Identity area

Reference code

AU WA S4397




  • 1909-01-01 - (Creation)
  • 1870-02-02 - 1944-01-01 (Accumulation)

Level of description




Bundles of papers


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 A660 - FREMANTLE ASYLUM (1865-07-01 - 1909-12-31)

Administrative history

The first mentally ill patients in Western Australia were cared for in temporary accommodation, including the wreck of the Marquis of Anglesey, the Fremantle Round House and in the Colonial Hospital. When convict transportation began in 1850, the numbers of people with mental illnesses in the colony began to increase. Official care began with the transfer of ten convicts from Fremantle Gaol to a new asylum located in Scots warehouse in November 1857.

Fremantle Asylum was completed and occupied in July 1865 and accommodated a wide range of patients. Initially most were male convicts, but gradually more patients were admitted from the civilian population. Common causes of admission were sunstroke, sexually transmitted diseases, alcoholism, delirium and diseases of old age. Patients could be admitted from anywhere in the colony. After proclamation of the Lunacy Act 1871, patients could be admitted by certification.

The Asylum was under the direction of a Surgeon Superintendent, and was administered jointly by the Imperial and colonial governments until 1886 when control was transferred to the colonial government. After the 1890's gold rushes, the Asylum became drastically overcrowded, forcing a reorganisation of facilities (including the purchase of Whitby Falls as an asylum farm in 1897) and plans for a much larger institution. Fremantle Lunatic Asylum was no longer used after 1909 once all patients had been transferred to the new Claremont Hospital for the Insane.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Admission forms from Fremantle Asylum and Claremont Mental Hospital which may contain patient personal details, medical certificates outlining grounds for admission, property inventories, death notices and other related material.


System of arrangement


Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open access, except items identified as restricted for 100 years

Conditions governing access (legacy)

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Related units of description

Related units of description

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Place access points

Description control area

Level of detail




Archivist's note

Registered by Nicole Thompson

Accession area