Australian National Heritage List

The Parramatta Female Factory has been submitted for the National Heritage List. We await the Australian Federal Government decision.
 
To see the summary for this click on this link:
 
 
 
National Heritage List Application Text
 

The National Heritage List is a record of places in the Australian jurisdiction that have outstanding natural, Indigenous or historic heritage values for the nation. These places they are protected by federal law under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Nominating a place for the National Heritage List means identifying its national heritage values on this form and providing supporting evidence. If you need help in filling out this form, contact (02) 6274 2149.

Q1. What is the name of the place?  

Former Female Factory, Parramatta (1818-1849), also known as Parramatta House of Correction (1818-1849), Parramatta Female Factory(1818-1849), Parramatta Lunatic Asylum (1849-1878), Parramatta Hospital for the Insane (1878-1960), Parramatta Psychiatric Centre (1962-1982) and since 1982, part of the Cumberland Hospital.


Q2. TIP



Give the street address, or, if remote, describe where it is in relation to the nearest town. Include its area and boundaries. Attach a map with the location and boundaries of the place clearly marked. See the Nomination Notes for map requirements.
 

Q2a. Where is the place? Address/location:

Fleet Street, near corner Factory Road, North Parramatta, NSW 2150

Now part of the “East Campus” of Cumberland Hospital

Latitude/Longitude Lat:150.99617471 Long:-33.80172803

 

Q2b. Boundary:

The buildings and architectural elements and spaces within the Female Factory footprint are described in the Cumberland hospital east Campus site map as: Buildings 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112. Also included are a small building not in above key known as the ‘dead room’ and 3 perimeter walls  - wall one surrounding buildings noted as 100 (the wood yard); corner section north of building 109 and bound by 2 adjacent carparks and river road; original 1818 wall between building 101 and the wood yard. This contains all the original fabric of the Female Factory as identified in the Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan of 1992 (see below) with the additional schema in his plan south of the 1818 original wall.

 This curtilage is about a third of, but wholly enclosed within, the NSW SHR curtilage for Cumberland District Hospital group SHR no.802 (part Lot 3 DP 808447).

      Q2c. Type of map you have supplied: Cumberland Hospital East Campus site plan map and Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan       sketch showing location of surviving fabric and significant spaces of the Female Factory.

 

For information on where to obtain details of who owns a place, contact your local government. See the Nomination Notes for ideas.

Q3a. Who owns it? Owner’s name (If more than one owner, attach a list):

NSW Department of Health,  with this site being administered by the Western Sydney Local Health District

Address: 1/11 Hainsworth Street Westmead

 

State: NSW

Postcode:2150

Telephone:98403000

Fax:     98403700

Email:      

Q3b. Is the owner(s) aware of the nomination?

   NO             YES  X  SOME ARE         (Please list): Jennifer Humphries

Jennifer Humphries is the current CEO of the site. We have discussed the site and we have advised that we are applying for National Heritage Listing.


Q4. Who has an interest in the place? This could include the property’s manager, local environment or historical groups, local council, Indigenous people and developers or industry groups. Please provide names and contact details.

Parramatta Female Factory Friends-Parramatta Female Factory Action Group

Contact - President, Gay Hendriksen 0447189137,

Parramatta Historical Society

Family History Societies (interested on a state and national level)

Federal Member - Julie Owens

Retired CFMEU (including Jack Mundey) Contact -  John Koch

CRUMA

Catholic Church Contact - Cardinal Pell

NSW Heritage Council (relevant to State Heritage Register listing of the site)


About the importance of the place

 

the place



 

Q5. What is its significance? How would you tell people that this place has great importance to Australia? For example, why does this place, unlike other similar places, best highlight an outstanding aspect of Australia’s heritage?

The Parramatta Female Factory is the oldest and arguably the most intact Female Factory site in Australia. It is of outstanding heritage value for its historical role in instituting a formal means of housing, disciplining and employing convict women which was copied throughout the Australian penal colonies and elsewhere. It offers historical insights into early colonial public works and industrial enterprises as well as evidencing early colonial approaches to prison reform, women and social structure. It is highly significant because of its association with the lives of convict women, its demonstration of the changing philosophies of punishment and reform as they relate to women and as a place of suffering and inhumane treatment. 

The Parramatta Female Factory site is also historically significant for its association with early farming and one of the earliest land grants in the colony, and for its association with the early industrial enterprise of the government water mill. It has been in continuous institutional use since 1818, first as the Female Factory, then from 1849 as the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum and most recently as the Cumberland Hospital. The surviving collection of buildings, relics and landscapes provides invaluable insights into changing attitudes to welfare, criminal behaviour and mental health over nearly two centuries.

The Parramatta Female Factory has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of its archaeological and research potential to contribute to our understanding of the design and workings of the penal system as it affected women convicts in NSW between 1821 and 1849. Further archaeological investigation of  this site may also make a substantial contribution to knowledge in relation to: industrial production in the early penal colony from the 1790s onwards; living and working conditions in New South Wales from at least 1792 onwards and the study of the treatment of the insane in 19th and 20th century Australia.

The Parramatta Female Factory has outstanding heritage significance for its aesthetic value as a collection of substantial nineteenth century buildings. Although the original 1821 fabric has been vastly altered the site retains significant remnants of the original Georgian layout while providing evidence of a subsequent long sequence of institutional buildings of high architectural and aesthetic significance. The buildings constructed for the Lunatic Asylum between the 1870s and 1910 are outstanding examples of public architecture. Overall the architecture of the precinct demonstrates Victorian, Georgian and Classical Revival notions of authority.

The whole site enjoys an outstanding parkland setting beside the Parramatta River. This reinforces the physical links and historical associations with neighbouring institutional and recreational facilities. These include Parramatta Gaol, Government House, The Norma Parker Centre and Parramatta Park. All of these sites contain buildings listed by the National Trust and the Australian Heritage Commission, making this one of the richest heritage areas in New South Wales.

The Parramatta Female Factory site is considered to be of national significance in the State Heritage Register listing for the Cumberland District Hospital Group and in the Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plans for the site of 1992 and 2010. The comparable Cascades Female Factory site in Hobart, although younger, less influential and arguably less intact than the Parramatta Female Factory, is listed on the National Heritage List and the World Heritage List.
See the Nomination Notes for examples on how criteria might be interpreted.

Q6. Which criteria does it meet? Please try and identify each criterion from the list below applies to the place and explain why it meets that criterion (attach evidence in relation to each criterion claimed to have been met).

The National Heritage criteria for a place are any or all of the following:
 a – the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance in the course, or pattern, of Australia’s natural or cultural history.

The Parramatta Female Factory is the oldest and arguably the most intact Female Factory site in Australia. It is of outstanding heritage value for its historical role in instituting a formal means of housing, disciplining and employing convict women which was copied throughout the Australian penal colonies and elsewhere. It offers historical insights into early colonial public works and industrial enterprises as well as evidencing early colonial approaches to prison reform, women and social structure. It is highly significant because of its association with the lives of convict women, its demonstration of the changing philosophies of punishment and reform as they relate to women and as a place of tremendous suffering and inhumane treatment. 

The Parramatta Female Factory site is also historically significant for its association with early farming and one of the earliest land grants in the colony, and for its association with the industrial enterprise of the government water mill. It has been in continuous institutional use since 1818, first as the Female Factory, then from 1849 as the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum and most recently as the Cumberland Hospital. The surviving collection of buildings, relics and landscapes provides invaluable insight into changing attitudes to welfare, criminal behaviour and mental health, over nearly two centuries.

 b – the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Australia’s natural or cultural history

The Parramatta Female Factory, as one of the earliest purpose-built sites of incarceration and industry surviving from the convict era, has outstanding heritage value for its rarity as the oldest and most intact Female Factory site in Australia. The site offers rare material evidence of the experiences of convict women in Australia. especially considering the context of an almost complete lack of surviving objects and images about them.

  c – the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Australia’s natural or cultural history

 
The Parramatta Female Factory has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of its archaeological and research potential to contribute to our understanding of the design and workings of the penal system as it was affected women convicts in NSW between 1821 and1849.

Further archaeological investigation of this site may also make a substantial contribution to knowledge in relation to: industrial production in the early penal colony from the 1790s onwards; living and working conditions in New South Wales from at least 1792 onwards and

the study of the treatment of the insane in 19th and 20th century Australia.

  d – the place has outstanding  heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of:

i.         a class of Australia’s natural or cultural places or
ii.        a class of Australia’s natural or cultural environments
The Parramatta Female Factory has outstanding heritage value to the nation firstly because of its importance in demonstrating the characteristics of convict female factories, that class of cultural places devoted to the incarceration and disciplining of convict.  It is the original best representative example of a convict Female Factory in Australia. The Cascades Female Factory site in Hobart, although arguably less intact, is listed on the National Heritage List and the World Heritage List.

The site is also of outstanding significance as an early and long-running representative example of an institution for housing people with mental illnesses including, uniquely for NSW, the criminally insane, a function facilitated by the presence of high walling and cell blocks.

The comparable Cascades Female Factory site in Hobart, although younger, less influential and arguably less intact than the Parramatta Female Factory, is listed on the National Heritage List and the World Heritage List.

 e – the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics valued by a community or cultural group
 
The Parramatta Female Factory has outstanding heritage significance for its aesthetic value as a collection of substantial nineteenth century buildings. Although the original 1821 fabric has been vastly altered the site retains significant remnants of the original Georgian layout while providing evidence of a subsequent long sequence of institutional buildings of high architectural and aesthetic significance. The buildings constructed for the Lunatic Asylum between the 1870s and 1910 are outstanding examples of public architecture. Overall the architecture of the precinct demonstrates Victorian, Georgian and Classical Revival notions of authority.

 The whole site enjoys an outstanding parkland setting beside the Parramatta River. This reinforces the physical links and historical associations with neighbouring institutional and recreational facilities. These include Parramatta Gaol, Government House, The Norma Parker Centre and Parramatta Park. All of these sites contain buildings listed by the National Trust and the Australian Heritage Commission, making this one of the richest heritage areas in New South Wales.

 f – the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period

 g – the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons

The Parramatta Female Factory is highly valued by community groups and historians as a place that demonstrates the significant story of convict women.The study of convict women and their children is an emerging area of scholarship.  The rarity of intact historic sites and fabric associated with convict women increases the importance of the Parramatta Female Factory site.

  h – the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in Australia’s natural or cultural history.

The Parramatta Female Factory is of outstanding heritage value to the nation for its special association with the works of numerous people of importance in Australia’s cultural history. These include Governor Lachlan Macquarie, architects Francis Greenway, Walter Liberty Vernon and James Barnet, cleric Samuel Marsden and administrator FN Manning.

  i – the place has outstanding heritage value to the nation because of the place’s importance as part of Indigenous tradition

 
In describing the place, think about its physical aspects and surrounds, its uses by people, aesthetic qualities and any spiritual or cultural associations. You should include photographs and a site map or sketch plan if appropriate. See the Nomination Notes for details.

Q7a. How would you describe the place?       

The former Parramatta Female Factory is positioned near the upper reaches of the Parramatta River in a transitional area between the Wianamatta Shale and Sandstone group soils. The topography is one of alluvial flats (flood plain) dropping away at the river.

The Female Factory is located within the grounds of the Cumberland Hospital (East Campus) in North Parramatta. Part of a larger institutional grouping in a park-like setting by the river, it is adjacent to the Parramatta Correctional Centre (former Parramatta Gaol/ Jail) and the Norma Parker Centre / Kamballa (former Roman Catholic Orphan School and former Parramatta Girls Home).

The main entrance to the hospital and the former Female Factory is from Fleet Street, which forms the eastern boundary of the hospital. It is extensively developed with older buildings which currently accommodate the hospital’s administrative and support services. Several of the buildings within the curtilage are under-utilised or vacant.

The proposed curtilage is approximately 1.9 hectares in area.

Key elements include:
Building 103 (formerly known as Building 23, the Stores Wing, the Assistant Superintendant’s Quarters, Matron’s Office and Dispensary). Designed by Greenway and built 1818-1821, it is constructed of sandstone with various additions in rendered masonry and gabled slate roof. The north eastern end is two storeys with a longer single storey wing to the south-east. The original fabric on the exterior still exists but the reticulated profile was shaved off on all external surfaces of this building with the exception of the existing side gable, appears to be all that survives of the original visible fabric. It is recognisable for the bevelled edges on each block. These edges were chipped back to prevent female convicts climbing the walls. “Internally most ceilings, floors and fittings appear relatively recent. . . The limited extent of the original stonework is indicative of the alteration and rebuilding which has taken place over 170 years”. (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, pp12-13)

 Undated photo of view of courtyard area between Buildings 111 on left and 103 on right, seen from entrance to the Female Factory. The original dormitory wing of the Female Factory pictured here with the clock in its gable, was demolished in the 1880s and much of its stone used to construct Building 101 nearby (with its own clocktower which rehoused the King George IV donated clock).

Building 111(formerly known as Credit Union, Building 2B, Stores, Female Factory Hospital Wing). Designed by Greenway and built 1818-1821, in its present form this building is very similar to Building 103, which it faces, however it retains four dormer windows on its single storey section. It was initially used for a hospital and stores like Building 103, and had a range of subsequent uses including being the Credit Union building from 1992. Both Building 111 and 103 seem to have undergone building changes in the 1870s, probably when the connecting building between them was demolished and an attic storey added to this building. The building underwent the same shaving of stonework as Building 103 but retains aspects of the Greenway reticulated profile  ”The second storey section of the subject building clearly retains its original stonework at the rear of the ground floor. The bevelling of the stone edges to prevent climbing is on full view on this elevation” (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, p14)

 Building 105 (formerly known as Storage 5, 5B, number 8 Male Ward, Sleeping Quarters for Female Prisoners and Turnkey’s Apartment, Third Class Penitentiary Wing). Built in 1825 as an early major addition to the Female Factory, this is a stone building with a gabled iron roof, originally two storeys, now with a skillion iron verandah on three sides. This addition was created to accommodate convict and free women who committed a crime in the Colony and required punishment and confinement and consisted of a walled courtyard with workshops kitchen and dining areas around the perimeter. This building was constructed as sleeping quarters and projected into the yard. A first storey seems to have been added around 1863. The building was later used to house “imbeciles and idiots”. By the 1890s the building was known as a hospital ward, and the verandah appears to have been built about then as well as changes of some circular vents to windows and enlargement of ground floor windows. “Although there have been some alterations over the years the building survives in more or less its original form with a substantial part of its original fabric intact”. Described by Jackson Teece as possibly the most significant building on the site it retains its fine Georgian form and proportioning (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, pp15-16).

 Sectional elevation of Building 105 dating from 1930s (Jackson Teece, 1996)

Building 101 (formerly known as Institute of Psychiatry, Hope Hostel , Ward 1, Building 1A), This building constructed in 1883-5 re-used stone from the original Female Factory building and also houses the original clock in its tower. The building was intended to be a showpiece. It is two storeys with a hipped slate roof and a verandah facing the river. The original arrangements of spaces remains largely intact, showing a preference for fewer individual cells and more larger sized rooms. Architecturally the building is sparse and functional with the notable exception of the fine clock tower which persists as the primary focus for the site (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, pp21-22).

Female Factory Clock (relocated in clock tower on Building 101).The clock from the original Prisoners Apartments wing was rehoused in the tower of Building 101 c.1883. It is still mounted in its original timber frame. The clock, a gift from George IV was manufactured by Thwaite & Reed, Clerkenwell, London, 1821. The clock mechanism, pendulum and weights survive intact although the clock faces (also appearing to be original) in 1992 were powered by an electrical mechanism of German manufacture. The mechanism connecting the clock to the clock faces appeared to be missing in 1992 (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, pp16-17). In 2008 it was in working order and is regularly maintained.

Female Factory bell (situated near Building 101). In 1992 it was understood that the bell mounted beside Building 101 on a cast iron frame was also part of the original Female Factory. It may have been part of the clock assembly (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, p17).

Stone Walls and Remnant stone walls. The 1992 Conservation Plan also identified other above ground fabric possibly surviving from the original Female Factory as sections of the sandstone boundary walls. They appear to have been substantially rebuilt in the later 19th century, and some parts reclad in unsympathetic 1960s textured brick. Several sections of sandstone walls surviving from the original Female Factory alignment and continuously shown as such in historic plans were identified (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, p17).

Spatial relationships. Whilst buildings and other individual elements tell a lot about their former use, this is a case where their interrelationships are of equal or greater significance. For example most buildings help define an internal space or courtyard. Rather than simply provide accommodation, buildings also served as enclosing walls to keep inmates confined. At the same time there was respect for Classical principles of beauty, formality, symmetry and proportioning. (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, p31). The space known as the Cell Block and Compound, also known as the Artisan’s Compound, located adjacent to the south edge of the nominated curtilage has been described by Edward Higginbotham as “a highly significant part of the Female Factory” (Higginbotham, 1996, p28).

Landscape. The site contains evidence of various phases of use over more than two centuries including early agricultural and industrial enterprises, convict and mental health accommodation and work environments evidencing changes in penal philosophies and therapeutic care (Britton and Morris, 1999, p3).

Archaeological potential of entire site. ”Underfloor deposits are expected to reveal a wealth of artifactual evidence of the nature of usage and occupation” (Perumal Murphy Wu Conservation Plan 1992, p13, 18)

Other significant buildings within the curtilage associated with later phases of the site’s history are described in Jackson Teece building fabric survey of 1996.

Q7b. What condition is it in? Describe whether the place is intact or if there has there been any damage or disturbance.

The site meets at least a minimum standard of maintenance and repair as is required under the SHR listing, however there is little care taken in the presentation of its historic attributes and no attempt at any interpretation of these.

The three most significant buildings in the precinct are the two Greenway designed 1818 buildings (101 N 103) and the 1826 third class sleeping quarters (105).

The two Greenway-designed buildings dating from 1818-21 (now known as Buildings 111 and 103) with some external and internal modifications. They retain their original footprint and relationship with each other including the significant courtyard spaces in between them. Building 103 was used for matrons quarters, meeting rooms and storage. Current use is for training, library and storage. Building 111 was original 1818 hospital and is currently used for a credit union and paper storage.

The 1826 building (105), is relatively intact, and currently vacant.

 The 1883-4 building with clocktower (101) constructed using stone from the original Female Factory is in good condition.

The dead room has been modified and is located within the original Greenway designed plan north of the north eastern corner of the current wood yard (currently not allocated a Cumberland Hospital number.

There are three perimeter wall areas intact:

1)      Five walls surrounding buildings noted as 100 (the wood yard) and forming a courtyard (1830s Gipps commissioned courtyard)

     2)      Two sections meeting in a corner north of building 109 and bound by 2 adjacent carparks and river road (northeast corner of the Greenway design)

3)      Original 1818 wall between building 101 and the wood yard (southern perimeter of the Greenway design). The section between building 101 extending to the ‘dead room’ are original with capping removed. The section between building 101and the river has been modified for the development of building 101 but is the original stone in original method and placement.

 In the Conservation Management Plan and Archaeological Management Plan – Cumberland Hospital East Campus and Wisteria Gardens, April 2010 Edward Higginbotham describes two factory precincts -Precinct 1 –Female Factory and Asylum, Precinct 2 - Cell Block extension precinct (Gipps solitary cell yard). The buildings and architectural elements in the female factory footprint are described by him in the site conservation management plan as: Buildings 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110. 111, adj 101 (wall), 100 (Sandstone wall), Shelter shed, Artisans workshops, 100, lightweight sheds, stone stockpile (original convict stone). The surviving building fabric is described as:

  1. North and South Wings on east and west side of the factory (buildings 102,103,104, 111).
  2. The clock  from the female factory rehoused in ward 1 (building 101).
  3. The factory bell beside Ward 1 (building 101)
  4. Dormitory for Female Convicts, Ward no 5 (building 105) and courtyard with dining room elements
  5. The boundary wall to the artisans compound (precinct 2)
  6. Sections of the Boundary Walls together with the urinals cell block for criminal lunatics
  7. Sections of the original walls of the female factory and lunatic asylum
    1. On the north side of the artisans compound
    2. On the east side of yard 2 that is the yard associated with ward no 2 (building 107. This wall was altered to accommodate the cell block for the criminally insane in the 1860s
    3. On the north side of Yard 5, west of ward no.5 Building 105
    4. Parts of the east and north walls of the yards built in 1876-1877 near river road

Main phases of the site’s history:

Time immemorial: Aboriginal land. The upper reaches of the Parramatta River were eel breeding grounds. Along the river a number of middens have been found, however without archaeological survey of this area this can’t be confirmed at the factory site. It is probable that this area was used by the Burramattagal people.

 c.1792: Colonial settlement prior to the Female Factory Era. Charles Smith was given the first land grant for this site in 1792, making it one of the earliest land grants in the colony of NSW. It is considered likely that that Smith lived on the site and farmed it. Part of this site is also associated with a Mill built  by the government in 1798. The mill race ran in a south­ easterly direction from above the junction of Toongabbie Creek across Smith’s farm. Some of the stones at the weir fronting this site are still in situ. Like the Parramatta Female Factory this stone was quarried from the Fleet Street Quarry (on Fleet Street near Albert Street). Around 1803 Samuel Marsden took possession of Smith’s grant and in 1812 he gained the title for this property together with an adjoining 6 acres. By 1810 Marsden was using the mill race for another mill which belonged to him. Around this time Governor Bligh was granted 105 acres bordering Marsden's property. After Governor Bligh’s return to England Governor Macquarie garnished 4 acres for the Female Factory.

1818-c.1848:  The Female Factory. The institutional use of the site commenced in 1818 when Governor Macquarie laid the foundation stone for what was called the Female Factory. As the use was established other buildings were constructed, elements of which persist.

 c1849 -c.1878: Parramatta Lunatic Asylum. In about 1849 after the transportation of convicts to NSW had ceased, the site ceased operation as a female factory. Its emphasis shifted to the accommodation of people with mental illnesses, both male and female, some being former female convict inhabitants. Improvements were made to some of the earlier buildings and some new building took place. Little physical evidence survives from this period. The first Surgeon Superintendent was Dr Patrick Hill who had served in this capacity at the Tarban Creek Asylum during the transportation era. Under Dr Richard Greenup, appointed in 1852, an emphasis was placed on the beautification of the grounds. In 1857 a meteorological observatory was established at the Asylum by the Government Astronomer, William Scott, who also supervised the building of the Sydney Observatory.

1878-c.1901:  Parramatta Hospital for the Insane. In 1878 the asylum was renamed Parramatta Hospital for the Insane, although it remained commonly known as the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum. Most of the construction works undertaken prior to the 1880s were for male accommodation. A new female division was occupied in February 1883 by 350 women. This division included a number of essential support buildings, including a laundry, kitchen, scullery, bakehouse, clothing and provision stores, a mortuary and cottages for senior staff. The demolition of the former main Female Factory building was approved in August 1883, and the stone was reused for a new ward (Ward 1) for 100 male patients, which was completed in June 1885. The clock mechanism was transferred with the bell to the new building. By 1901 the Female Factory Gates were demolished and a new administration block was built to the design of Walter Liberty Vernon.

c1901-1960:  Psvchiatric Hospital.  In this phase various alterations and additions were made on the subject site but most of the new development for the hospital was to the north.

1960-1992: Cumberland Hospital. More recent development on the subject land has been of a relatively minor nature, though the integrity of earlier development has been affected.

Brief history of the Female Factory
The practical difficulties of establishing a colonial settlement in NSW meant that accommodation for convicts was initially a lower priority than essential works relating to food production and transport. Principal Chaplain the Rev. Samuel Marsden expressed concern over many years at the lack of accommodation for female convicts, sometimes forcing them into prostitution to pay for private shelter. The upper floor of the first Parramatta Gaol was used from 1804 to provide a place of confinement and work for convict women spinning wool but they were rarely kept working throughout the day and there were no cooking facilities. Because it provided employment it became known as the Female Factory and this term continued to be used for all subsequent prisons for female convicts (DPWS, 2000, 57) (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

Macquarie announced in March 1818 that accommodation for female convicts would be built. Work was undertaken by Parramatta contractors Watkins & Payten and a foundation stone laid. The factory covered four acres (1.6ha) with the main building three storeys high. It was occupied in February 1821 when 112 women were moved from the old factory to the new. Commissioner Bigge, investigating Macquarie's administration, was critical of the lack of priority given to the project but also critical that it was too elaborate, believing that a walled enclosure of an acre and a half at the old site with timber buildings for accommodation and a work room would have been sufficient (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

The new building, intended for 300 women, was built 'at the extremity of a large, unenclosed tract of sterile ground' adjoining the river, which in flood came close to the wall of the new Factory. The cost was 4800 pounds, increased by 1200 pounds for perimeter wall and flood protection measures. Proximity to the river was important because of the intended occupation of the women in spinning flax and bleaching linen, though Bigge doubted that this was sufficient reason to build so close to the river and to Government House (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

Bigge's report included recommendations for managing the factory, suggesting a married women rather than a married man would be a more appropriate manager and she could live in a house within view of the factory (but not within it). Separation of newly arrived women from those sent to the factory for punishment was essential and he recommended that a new range of sleeping rooms and work rooms be built. Sewing clothing and making straw hats should be added to the spinning and carding work to occupy their time (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

The desire to classify and segregate the women led to their division into three classes and construction of a penitentiary enclosure to accommodate 60 women of the third or penal class, in 1826. A two-storey building, probably designed by William Buchanan, was erected for the worst class of prisoners to the north-west of the main building and enclosed with a small yard. Later in the 1860s this building was modified and the first floor removed to make a ward 'for imbeciles and idiots', but it survives as the most substantial remnant of the Female Factory (today this is referred to as Building 105) (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital) (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

Shortly before completing his governorship in 1837, Governor Gipps was given authority to improve the separation of prisoners and called for the institution of the American Separate System of solitary cells. His modifications included removing windows in the ground floor to increase punishment and reducing cell sizes. The three-storey cell block was built between 1838-9 to the south of the original Female Factory complex. The cruel design horrified the British authorities and instructions were issued to cut windows into the ground floor punishment cells. This increased capacity for punishment at Parramatta meant that the government could end transportation of women to Moreton Bay (later Brisbane). Women with colonial sentences now came to Parramatta (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital) (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

Dissatisfaction with rations in 1827 led to a revolt among the women, who broke out and raided the bakers, gin shops and butchers in Parramatta. Such unrest usually coincided with overcrowding and declining conditions (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

The report of the Board of Management of the Female Factory for the first half of 1829 reported that there were 209 women in the First class; 142 in the Second; 162 in the Third or Penal class which included free women under sentence; 27 in hospital, making a total of 540 women and 61 children - 601 individuals in facilities designed for only 232. Of these women, only 133 women in the First class were eligible for assignment (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

The women had to stay in the factory and nurse their children until they were three years old when the children were transferred to the orphan schools. The authorities believed that many mistreated their babies so they can get out of the Factory when their babies died. In one six month period there were 24 births and 22infant deaths. The Board recommended a nursery for the children when they were weaned so their mothers could go out on assignment. The matron tried to keep women occupied but there was not always enough wool for the textile operations. The widespread view is that the Factory was inadequate in size for the role it was expected to play within the convict system (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

The end of transportation from Britain in 1840 coincided with an economic depression that reduced employment prospects for assigned female servants. The factory became a refuge for many. Those returned to the government from masters who no longer needed them joined those unable to be assigned because of ill health or nursing children and those being kept in the punishment divisions of the factory. Previously time at the factory had been for many a transitory experience, now it had become a destination. (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

The 1841 census detailed 1339 people living at the Factory - including 1168 women. It was more seriously overcrowded after the convict system ended than at its height. In the summer of 1843 100 women rioted. They complained to the Governor of maladminstration, inadequate food and overcrowded facilities. Corrupt staff  were dismissed and new policies introduced to give the women tickets of leave so they could leave the factory and work for themselves. (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

By 1847 there were only 124 women and 48 children left inside - fourteen percent of the numbers of five years previous. Half these women were under sentence for crimes committed in the colony. A new superintendent and matron were appointed. Edwin Statham and his wife, appointed in the closing months of the Female Factory, remained at the institution until their retirement thirty years later. (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital). (SHR listing Cumberland District Hospital).

Building history of the Female Factory
The original Greenway building dating from 1818-21 (buildings 111 and 103) was at the centre of the Female Factory site. It was made from sandstone extracted from the sandstone quarry nearby (on the eastern side of Fleet Street). This was three storeys high and featured a Georgian central design with a cupola above and wings on both sides. The upper floors were dormitory style sleeping quarters with two smaller rooms located at each end. This was also the location of dining rooms for first and second class convicts as they were classified from the Governor Brisbane period on. The clock which was in the gable of the building structure was donated by King George IV in 1822 and was later reinstalled in the Ward 1 building of 1883. Originally there was to be one sweeping internal stair case but this was separated to deal with 2 classes using the building in the early 1820s. The floors were stringy bark and the roof originally oak shingles. There were two courtyards in the original Greenway design – a general one and one between the barracks and the workhouse. These were flanked by a garden yard and an airing ground. In the Governor Brisbane-commissioned additions there were three yards for class separation (the garden became an area for the second class), a general yard and an airing yard). A fifth added in the Gipps commissioning period was outside the Greenway perimeter and was for solitary cells and courtyard.  The walls were 11 feet high with a later extended to 16 feet.

The evolution of the site and the evolution of convictism are indicated in the material substance of the buildings and walls. The original room dimensions were Georgian. Attempts to exert control are evidenced by prison bars, turnkeys’ apartments, ventilation circles in preference to windows, certain physical reworking of architectural elements (such as shaving external wall reticulated profiles, wall separations of classes, functional separations of those punished from the rest, sensory deprivation, separation). The buildings constructed during the phase of the site as a lunatic asylum similarly offers evidence of the attempt to separate and control patients with mental health issues. The site also demonstrates the architectural work of Colonial and Government Architects James Barnet and Walter Liberty Vernon, as well as the late 19th century administrative guidance of Frederick Norton Manning.

Insights

The Parramatta Convict Female Factory is the earliest and most intact convict women’s site in Australia. Designed by Francis Greenway for Governor Macquarie, this Female Factory established this institution for women convicts within the Australian penal system, providing  evidence of innovations in prison reform and later designs for mental health throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Of the 24,960 convict women transported to Australia an estimated 9,000 went through the factory system and approximately 5,000  through the Parramatta Female Factory. This suggests that a significant number of Australians are descended from the women who lived here. These women brought over 180 trades with them and became some of  the business women, farmers, workers, teachers and mothers of our nation.

The Female Factory is the site of possibly the first female workers’ riot in Australia (1827) and one of the earliest factories in the Colony.

This factory became a model for other convict female factories. This female factory ‘experiment’ was a world first in terms of convict reform and combined work house, depot, hospital, home for the destitute, prison and convict transportee reception. It was a hospital, place of assignment to service the NSW colony, a location to request a wife, a place of secondary punishment and a factory producing colonial cloth. It was also a focus for the early Australian economy. It was a major government institution requiring goods, services and upkeep. It was a site where the wool produced by the Macarthurs’ Merino experiments was spun.

With only four known images of convict women during transportation to NSW, two of which are cartoons - one of factory women and one Governor Gipps as a convict woman – there is a lack of visual information. In terms of material culture there are less than 15 objects in public collections provenanced to the female factory women or the factory period. There are no known textiles from the thousands of yards of cloth produced. There are only State Record government related documents. The factory phenomena and life in the factory is ‘locked up’ in the Parramatta Female Factory Site. This makes national heritage listing critical to survival of the history of this important part of Colonial Australia.

Q9. What other places have similar characteristics? How do these places compare with the place you are nominating?

 Of the 13 female factories built throughout Australia during the convict period the only other site with intact remnants  is the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart. The Parramatta Female Factory was more important than Cascades, being the original prototype for female factories in Australia. It predates Cascades by more than a decade, it was in operation for a longer period and it had many more women inhabit it. Whereas the only above ground remains of Cascades consists largely of some of the enclosure walls, the now empty layout of some of the yards and a mid-19th century matron’s cottage, the Parramatta Female Factory retains one of the early buildings actually used for the incarceration of convicts (Building 105), and at least the footprint and footings of two of the original Greenway-designed factory buildings as well as some original enclosure walls and infrastructure (clock and bell). The Parramatta Female Factory site also has the additional outstanding heritage significance of its subsequent layers of continuous institutional use as a mental asylum and hospital. Cascades is listed on the National Heritage List and the World Heritage List.

                 

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