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Tasmania - Organisation

Hospital for the Insane, New Norfolk (1859 - 1915)

  • The original Barracks at the Insane Asylum

    The original Barracks at the Insane Asylum, 2009, courtesy of Wikipedia.


The Hospital for the Insane replaced the Lunatic Asylum in 1859. It remained on the same site. In 1937, the Mental Diseases Hospital replaced it.


The Gentleman's Cottage, which in 1941, became an institution for men and boys with intellectual disabilities, was built in 1859.

The Ladies Cottage, which later became 'J' Ward, opened in 1868. In later years, J Ward became a maximum security ward for disabled adult women and occasionally held girls with 'behaviour problems'. As the name implies, the Ladies Cottage was for patients from a privileged social class. It was a one storey building enclosed by walls and fences and at some distance from the original Barracks. It had a 'ha ha' wall along the front so that the patients could see the gardens. A 'ha ha' wall was a deep trench that kept patients in while allowing them to see out. They were also used at the Royal Derwent Hospital, built in 1968. In 1891, a second storey was added to the Ladies Cottage.

Between 1886 and 1888, an 'idiots' asylum, Olga or Ward O was built. Later it became the 'Male Idiots' Cottage'. In 1904, it became a women's hospital.

'La Maison' in Humphrey Street, formerly a doctor's residence, was purchased in 1891. Initially it was a convalescent home for women. Later, at different times, it became the Mental Defectives Home and the Boys' Cottage.


1859 - 1915
Location - The Hospital for the Insane was on Humphrey Street, New Norfolk. Location: New Norfolk



  • Brown, Joan C., 'Poverty is not a crime': the development of social services in Tasmania, 1803-1900, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Hobart, 1972, 192 pp. Details
  • Gowlland, RW, Troubled asylum: the history of the Invalid Barracks, New Norfolk Colonial Hospital, New Norfolk Madhouse, New Norfolk Her Majesty's Lunatic Asylum, New Norfolk Mental Diseases Hospital, New Norfolk Lachlan Park, New Norfolk Royal Derwent Hospital, Self publication, New Norfolk, 1996. Details

Online Resources


The original Barracks at the Insane Asylum
The original Barracks at the Insane Asylum


Prepared by: Caroline Evans