Claremont Mental Hospital

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Claremont Mental Hospital
Established 1901
Opened 1903
Closed 1972
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Pavilion Plan
Architect(s) Albert Ernest (Paddy) Clare
Location Claremont, NSW
Alternate Names
  • Claremont Hospital for the Insane
  • Claremont Hospital


In 1901, a Parliamentary Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the mental health system in Western Australia. The Committee found that Fremantle Asylum was inadequate in many respects and recommended it be closed. As a result, a new mental health facility in Claremont - Claremont Hospital for the Insane - was established. In 1903, Government Reserve H8636 (394 acres) was set aside for this purpose. By August 1903, temporary buildings had been established on the site and some initial patients transferred. Female patients remained at the Fremantle Asylum until 1908, after which they were transferred to Claremont.

Claremont was on a hill, surrounded by farm land and fresh air but was designed with large dormitory wards, barred windows, impersonal, communal dining and bathing facilities and its 'inmates' were dressed in government-issue poor quality clothing. The more disturbing the disability, the deeper the person was housed in the institution. Nearest to the administration block was the 'quiet and chronic' ward. Then came the 'recent and acute' patients, followed by the 'sick and infirm'. Next were the 'epileptics' and furtherest away were the 'violent and noisy'. There was a padded single room on each floor.

Although Claremont was set up with a medical model of treatment for the 'disease' of insanity, the prevalent approach to intellectual disabilities was that they were hereditary and incurable. There were some brief early periods where this belief was challenged. A Montessori school for children was established at Claremont in 1919 but closed in 1921, possibly due to lack of funds.

Patients were admitted for a wide range of physical as well as mental disorders, including developmental disability, old age, alcoholism and serious infectious diseases that caused delirium. War veterans with psychiatric injuries were also housed in Claremont until separate facilities were built, including Stromness (1918-1926) and Lemnos Hospitals (1926-1995).

The hospital operated a small farm within its premises and registers of herds and farm produce are included in the records held by the State Records Office.

In 1933 the Hospital’s name was changed to Claremont Mental Hospital, and then in 1967 to Claremont Hospital. In 1972, the Hospital was closed and divided into two separate campuses: Swanbourne Hospital for psychogeriatric patients and adults with developmental disabilities, and Graylands Hospital for acute psychiatric patients.