Identity area

Reference code

AU WA S4864




  • 1903-08-01-1972-12-31 (Creation)

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Various - see descriptive note


Context area

Name of creator

AU WA A543 - CLAREMONT MENTAL HOSPITAL (1903-08-01 - 1972)

Administrative history

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.

The Claremont facility was Western Australia’s principal mental hospital until its closure in 1972.

It housed the majority of the State’s mental patients, both male and female adults (in separate wings) and children. Admission was by certification under the Lunacy Act 1903 or the Inebriates Act 1912, although ‘voluntary boarders’ were also admitted for limited periods of time. In the absence of community facilities, most patients were long-term.

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.

Name of creator

AU WA A1223 - WHITBY FALLS HOSPITAL (1897-01-01 - 1972-01-01)

Administrative history

A one thousand acre property for Whitby Falls Hospital was purchased from a William Paterson by the State government in 1897 for the sum of 7, 000 pounds. Fremantle Asylum by this time had become over-crowded and it was decided to move some psychiatric patients to Whitby Falls. The farmhouse on the property was renovated to accomodate 50 patients and the first 12 patients were placed there on 12 July 1897.

Despite a proclamation on 12 September 1900 declaring Whitby Falls an asylum, it was eventually deemed too remote a location and a new asylum was built at Claremont instead.

Whitby Falls Hospital became an auxiliary to Claremont Hospital and a cooperative dairy farm and cattle breeding program was implemented by the two hospitals.

In 1914, Whitby Falls was gazetted a home for male alcoholics under the Inebriates Act 1912. The Hospital reverted again to take psychiatric patients from Claremont in 1918.

Due to the small number of patients at Whitby Falls Hospital, the Under Secretary declared in 1932 that "as an institution Whitby hardly justified it's existence (financially)" and it was declared "first and foremost a farm". Whitby's agricultural program was used as occupational therapy and rehabilitation for patients placed there but it also became a profitable operation that included poultry, dairy, vegetable, orchard, piggery and beef production.

In 1958, the government built a new hospital on the grounds of Whitby Falls. The original farmhouse was left unused until demolition in 1971.

In 1972, Claremont Hospital was divided into Graylands Hospital and Swanbourne Hospital. Whitby Falls became an annexe to Graylands and was de-gazetted from being an approved hospital to a hostel. The Armadale Health Service supplied psychiatric and allied health services to the hostel from the 1980's.

(Administrative history reference: Mental Hospitals Department, "Whitby Falls Mental Hospital, Control and Development of", file 23/1964, State Records Office of WA, consignment 3614).

Archival history

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Records of the dairy farm operated at the Claremont Mental Hospital and Whitby Falls Hospital including information on herds, production, and sales.


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