Stockton Mental Hospital was opened in 1917 in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Prior to that it was known as Stockton Hospital for the Insane. It is not clear exactly when children began to be admitted but from 1937 the idea of new wards or buildings especially for children within the hospital was reported. Separate self-contained wards were built for 200 girls in 1941 and included their own operating theatre, dental clinic and laundry. By 1970 the hospital was focused on treating and providing services to children with intellectual disabilities. Stockton Mental Hospital closed in 1989 and became the Stockton Centre, which closed in 2020.
Stockton Mental Hospital was established in 1917 in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. It is not clear when the first children were admitted to the hospital but newspaper reports show that in 1937 tenders were being called for new buildings for 'defective' children at the Hospital.
In 1941 it was reported in The Newcastle Sun that 50 girls were being trained to do much of the work at the hospital and that special attention had been paid to their needs in the design of the new girl-only wards.
The Stockton Mental Hospital began to hold concerts from 1943 where girls who were in occupational therapy classes performed and displayed their handicraft, including toys they made for younger children also at the hospital.
By mid 1956, Stockton was primarily an admitting hospital for female adult and juvenile patients who were considered "congenital defectives".
According to the State Records Authority of New South Wales, by the early 1970s, the facility was known as Stockton Hospital, and was moving towards "the objective of providing treatment and training for mentally retarded patients under the age of 16 years". It was also becoming more involved with community services. In February 1973 a community services clinic was commenced offering services to children and their parents in the Newcastle and Hunter Region.
In 1989 responsibility for the Hospital was transferred from the Health Department to the Department of Family and Community Services and the name of the institution was changed to the Stockton Centre. The Stockton Centre closed in 2020.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Stockton Mental Hospital', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 3 April 1937, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133543735; 'North Stockton Mental Hospital for Children', The Newcastle Sun, 6 May 1941, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167439888; 'Stockton Hospital Concert', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 11 December 1943, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133416328; 'Mental Health Facilities Guide', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016, https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/archives/collections-and-research/guides-and-indexes/mental-health-facilities-guide; 'Stockton Centre', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016, https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/6363.
Prepared by: Nicola Laurent
Created: 18 June 2015, Last modified: 28 March 2022