Earlsferry was established as a Home for ten 'mentally handicapped girls' who were transferred from the Claremont Mental Hospital. Earlsferry, with Fairholme, made up the Nathaniel Harper Homes owned and run by the government of Western Australia. In 1988, ownership passed to the Authority for Intellectually Handicapped Persons. In April 1989, when Earlsferry was damaged by a fire due to 'misadventure', residents were relocated and the property sold. Earlsferry continues as a private home.
Earlsferry was one of two Nathaniel Harper Homes owned and run by the government of Western Australia. It was opened by the Minister for Health, Dame Florence Cardell Oliver, on 27 September 1952.
Nathaniel Harper, whose child had Down Syndrome, donated money to the Mental Hospitals Department to stimulate what has been called a 'modest beginning of a new era in service provision' by the State for children with intellectual disabilities. Nathaniel Harper Homes were the 'first public sector residential facility' since the Claremont Mental Hospital began in 1903. Nathaniel Harper Homes were run by nursing staff, with visits from Claremont Mental Hospital psychologists. The Education Department set up a special school for children at the Nathaniel Harper Homes.
The Nathaniel Harper Homes were also involved in 'industrial rehabilitation', which was a type of 'sheltered workshop' employment. The young people and adults at Nathaniel Harper Homes took some of the overflow work from the industrial rehabilitation workshop at the Claremont Mental Hospital. They made glass pipettes and cleaned and re-assembled bottle-tops.
When the government purchased Earslferry, a number of renovations were made. These included adding a laundry, removing the outhouses and building a cottage for the Matron in what had been the orchard. Security wire mesh fences were put up around the boundary, a large tree and rose beds were removed and the driveway was bitumised and kerbed.
By the 1980s, Fairholme and Earlsferry were better known as separate hostels rather than collectively as the Nathaniel Harper Homes.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Mental Home Renovations', The Daily News, 8 September 1950, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article84485571; 'Homes mean opportunity for retarded children', Sunday Times, 28 September 1952, p. 21, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60099143; 'Subnormal children get homes', The West Australian, 29 September 1952, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49055185; Ellis, A.S., Eloquent Testimony : the Story of the Mental Health Services in Western Australia, 1830-1975, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, Western Australia, 1984; Gillgren, Christina, 'Once a Defective, always a Defective: Public Sector Residential Care 1900-1965', in Errol Cocks (ed.), Under blue skies : the social construction of intellectual disability in Western Australia, Centre for Disability Research and Development, Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, 1996, pp. 53-91; Heritage Council of Western Australia, 'Earlsferry', in inHerit, Western Australia State Heritage Office, Government of Western Australia, 8 February 2015, http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/public/p/128. p.6.; Stella, Leonie, 'Normalisation and Beyond: Public Sector Residential Care 1965-1990', in Errol Cocks (ed.), Under blue skies : the social construction of intellectual disability in Western Australia, Centre for Disability Research and Development, Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, 1996, pp. 92-136. p.110..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 23 April 2013, Last modified: 23 June 2014