 1945 - The Physical Treatment Era. (The Classical)

1945 to the present day - The Modern Era. (The Revolution in Therapy)

The classical and revolution in therapy were the periods in the history of Morisset Hospital.

25 Aug.1900 a Govt. Gazette proclaimed 1300 acres on shores of Lake Macquarie reserved for an Asylum for the Insane (Suters et al, 1993). In 1901 The "Insanity Act" provided approval for construction of the Morisset Asylum for the Insane.

In 1906 a staff of 3 male attendants and 6 patients lived side by side on the site in tents, while clearing and construction commenced. The first thing constructed was a jetty, then a dam. The first temporary ward was completed. Building material was transported across the lake by barge.

In 1907 the first Manager, George Edwards was appointed. He supervised clearing the land and preparing the site. Arthur John Wilson was transferred from Kenmore Mental Hospital in Goulburn to supervise construction of roadways to enable access for building. One of the roads he constructed, known as 'The Avenue' was planted with yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora) and turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera) trees. Further plantings occurred in later years. 'The Avenue' is the main road leading in to the township of Morisset.

1908 On the 17th August a "Newcastle and Miners Advocate" article described construction of Ward 1. A 16th November 1908 Newcastle and Miners Advocate article reports that construction of the Recreation Hall was commenced.

1909 The first ward was finished and the first patients arrived on the 9th May 1909. There were 78 male patients. Ward 1 opened on the 6th September. Construction of further buildings was well under way.

1910 157 male patients. Temporary calico dormitories were erected. These buildings consisted of a wooden frame, calico side panels, wooden floors and a canvas fly over the whole building. The manager's residence was constructed.

1911 The Cricket oval, poultry yards & gardens were completed.

1912 243 male patients were on site, mostly housed in the Calico Wards. The first Medical Officer, Dr Samson, commenced duty. Prior to this medical services were provided by a doctor from Gosford, one day a week.

1913 The hospital had a patient population of 288.

1914 The building programme was largely suspended due to the outbreak of World War 1. The patient population had increased to 375. The hospital fishing fleet was assembled.

1915 Patients & staff went out each Thursday in the hospital fishing fleet and provided fish for the traditional Friday luncheon.

1916 The main store built, remains standing (Jan 2006)

1918 the population was 484 male patients, 93 in excess of the accommodation.

1919 13th August the Victory Ball was held in the Recreation Hall to celebrate the end of World War 1.

1920 A new ward opened - population rose to 512, all male. Overcrowding was very bad. The theatrical stage, which slopes from back to front, was added to the Recreation Hall

1930 Land was set aside at Morisset for the establishment of a hospital for the Criminally Insane. This was the first prison specifially set up for the criminally insane.

1933 672 patients now at Morisset. The ward for the Criminally Insane was now commenced.

1934 The first female patients and nursing staff arrived in March.

1936 Only tank or dam water was available at the hospital.

1938 New Male Refractory wards were opened.

1939 World War 2 broke out & a lack of funds held up all construction work. Serious drought resulted in acute water shortage at Morisset. An emergency service from Pourmalong Creek was constructed.

1957 The Chapel was officially opened and dedicated on the 24th August. The hospital was renowned for it's flock of peacocks wandering about the grounds.

1960 Patient population reached 1403.

The number of patients grew to 1490 in 1960. In 1954 The Hospital Chapel foundation stone was laid (Suters et al, 1993).


1962 The new dairy was used for the first time on the 12th July 1962. The first hospital fete - the Festival of Flowers (an abundance of flowers in bloom at the hospital at fete time).

1963 Patient Population was reported as 1490.

1965 Integration of male and female wards commenced, number of admissions decreases, & rise in the discharge rate. Pressure on hospital beds began to decrease. Large wards began to reduce the number of beds.

1970 Patient numbers were declining due to more patients being eligible for disability pensions, more effective medications, treatment programs, and a change in community attitudes.
Early 1970s, the 'boys' from Peat & Milson Islands started being transferred to Morisset.

1972 Morisset Hospital grounds were proclaimed as a Wildlife Refuge.

1974 'The Denby', launch used for taking patients out on the lake, was transferred to Peat Island. The end of the patient work gangs and outdoor male nurses.

1985 The special community that was Morisset Hospital underwent major changes with the division of the hospital in to two distinct & separate entities - Psychiatric Services and Developmental Disability. Ward 18 closed, Ward 16 closed, Ward 19 closed & Ward 20 closed.

1991 Ward 21 'The Crim' closed. Wards 19 & 20 demolished.

1992 Ward 9 closed. Ward 11 patients moved in to old doctors & paramedical staff cottages. A new state of the art forensic psychiatry security unit is built on the site of the demolished wards 19 & 20.

1997 Hospital Reunion organised and the Morisset Hospital Historical Society was established by a group of people interested in preserving the heritage of Morisset Hospital. The aim of the society is to collect and preserve the heritage of Morisset Hospital.

2000 August - "A Private World on a Nameless Bay: a history of Morisset Hospital" published by MHHS.

2002 On the 9th of May 2002, exactly 93 years since the formal admission of the first patients the historic hospital lantern restoration was completed at a cost of $5,115. The search for an appropriate community setting for display purposes commenced.

2004 Monday 15th November, official opening of the new Morisset Multipurpose Centre.

2005 October showcases manufactured, lantern & hospital memorabilia installed in Morisset Multipurpose Centre at a cost of $3,000. MHHS web site established.

2006 October - new display installed in Multipurpose Centre.

2007 October New display installed in Multipurpose Centre (MHHS website, accessed 23/1/09).

People have been visiting Morisset Hospital to see kangaroos for over 100 years. It's where locals take their visitors.
Because of the growth of tourism and social media posts advising Morisset is the best and cheapest way to see kangaroos in Australia, the number of visitors is growing exponentially to the detriment of all. There are Sydney-based tour operators bringing busloads of people, local shuttle buses provide a transfer service from and to Morisset station, other tourists walk in. Taxis and hire cars are also used as transport. Visitors arrive, unaware the site is primarily a mental healthcare facility and a residence for people with developmental disabilities (Gavenlock, 2018).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans Operating public hospitals-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans Operating mental health facilities-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in health care-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administering a public health system-
7. Governing-Governing Welfare-Activities and process associated with the provision of social services by the state or philanthropic organisations Providing hospital facilities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Joining together to study and appreciate local history-

Recommended management:

37 (of 745) trees have been assessed as having high proprity (severe structural faults, risk of injury) needing immediate action. 22 trees require removal and 15 substantial pruning, within 6 months (Treeology, 5/2014). 75 trees were assessed as moderate priority for action, posing risk of injury or damage but not as urgent as the high priority trees. Actions on these could be staged over several financial years. 80 were considered of low priority posing a low risk of injury or damage. Actions should be implemented within a 5 year period or where funds allow (Treeology P/L, 5/2014).

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0082702 Apr 99   
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGavenlock, Chris2018Letter to the Editor: 'Icons have attracted visitors for 100 years'
WrittenKeene, Neil2016'Mad way to treat heritage'
WrittenMorisset Hospital Historical Society Website: Morisset Hospital Historical Society View detail
WrittenNSW Public Works Department1988Morisset Hospital - Schedule 5 Hospitals - Existing Buildings Survey
WrittenTreeology P/L (John Atkins consulting arborist), Ref.No.: 01-0113, 5/5/20142014Tree Management Plan - Morisset Hospital
WrittenWheeldon, Paul2015(Morisset section, in) 'Waterloo - those who left their mark on Australia - Part 2' View detail

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5000867
File number: EF14/4829; H08/00176/1


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