Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital

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Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital
Established 1906
Opened 1907
Closed 1999
Current Status Closed
Building Style Pavilion Plan
Architect(s) S.E. Bindley
Location Parkville, VIC
Architecture Style Queen Anne style
Alternate Names


The Former Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital (Hospital for the Insane) was constructed initially between 1906 and 1913 in the pavilion form of hospital design. The architect SE Bindley of the Victorian Public Works Department used the Federation Domestic Queen Anne style. The surviving buildings include the Male and Female Acute Wards (1907-09), Male and Female Convalescent Wards (1907-09), Dining Room/Recreation Hall and Kitchen (1907-09), Female Attendants Block (1907-09), Female Workers Block (1907-09), Male Attendants' Block (1907-09), Male Workers Block (1913), Pathology/Mortuary Block (1909), the Workshop (1909-10), the Paint Store/Morgue (c.1920) and the remaining connecting walkways. The parkland setting of the hospital, the remains of the former airing courts, the rear roadway and significant trees and plantings are important as part of the site's history. The hospital is the earliest example, though significantly altered, of a hospital for the insane as distinct from a lunatic asylum, in Victoria. The alteration of the Lunacy Act in 1911 made possible a further change from Hospital for the Insane to Mental Diseases Hospital, allowing for the housing of (chronic) working patients apart from the acute cases. Working patients worked unpaid on the farm and in the laundry, as well as doing other necessary tasks around the hospital.

The Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital was part of an integrated system of psychiatric treatment introduced under the first Inspector General of the Insane in Victoria, Dr Ernest Jones in the early years of the twentieth century. It was the first psychiatric hospital to be established following the introduction of the Lunacy Act of 1903 and was intended for the treatment of patients with transient and recoverable disorders. The Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital site does not now include the Receiving House building (1905-06) which is located further to the east within Royal Park. The Hospital consisting of Receiving House and Acute Wards was part of a wave of reform which emphasized early diagnosis and swift hospital treatment for mentally ill patients.

During the Second World War, part of Royal Park was temporarily set aside as an American army camp (Camp Pell) and it was here that the notorious Brownout Strangler was arrested. The sentry boxes are still standing and the Americans used the playing fields on the far side of the railway line for baseball and other sports. In 1999 the successful bid for the 2006 Commonwealth Games includes an Athletes Village on the site of the former Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital site in Parkville.