Demolition of Seacliff Mental Hospital
This Album contains photographs of the demolition of the Seacliff main hospital buildings in about 1960. Cherry Farm Hospital, situated near Waikouaiti, was opened in 1952 and progressively replaced Seacliff Mental Hospital.
With the abolition of the provincial government in 1877, the central government backed plans to build a farm asylum at Seacliff. Seacliff is situated between Blueskin Bay and Karitane on the eastern coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Seacliff is about 20 miles north of the city of Dunedin, and near the town of Palmerston.
The architect of the Seacliff Lunatic Asylum was Robert Arthur Lawson and by 1884 all the patients from the Dunedin Asylum were accommodated at the Seacliff site. The Seacliff Lunatic Asylum was built in the 'Scottish baronial style' similar to the other buildings designed Lawson had designed, for example First Church in Dunedin. Seacliff was surrounded by 900 acres of farm land.
However by 1887, the building began to collapse as the result of a landslide. This prompted a government inquiry in 1888 and Robert Arthur Lawson was considered to be responsible for the structural defects. The Report of the Commission of Inquiry is published in the Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives of New Zealand (AJHR 1888 H7).
The Album on Buildings and Grounds contains a letter written by Truby King in 1889 to the Inspector General of Asylums in Wellington, describing the condition of the Seacliff buildings and the structural damage caused by the unstable geology of the site.
Also the Album for Buildings and Grounds contains images of the Floor Plans which give some idea of the size of the main hospital buildings and has statistics on patient numbers in 1903.
The site of Seacliff Mental Hospital is now a public reserve, called the Truby King Recreation Reserve, which is managed by the Dunedin City Council.
Wikipedia has articles on Seacliff Lunatic Asylum,
Robert Arthur Lawson and Sir Frederic Truby King or see the biographical essays for Truby King and Robert Arthur Lawson from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.
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