Thesis sheds national spotlight on history of former James Fletcher Hospital Site

Coloured engraving of Christ Church Newcastle and surrounds circa 1820s
Coloured engraving of Christ Church Newcastle and surrounds circa 1820s

Dr Ann Hardy’s thesis  “. . . here is an Asylum open . . .” Constructing a Culture of Government Care in Australia 1801 – 2014″ on the national significance of the former James Fletcher Hospital site is now available free of charge on the University’s NOVA database. It explores the earliest permanent settlement at Coal River, NSW, the Newcastle Government Domain.

The Newcastle Government Domain was was the site of Government House, early convict administration, military barracks, then Girl’s Industrial School and Reformatory and finally as a ‘lunatic asylum’. Newcastle Government Domain was a site of penal administration assisted in the strengthening of Government and private enterprise, particularly related to coal. The Domain was a place from which labour was administered and where officials were involved in artistic pursuits alongside convicts.

The planting of an outpost at Newcastle was motivated by coal and promised to produce a commodity that could be exported offering some return on British investment in its convict colony. Newcastle coal provided energy for local manufacturing and steel-making in the twentieth century, for transport, industry and electricity generation in other Australian cities and now the city exports more coal than any other port in the world. Coal mining has significantly contributed to the cultural and social fabric of Australian society.

This research is a case study of the Domain, exploring the diverse strands of use and linking this history with contemporary heritage conservation issues.

Dr Ann Hardy’s Thesis can now be downloaded in full here: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/1045262


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