First listed as a Government Institution in June 1884 (1), the Macquarie Street Asylum, Parramatta was formerly known as The Erysipelas Hospital, and "gradually merged into an Asylum for the Infirm and Destitute". (2) The premises had originally been built as stables and barracks for convicts, before being converted into a Military Hospital in 1843. After the Military Hospital closed in 1851, the premises were utilised by The Erysipelas Hospital. (3)
Although functioning primarily as an asylum for infirm and destitute men from 1884, wards for infectious conditions were still maintained and used for cases refused admission to Sydney Hospital, the Macquarie Street Asylum reputed to be "one Hospital whose doors are open to cases of all kinds of disease." (4) The Government Asylums generally included medical wards, and Macquarie Street became the centre for treatment of serious eye conditions, with 342 ophthalmic cases treated at Macquarie Street in 1893. (5) After administrative responsibility for Government Asylums transferred from the Department of Charitable Institutions to Public Health in 1913, Macquarie Street Asylum became known as the State Hospital and Asylum for the Blind and Men of Defective Sight and Senility, Macquarie Street, Parramatta. (6)
During 1926 admissions to the Hospital numbered 703, with 173 remaining resident at the end of the year. Residents of Government Asylums who were able to work were expected to contribute towards a measure of self-sufficiency, at Macquarie Street residents made clothing and bedding, carried out repairs to the building, and assisted in the Bakery which supplied bread and pastries to all the State Hospitals. (7)
In January 1935 the premises at Macquarie Street was found to be in an unsatisfactory condition, and too old for reconstruction. Patients were transferred to Lidcombe State Hospital, and Macquarie Street was closed on 13 February 1935, with the building demolished in July and August of that year. (8)
1. NSW Government Blue Book 1884, p.42.
2. Government Asylums for the Infirm and Destitute, Report for 1884, in Votes and Proceedings 1885, Vol. 2, p.611 - (additional note, erysipelas is a medical term for an acute inflammation of the skin, usually on the face, caused by infection from streptococcus bacteria).
3. Health Dept, Histories of various NSW Government Hospitals 1879-1980, Folder for Parramatta Asylums, SRNSW Ref: [10/50590].
4. Government Asylums for the Infirm and Destitute, Report for 1884, op. cit.
5. Annual Report from the Director of Government Asylums and Boarding-Out Officer on the Department of Charitable Institutions, for the year ended 31 August 1894, Votes and Proceedings 1894-95, Vol. 5, p.449.
6. Report of the Director-General of Public Health for the year ended 31 December 1913, in Parliamentary Papers 1914-15, Vol. 4, p.340.
7. Report upon the State Hospitals under the control of the Director-General of Public Health, Report for the year 1926, in Parliamentary Papers 1927,Vol 2, p.951.
8. Health Dept, Histories of various NSW Government Hospitals 1879-1980, Folder for Parramatta Asylums, op. cit.