The Adelaide Lunatic Asylum was opened by the government on North Terrace Adelaide in 1852. It replaced the temporary Colonial Lunatic Asylum at Parkside as an institution for the accommodation of people suffering from mental illness. People with intellectual disabilities, including children, were incarcerated at the Asylum. In 1898 some children from the Asylum were transferred to the new Minda Home for Weak-minded Children. The Adelaide Asylum continued to operate until 1902 when all patients were moved to the Parkside Lunatic Asylum.
The Adelaide Lunatic Asylum was opened by the Colonial Government in 1852 and replaced the temporary Colonial Lunatic Asylum at Parkside. Despite some public outcry the new Asylum was situated on North Terrace, in Adelaide, adjacent to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, overlooking what was to become the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. The operation and over-site of the Asylum was the responsibility of the Colonial Surgeon.
The Asylum was not only used to incarcerate people suffering from mental illness, but also people with intellectual disabilities and medical conditions like epilepsy. Children were amongst those incarcerated at the Asylum.
The first 13 patients were transferred from the Colonial Lunatic Asylum to the North Terrace Asylum in March of 1852.
Initially the new Asylum was used for both those considered to be insane and the destitute. The destitute poor were housed on the first floor of the building and the Asylum patients were limited to the ground floor. This dual use of the building continued until August 1853 and meant that any overflow of mentally ill patients were sent to the Adelaide Gaol. Private patients were sometimes given precedence at the Asylum which again led to others being accommodated at the Gaol.
In 1856 new accommodation was made available for the Asylum at the old Adelaide Hospital building when the new Hospital opened. However, by 1859 the old Hospital building was being used to house destitute children.
By 1862 171 patients were being accommodated at the Asylum. In 1865 new quarters for the Resident Medical Officer were built making more rooms in the main building available for patients. In 1866 a new women's dormitory was also constructed.
In 1870 a new purpose built Asylum opened at Parkside in the same area where the original Colonial Lunatic Asylum had been located. Fifty male patients from the Adelaide Lunatic Asylum were moved to the new facility immediately. Despite this movement of patients overcrowding continued to be a problem at the Adelaide Asylum. In 1898 the Minda Home for Weak-minded Children was opened and some of the children from both the Asylums at North Terrace, Adelaide, and Parkside were transferred to the new government assisted facility.
The Adelaide Asylum continued to operate until 1902 when all patients were moved to the Parkside Lunatic Asylum. The building was taken over by the Royal Adelaide Hospital and became an infectious diseases ward. The building was demolished in 1938.
1846 - 1852 Colonial Lunatic Asylum
1852 - 1902 Adelaide Lunatic Asylum
Sources used to compile this entry: 'THE LUNATIC ASYLUM', South Australian Register (Adelaide, South Australia), 3 March 1871, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39248739; 'Lunatic Asylum', in History of Disability in South Australia, Disability Information and Resource Centre Inc, 2007, http://web.archive.org/web/20140213061049/http://history.dircsa.org.au/1800-1899/lunatic-asylum/; Goldney, Bob, Glenside Hospital: an historical perspective including its role in the management of depression, University of Adelaide, 26 February 2009; Piddock, Susan, A Space of Their Own: The Archaeology of Nineteenth Century Lunatic Asylums in Britain, South Australia and Tasmania, Springer, New York; London, 2007; State Records of South Australia, 'Agency Details GA1980 Parkside Lunatic Asylum, later Parkside Mental Hospital, later Glenside Hospital', in State Records of South Australia, ArchivesSearch, http://archives.sa.gov.au.
Prepared by: Gary George
Created: 15 April 2014, Last modified: 6 November 2018