The Human Bowling Machine from Ladywell SE13

Biographical, Sport

Adil Rashid, currently displaying his bowling wares in the Big Bash League, recently took a five-wicket haul on test debut for England in the UAE. Nothing too sensational there you might say … except that he was the first English leg break bowler to bag a ‘Michelle’ (thank you Kerry O’Keefe!), five wickets in an innings, in a cricket test for 56 years! Its not that the English haven’t had any decent ‘leggies’ in that time – Robin Hobbs, Ian Salisbury, Chris Schofield, Scott Borthwick, have all been ‘capped’ for England – but when they have given them a go in the international arena they have done so ever so briefly, such is the closed mindset of the English establishment when it comes to leg-spinners!

imageEngland and Australia have diametrically opposed thought processes when it comes to assessing the value of leg-spinners. Everyone in Australia (and India) remembers Shane Warne’s test debut, 150-1 v India, grist for Ravi Shastri’s mill in 1992. And it didn’t get better in a hurry for Warne, after his first four tests he had taken precisely four wickets! But the Australian selectors, seeing the promise, persisted with Warne – and the rest was (leg spinning) history. The English authorities by contrast are neither brave or bold when it comes to encouraging and nurturing their young leggies, and it remains to be seen if England will persist with Rashid for longer than they have with other promising wrist spinners in the near past.

England invented the leg break and the ‘Bosie’ (the googly) and it is certainly not true that the country and its conditions are incompatible with good leg-spin bowling. Pakistan leggie Mustaq Ahmed in his legendary stint with Sussex took 478 wickets in five seasons of English country cricket (he remains the last bowler to take 100 wickets in an English season). Sussex won its first ever County Championship in 2003 and went on to win three in five years on the back of ‘Mushy’s’ persistent, penetrative leg breaks and wrong-uns! Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble was similarly successful in his one (1995) season with Northamptonshire, topping the championship bowling list with 105 dismissals.

As to home-grown leggies, going deep into the history, England produced, among others, the most phenomenal, overachieving leg-spinner ever to grace an English ground! Alfred Percy Freeman, as his nickname (‘Tich’) implies, was tiny, 5’2″ (158 centimetres in the new language). Freeman achieved phenomenal success with Kent in the English County Championship in the inter-war years (see below). The attitude of the English selectors to Tich’s “class of his own” performances, emphasises what was to become the characteristic “head in the sand” reaction, a reluctance to embrace leg break bowling and give it a decent tryout.

In the historical record books of First class (FC) and English county cricket the nonpareil AP Freeman’s career include the following highlights:

:~ 3,776 wickets at 18.42 in FC career in 592 matches (6.38 wkts per match, strike rate: 40.9, economy rate 2.69) – second highest all-time wicket-taker to the great Wilfred Rhodes who took 4,204 wickets in 1,110 matches (ie, in 518 more matches)

:~ 304 wickets @ 18.05 in the 1928 English FC season – the highest of all-time & the only bowler to snare 300 in a single season (he also holds number 2 spot with 298 wkts @ 15.26 in 1933)

:~ in all FC matches: Five wickets in an innings, 386 times, & ten wickets in a match, 140 times! The next closest “five for” in an innings tally achieved in FC cricket is 287 instances (Rhodes), 99 in arrears of Tich. The next closest bowler for number of “ten fors” in matches made 91 (Charlie Parker)

:~ The only bowler to take 10 wkts in an innings thrice, the only bowler to take 17 wickets or more twice in a match

:~ Almost half of his 3,776 wkts were unassisted – the batsmen were either bowled, caught & bowled, LBW or hit-wicket

imageWith such startling figures, leg-spinner or not, the selectors couldn’t ignore Tich forever. He was selected in an MCC ‘A’ tour to New Zealand in which he excelled on NZ pitches, followed by a full test tour to Australia in 1924-25 in which he made his debut at age 36. A combination of good, hard Australian wickets and the fact that Australian batsmen were brought up on a diet of leg spin meant that Freeman made very heavy weather of the series. Thereafter the national selectors choose the leg-spinner very irregularly. He did very well against South Africa and the West Indies, but was not considered for the tests against the Australians on either the 1926 or 1930 tours of the UK, despite getting a six for and a five for in the county games for Kent against the tourists. The selectors demonstrated a remarkable lack of perception in not showing a sustained faith in Freeman’s obvious talent and not backing him in tests, especially in English conditions. As things turned out, his record in tests suggest the magnitude of their error in judgement:

In just 12 tests, 66 wkts. ave: 25.86, strike rate: 56.5 BB: 71-7. Five wkts in inns: 5 times, Ten wkts in match: 3 times.

In the very limited opportunities afforded Freeman to represent his country, 66 wickets in tests at an average of 5.5 per match is more than respectable as returns go. In any form and at any level of the game, he was an out-and-out wicket-taking machine!

What accounts for the diminutive, right-arm Kent leggie’s exceptionality? Firstly, he was unswervingly consistent as a bowler … and he improved with age. In the eight seasons after he turned 40 in 1928, he took 2,090 wickets at 17.86, making him the leading wicket-taker in county cricket eight years in a row! Glenn McGrath has been described as ‘metronomic’ as a bowler, but it was Tich Freeman first who whirled them down with unerring accuracy like an automaton for 20 plus years. He commanded fantastic control of line and length. Although Tich was small, he was strong of hand and he had seemingly endless reserves of stamina, going on and on and on at the bowling crease. Freeman loved nothing more than to bowl and bowl and bowl. And he just hated being taken off. Regularly he would open the bowling in county games and bowl right through the innings!

Tich Freeman’s standard bowling strategy was one of relentlessly attacking the stumps. The line of his leg break was directed towards making the right-handed batsman play at the ball, rather than being able to let it spin away harmlessly. He tended to not overuse the googly, but had an extremely hard-to-pick top-spinner.

imageSome cricket pundits, in contrasting Freeman to later generations of bowlers, have tried to explain away or diminish his extraordinary success by predictably referring to the poor state of uncovered wickets in his day. Or to the fact that he sent down such a sheer weight of numbers of balls in his career. It is undeniable that bad wickets were an advantage for bowlers in that era, but in response I would ask what was it, given the even playing field prevailing, that made Freeman so much more successful than his contemporary counterparts? This comparison accentuates the point: in that English season when he took 304 wickets, the entire Derbyshire team in the Championship by comparison took just 324 wickets! The next closest individual county bowler to his 304 victims in 1928 managed only 190 wickets.

And while it was true that Freeman bowled a hell of a lot of balls in FC cricket, 154 thousand plus, the point remains that at the same time he maintained an outstanding career strike rate, less than 41, which is right up there with the very best of bowlers. Tich Freeman was a seriously great English wrist spinner whose fame was largely restricted to his home county of Kent. But for the timidness and blinkered vision of the national selectors in truncating his test career, Freeman’s bowling feats could be as well celebrated and lionised internationally as they are today among the Kent faithful and in pockets of the county cricket fraternity.

Warsaw III: Where Everything gets Recycled, even Old 1970s Rock and Roll Bands


Staré miasto market place
Staré miasto market place
Rynek Starego Miasta, the Old Town Market Place, is the historic hub of the city. The square is over 700 years old, dating from more or less when Warsaw was first founded. It’s a great spot to eat at the many restaurants in the open square (or in the adjoining ancient laneways), taste some real Polish food enjoyed with a popular local lubricant such as a Tyskie or a Żywiec, whilst admiring the old 4 and 5-story buildings that surround the square. Or you can just wander through it, looking at the drawings for sale or at other historic points of interests.

Staré Miasto itself, the Old Town, is mostly a rebuilt Medieval town, created anew out of the ashes of World War destruction. The squares and alleyways are full of restored multi-story buildings, once the grand homes of the well-to-do, now housing shops, restaurants and cafés. The buildings all fuse together to project a panoply of differing colours. The Old Town encompasses a small area only, with one end of it backing on to the River Vistula. In the other direction the cobblestone lanes and alleys take you from Castle Square up to the Market Square and beyond that, into Freya street and Nowe Miasto (New Town). On the way you will see preserved medieval features like the Barbican and the City Walls. Along Podwale street there are some interesting “patriotic hero” monuments close to the Wall, eg, “The Little Insurgent” (Jan Kiliński) and a monument honouring the Katyń victims.

Warsaw Uprising memorial
Warsaw Uprising memorial
Talking of monuments to patriotism, to the west of the Old Town near the Jewish quarter, is the city’s most striking one. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising sculptures represent a very stirring testimony to the courage & resilience of the Polish Resistance Movement in Warsaw. The Varsovians held out for a heroically long period against the overwhelming power of the Nazi Regime and the German Wehrmacht during WWII. The dramatic bronze monument in Rynek Krasiński near the Supreme Court depicts a group of insurgents in combat with the German oppressors.

Barbakan fortification
Barbakan fortification
The Barbican (Barbakan), in the inner ring of the old city fortifications, like most elsewhere in Warsaw, was left in ruins at the end of WWII. It was lovingly restored in the 1950s to its pre-war state as a well-preserved Renaissance defence structure. Fragments of the defensive wall adjoined to the Barbican also survive. At night local youths, the city’s punks and other outsiders, hang out in the recesses under its archway, improvising their own musical entertainment and busking for passing tourists. Old men also sit round the Barbican, a comfortable distance from the ‘rowdies’, with the purpose of trying to attract a passing buyer for the paintings on display in their ad hoc, wall ‘galleries’. The Barbican is a very central point for the tourist trade, connecting as it does the Old and the New Towns. On a hot summer’s day, after you’ve finished admiring the impressive contours of the Barbican, it’s reassuring to know that you’re only a short stroll away from the nearest lody refreshment centre (ice cream parlour)!

If you went anywhere near the British Bulldog Pub on Al. Jerozolimskie, anytime, night or day, in the second half of July, you might think it was hosting an international AC/DC convention. In a sense maybe it kind of was. The ageing Antipodean rockers AC/DC were playing Warsaw at the time, and all their far-flung fans had gathered in or around the Bulldog pub in preparation for the big concert. In fact, just about everywhere the tourist trail led in Warsaw in late July, was full of (often brawny-looking) characters in black AC/DC T-shirts, each with the name of their favourite AC/DC album emblazoned on the front. I even spotted an “Angus Young clone” emerging from the Bulldog decked out in the familiar, trademark schoolboy uniform and cap. With all those devotees of “head-banging” music thick on the ground, the British Bulldog Pub was an especially lively, and needless to say loud place to visit in July. Inside, the beer selection was wide, serving up a variety of labels of both your UK beers and Polish piwas. The kitchen even got in the spirit of the occasion, producing a special Australian ‘Angus’ burger … let’s just hope the steaks were ‘Young’!

Warsaw II: a Journey from Jerusalem to the New World and the Old Town


If you walk east from Warsawa Centralna on Al. Jerozolimskie you will eventually reach Rondo Charles De Gaulle (monument to De Gaulle). The rondo is easy to spot, in the middle is the only (artificial) palm tree in the city! Turn left here and you’ll find yourself in Nowy Swiat (Pol: New World). Nowy Swiat is a seminal street in Warsaw, linking the northern and southern ends of the city centre.

Jerusalem & Palm
Jerusalem & Palm
Ulica Nowy Swiat has the best array and variety of places to eat and shop (non-souvenir) in Warsawa. It is not however renowned only as an eat street, it is the conduit to the historic sections of Warsaw – the Old Town & the Royal Palace. Half way up the street is a monument to the great astronomer Kopernika, about here the street changes name into Krakowskie Przedmieście and we start to get the official government buildings, the main universities, the president’s official residence and the Parliament (watch out for the five man-guard of honour in front of the Sejm). Near the presidential mansion is a public bench that classily plays Chopin whilst you recline on it.

Royal Route procession
Royal Route procession
Plac Królewski (the Royal Plaza) is a huge square (strictly speaking roughly triangular in shape) smack bang in the epicentre of historic Warsaw. The first night I walked down to the Square it was blocked off because there was a police “charity run” all along Podwale and up into the Royal Route. Historically royal processions went from the Square south to King Jan III’s Wilanów Palace. Plac Królewski is awash with people streaming from one side to the other, many heading for the Royal Castle. Up from the Castle a guy was demonstrating a tennis trainer gadget he was trying to flog to the passing punters. On the restaurant side of the Square stands Kolumna Zygmunta. The 22m high column is both a landmark and the popular meeting place for Varsovians. We met up here for some of the walking tours. Just across from the Column I noticed a motley parade leaving the Square, those marching were decked out in all sort of exotic ‘clobber’, bunch of mainly old guys with sheathed swords, some in flowing Cossack-like outfits, also some veterans in old Communist military-style uniforms Not sure what it was about, perhaps it was a historical anniversary of some kind, whatever … they all seemed to be enjoying the fancy dress!

Zamek Królewski is the symbolic entrance to the Old Town and its most monumental building. The Baroque-style castle facade, 90 long with a prominent central tower faces on to Castle Square. Like most of Warsaw the Royal Castle has had an extremely chequered history, having been the target of various invading armies (Swedish, Prussian, German, Brandenburgian and Russian) since the Middles Ages. Destroyed during WWII it was reconstructed through voluntary donations. The Castle for most of its existence was the centre of national power, the official residence of the Dukes of Masovia, Polish kings and the Parliament (Sejm).

Old Town & Zamek
Old Town & Zamek
Nowadays it is a museum with many exquisite rooms, royal apartments and chambers, the best of which include the Throne Room, the Marble Room and the golden Great Assembly Hall. The hall and the royal apartments vividly recall the interior of Versailles. Pride of place among the art works are two portraits by Rembrandt kept behind glass. You need to watch out for them though as they located right at the end of the exhibitions near the exit-point, and if you are feeling a bit jaded after all the other art on display, you may slip out without spotting the Old Dutch Master’s pieces.

Eyes on the Prize: Callan Park, a Modern Saga of Development Vs Conservation

Built Environment, Creative Writing, Heritage & Conservation, Politics

In 1976 the NSW state government consolidated the two mental health care facilities in Lilyfield, Callan Park Mental Hospital and Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic, into one body, called Rozelle Hospital (the word ‘Psychiatric’ was discretely excised from the name). Drug and alcohol and psycho-geriatric services were added to the psychiatric care and rehabilitation roles of the hospital.

A watershed moment in mental health with profound and long-lasting repercussions for Rozelle Hospital occurred seven years later in 1983. The Richmond Report recommended a policy of deinstitutionalisation, moving patients of mental hospitals back into the community. From the 1960s, with overcrowding in state mental hospitals rife, there had been isolated attempts to deinstitutionalise starting to happen but the Report advocated that the government accelerate the process on a more systematic basis.

Stairs to a haven?
Stairs to a haven?
The Report’s blueprint advocated moving patients out of the psych wards and into the community at large. They were to be given support through a network of community-based agencies. As well, the plan was to open up new special units in mainstream general hospitals and accommodation facilities to take care of the needs of the former inpatients. In reality however these measures have never been properly supported by successive NSW governments, Labor or Liberal. Cynically but unsurprisingly, the parties in power have tended to manipulate the program to cut back on existing bed numbers and close wards in the mental health care system.

New specialised mental health wards were eventually opened, such as in Western Sydney hospitals Nepean and Liverpool. But the cost of caring for the former patients, providing them with the services and housing they needed once released, has not been adequately met by the authorities. As a consequence, the state’s prisons have returned in practice to a traditional role they had filled in past centuries, acting as de facto psychiatric institutions. Government research points to a high percentage of prisoners (90% female and 78% male) experiencing a psychiatric disorder in the year preceding their incarceration [R Pollard, ‘Out of Mind’, Sydney Morning Herald, February 12, 2005].

A side-effect of deinstitutionalisation at Callan Park was the physical deterioration of wards and other dwellings on the site. As wards closed, their upkeep was not maintained and many fell into various stages of dilapidation, some were found to contain very significant levels of asbestos. In 1991 an extensive DPWS Heritage Study was undertaken by the Department of Public Works with every building, evaluated zone-by-zone, to determine if it should be preserved, repaired or removed. Bizarrely, some of the buildings deemed suitable to be demolished were in satisfactory condition and still being utilised, such as the NSW Ambulance Service!?! Many of the old buildings earmarked for removal were subsequently pulled down but fortunately, somehow the Ambulance building complex survived [‘DPWS Heritage Plan’, (1991)].

The fallout from the policy to deinstitutionalise continues to be felt in the community. NSW Health’s 2007 ‘Tracking Tragedy’ report identified that there had been some 113 suicides by former psychiatric patients plus a number of patients who had committed homicides upon release [‘Final Government Response to Tracking Tragedy 2007’ (3rd Report)].

A monument to Ward B patients or war?
A monument to Ward B patients or war?
By the early ’90s the Kirkbride Block was being phased out as a psychiatric institution (the nearby wards however were retained for patient relocation) and a deal was struck with Sydney University (USYD) to lease it from 1996 as the site of its College of the Arts (SCA). The University then injected 19 million dollars into upgrading the facilities to make it suitable as a tertiary education campus. At the same time the nearby Garryowen House was repaired to become the new home of the NSW Writers Centre.

Uncertainty about the Government’s future plans for Callan Park led concerned citizens to form the Friends of Callan Park (FOCP) in 1998. Their concerns were well-founded as the Carr Labor Government in 2001-2002 produced a draft Master Plan for the land which included the sale of significant chunks of the site for residential development and the shift of psychiatric services to Concord – all formulated without having consulted local residents (this followed an earlier clandestine arrangement made by Carr to provide land in the Park gratis for a Catholic retirement village). FOCP and Leichhardt Council mobilised community support against the Government’s plan, resulting in a huge backlash from residents of the municipality.

Embarrassed, the state government backed down, ditched the Master Plan and enacted the 2002 Callan Park (Special Provisions) Act which guaranteed that the entire site would remain in public hands to be used strictly for health and education purposes only [‘Callan Park – a Tribute to the Local Community’, (FOCP),]

Later, Labor planning minister Sartor (again covertly) offered the the central core of the whole site (an area of 35HA) to Sydney University whose expansion plans for the SCA site envisaged increasing the student numbers to 20,000 and providing for up to 7,000 places in residential accommodation. USYD received a 99 year lease from the Government on the 35HA land. The University was planning to move the Sydney Conservatorium of Music from its present location in the city onto the Lilyfield site (the Conservatorium were very lukewarm to this proposal, as it turned out). This over-the-top development would have required 16 new buildings (some up to 4 storeys high!) to be built, which would have been a breach of the 2002 Act. Again after for a public backlash the Government backed down [Sydney Morning Herald, October 21, 2002;Inner West Courier, November 6, 2007].

Recently USYD has been murmuring about the prospect of pulling out of the Rozelle campus, citing financial difficulties as the reason. It has already flagged its intention to move the Fine Arts School to the main Camperdown site [‘Sydney University abandons art school at Callan Park’, Sydney Morning Herald, November 25, 2015]. The uncertainty about Callan Park’s future has prompted critics like FOCP to suggest that the Baird Government may follow the same path as Labor did in trying to sell-off part of the site for commercial gain. FOCP has accused the Government of taking a “demolition by neglect” approach to Callan Park, this will be a fait accompli, they contend, especially if USYD leaves Rozelle as the buildings will no longer be maintained and inevitably fall into disrepair [‘Callan Park in danger of being “demolished by neglect”, (23-04-15),].

New uses for old buildings
New uses for old buildings
The next signpost in the Callan Park story occurred in May 2008 when the Government moved the psychiatric patients out of Broughton Hall and relocated them at a new, purpose-built psychiatric unit at Concord Hospital, six kilometres down the Parramatta River. The Friends of Callan Park had campaigned to retain the psychiatric facility, the late Dr Jean Lennane advocated that, rather than closing down Callan Park, the bed numbers needed to be increased as deinstitutionalisation had led to an increase in homelessness among the mentally ill, or had seen them end up ‘warehoused’ in gaols, or tragically, dead. FOCP also called for an extension of outdoor recreational activities available to the patients, eg, establishment of a city farm on the grounds with the patients tending the animals as part of their therapuetic regime.

Leichhardt Council also voiced its disapproval of the Government’s plans for Callan Park. Despite the chorus of opposition, the NSW Government went ahead with the closures. The Council persisted with its criticisms and the NSW Government in late 2008 granted the Council care, control and management of 40 hectares of Callan Park (roughly two-thirds of the area) under a 99 year lease (previously the “physical fabric” of Callan Park as a whole had been managed by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) on behalf of the Government) [ downloads/background/A-Callan-Park-History-Timeline.pdf PHPSESSID=ecd5ab22e072 abe7c43db83d82830b6d].

Sensing the need to be more proactive, Leichhardt Council prepared its own “Master Plan” for Callan Park, which, in a poll conducted by the Council, elicited 87% approval from municipality residents. The plan provides for greater use of the land for a broad cross-section of the community, with new sporting fields and skate parks and other activities.

The land and structures of Callan Park continue to be owned by the NSW Government now under the agency of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (although the SHFA website still confusingly lists Callan Park on its website as one of the “places we manage” []). Some of the wards and halls (those remaining ones not riddled With asbestos) get rented out for film and television shoots from time to time, one building permanently houses a film production unit (building Callan 201) whose management harbours its own designs to expand further into the Park and create an international film production hub (again which would be a flagrant breach of the 2002 Act if it was ever allowed to happen)[‘Premiere plan for Callan Park film hub’, (20-06-13)]. Other current tenants of Callan Park include the Ambulance Service and a host of NGOs, eg, AfterCare, WHOS, SIDSKIDS and Foundation House.

imageWith Sydney University’s future campus expansion plans looking elsewhere (closer to the city, North Eveleigh has been mooted as the spot to expand into) [University of Sydney, Campus 2020 Masterplan], Leichhardt Council seems to be running most of the debate currently. Very recently, the Council approved (over opposition from The Greens and Liberals) a motion to use the complex site to house some of the 7,000 Syrian refugees due to be settled in Sydney next year, ‘Leichhardt Council approves plan to resettle refugees at former mental hospital’, ABC News, 09-12-15,]. This produced a predictable if minor furore from some quarters of the community, demonstrating that land use in the area known locally as “The Lungs of Leichhardt” continues to be a divisive and hotly contested issue within the community.

Callan Park 1900-1965: A Stop-gap Era of Tinkering around the Edges and a Delaying of Genuine Reform

Heritage & Conservation, Social History

The 61HA expanse of the Park
The 61HA expanse of the Park
After the Kirkbride complex at Callan Park started as a hospital for the mentally ill in the 1880s, patients held at Gladesville Asylum and other psychiatric institutions in Sydney were routinely redirected to it. Kirkbride had been carefully planned by the hospital’s collaborators, architect Barnet and superintendent Manning, and purpose-built from the start to hold a maximum of 666 patients. But such was the demand for its services that the hospital’s patient population had reached close to 1,000 within three years of its opening (1888), and continued to grow unchecked. By 1960 Kirkbride contained something close to 2,000 patients resident there and in the adjoining auxillary wards.

Unfortunately, political support for care of the insane from around the turn of the 20th century started to diminish, with predictable adverse consequences for mental institutions generally. Without the necessary government capital expenditure was (a reflection of public apathy about the plight of mentally ill at the time), the essential new building infrastructure required to keep pace with the increasing demands of psychiatric care was stifled. Hospitals like Callan Park, with fewer resources and too many patients, were forced to resort to medical treatments (surgical, chemical and mechanical interventions) to cope with the sheer numbers [M Lewis, Managing Madness. A Social History of Insanity 1788-1980]. The financial stringency occasioned by the Depression and World War was a further blow to hopes for increased funding for mental health.

imageDuring the first half of the century there were the occasional, tentative inquiry into the deteriorating conditions in state psychiatric institutions, but these, like the 1948 Public Service Board (PSB) enquiry, never really went anywhere. In terms of the overcrowding at Callan Park, measures that were at best only stop-gap were employed from time to time, eg, additions to the existing buildings at Kirkbride and Garryowen … which were architecturally out of step with the original Barnet and Manning designs [Peter Reynolds and Ken Leong, “Callan Park Mental Hospital”, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008,, viewed 07 December 2015].

There were some positive signs, finally, in 1955 with the Stoller Report which forced the Commonwealth Government to provide funds for mental health care in Australia. 1958 marked a watershed year for mental health with the passage of the NSW Mental Health Act, the first significant legislation in the field of institutional psychiatry for 60 years (replacing the 1898 Lunacy Act). The 1958 Act, in an long-overdue enlightened step, legislated that insanity should no longer be viewed as a criminal offence. It also made provisions for welfare officers to do follow-up visits of patients after their release. A further consequence of the Act was the construction of North Ryde Psychiatric Centre, the first such NSW institution in 35 years!

imageWithin three years of the new act a Royal Commission on Callan Park was undertaken (in 1961), the first detailed investigation into mental health in NSW for 60 years. The Royal Commission was in part triggered by revelations of staff delinquency and dereliction of duty made by Dr Harry Bailey (newly appointed medical superintendent of Callan Park) in early 1960. The reformist-minded but over-zealous Bailey impetuously went over his superior’s head in presenting a report directly to the head of the PSB. Bailey’s act of ‘whistle-blowing’ concerned allegations of staff cruelty to and neglect of patients, and the discovery that staff were withholding food and groceries from patients with the purpose of profiting from these stolen supplies.

Bailey’s action provoked a revolt amongst the workers with staff members of the Nurses Association and the Hospital Employees Union taking industrial action. Bailey, who was later universally reviled for his central role in the horrific Chelmsford Hospital “Deep Sleep Therapy” scandal, was ‘scapegoated’ and pressured by the government into resigning the following year. But, with the newspapers demanding answers, the health minister was forced to initiate a Royal Commission into Callan Park, which confirmed many of Bailey’s charges but found others to be grossly exaggerated [“A history of medical administration in N.S.W. 1788-1973] Public Health Administration: Chief Medical Officer – Director General of Public Health, (2003),; Stephen Garton, ‘Bailey, Harry Richard (1922–1985)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 12 December 2015].

imageThe Commission’s predictable findings brought to the attention of the public what was commonly known by anyone who had regularly visited the facility. Callan Park (Kirkbride Block) was too large, too overcrowded, with low standards of accommodation. The orientation at Kirkbride was custodial rather than rehabilitative, there was evidence found of cruelty, neglect and corruption … Callan Park had, as it is standard to say today of such matters, failed in its “duty of care”, it had become “a byword for all that was bad in mental health care” [Tanner Architects, Callan Park Rozelle Vol I Conservation Management Plan,].

One of the specific findings of the Royal Commission into the Callan Park complex identified a group of male nurses and attendants who were bashing, starving, verbally abusing patients, as well as neglecting their state of cleanliness. Sadist nurses were a recurring feature of Callan Park, going back to the institution’s infancy, ex-patients had testified as to the cruelty meted out by these “mechanical, inhumane creatures” [“Sydney’s shameful asylums: The silent houses of pain where inmates were chained and sadists reigned”, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 3 March 2015].

The incidences of illegalities and misdemeanours unearthed by the Royal Commission hinted at the deep, structural problems that had plagued Callan Park since its early days. Bailey’s actions in exposing malpractice at Callan Park, though injudicious in method (Bailey secretly taped a conversation he had with NSW health minister Sheahan), ensured that the institution’s activities stayed in the public’s mind and in the media’s gaze in the years after 1961.

The Changing Face of Broughton Hall: Gentleman’s Estate, Repat Hospital, Psych Clinic and Beyond

Built Environment, Heritage & Conservation, Social History

imageBroughton Hall at the North Leichhardt end of the broad Callan Park area has experienced all the highs and lows of fortune over its 170 years of existence. Broughton House (as it was first called) was built by John Ryan Brenan after he had obtained the block of land from the old Perry (Township) Estate in the early 1840s. Brenan’s home was a brick stuccoed, two-story dwelling in the Regency style. Brenan’s financial woes forced him to sell his assets in the mid-1860s, but Broughton House stayed in private hands as a Victorian gentleman’s estate until the 20th century. A succession of owners and leaseholders held the property until ironmonger/importer John Keep acquired Broughton House (which he renamed Broughton Hall) and the nearby Kalouan (renamed Broughton Villa, around 1870. Work on Broughton Hall extended the home to a 20-room mansion. Keep also started to cultivate a large garden on his estate.

After Keep’s death, Annandale timber merchants, the Langdon brothers, eventually acquired Broughton Hall in 1912, intending to use it as the site for a sawmill. When news of the carnage of Gallipoli shocked Australia, the brothers changed their minds and in a patriotic gesture offered the estate to the Commonwealth Government as convalescence and psychiatric hospitals, thus it became the 13th Australian Army Hospital for repatriated soldiers who were suffering the effects of “shell-shock”.

After the war Broughton Hall became NSW’s first voluntary psychiatric admissions clinic*, Rozelle Psychiatric Hospital (1921), whilst Callan Park remained the place for more serious, longer-care cases. Broughton Hall (BH) and the auxiliary wards that later sprang up around it found themselves servicing an increasing number of out-patients as well.
* prior to this there was a voluntary ward for men only at the Darlinghurst Reception Centre – the Darlinghurst patients were transferred to Broughton Hall after it opened.

imageThe BH clinic’s driving force was its Medical Superintendent Dr (Sydney) Evan Jones who also took charge of the building designs and planned a distinctive garden and ground layout, using Keep’s garden as a starting point. Jones did a complete makeover of the existing grounds, creating a curvilinear garden comprising a forested jungle of tropical ferns, oaks and lanky bamboo with fish streams, quirky Japanese and Oriental miniature bridges and ornaments in the gardens. The landscaping of the grounds consisted of “building hills where none had been, valleys, sunken gardens, streams, bridges and stone walls” [Medical Journal of Australia, 26 June 1948, p 806, cited in Peter Reynolds, “Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic,” Dictionary of Sydney, 2008, broughton_hall_psychiatric_clinic, viewed 04 December 2015]. Critically, Dr Jones encouraged BH patients to actively assist in the creation of the amazing flora park.

Jones introduced the practice of occupational therapy into patient treatments (echoing the earlier approach of Manning at Kirkbride). Animals, as well as dense garden jungles and plants, were integral to part of the BH therapy approach. Jones added a zoological park to the Hospital with kangaroos, emus, peacocks, cockatoos and parrots. The last remnant of the zoo, the ‘Roo House, was demolished in 1972.

imageIf Moore’s Kirkbride garden can be described as a ‘pleasure’ garden, then Jones’ Broughton garden well merits the characterisation ‘Fantasy’ garden! It’s magical little bridges with their Japanese motives and their ‘humpy’ paths and curvilinear shapes and the dense forested setting, all combine to bestow a particular enchantment on the place. Jones stated the gardens should be used “as machinery whereby a patient’s mind could be directed from neurosis to normality.”[cited in Sydney University, Sydney Medical School website].

During Jones’ period at the helm, the Broughton Hall complex became the largest voluntary admission facility for psychiatric treatment in Australia, with close links to Sydney University (Jones himself lectured at USYD)[Tanner Architects, Callan Park Rozelle Vol I Conservation Management Plan,]. The interwar period saw Broughton Hall in the vanguard of “a virtual revolution in mental health care” as the number of voluntary admissions in Australia exploded. In-house psychiatrists utilised a range of therapies and treatments, in contrast to the incarceration policy of the large institutions [S Gorton, Medicine and Madness]. Later BH patients were encouraged to tend the “community garden” which backs on to Glover Oval (planting vegetables and flowers).

imageAccordingly, a building campaign began in the 1930s with a series of new wards built, supplementing the original Broughton Hall. A second building spurt occurred from 1956 to 1963 with new, small-scale residential buildings and landscaped surrounds. It also included a new occupational therapy building, new electrotherapy unit, IPC units and canteen [Building Ideas (Dec. 1963) cited in “Tanner Architects”]. New building work in Church Street (opposite the historic BH building) resulted in a modern hexagonal building housing a new outpatients clinic and day hospital. Also constructed on this block was a lecture hall named in honour of Evan Jones (there is some disagreement as to when these buildings were built, some sources say 1962-63, some, 1971). The complex is currently being converted into a Sydney campus for the University of Tasmania [See “Tanner Architects” and Peter Reynolds, “Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic”].

Broughton Hall (the original house) after WWII functioned initially as a female ward, then as an integrated rehabilitation ward, finally as a home for patients of the hospital’s Adolescent Unit in the 1970s. It was renamed, with unconscious irony, Rivendell, from the JRR Tolkien novels – “a place of goodness, peace and strength, devoid of all evil.” Rivendell’s relocation to Thomas Walker’s old Concord estate on the Parramatta River was a death-knell for Broughton Hall. The once great mansion became derelict, was vandalised and damaged by fire. It was boarded up in the 1980s and left in an abandoned, déshabillé state [Peter Reynolds, “Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic”].

Broughton Hall today
Broughton Hall today
In 1976 the psychiatric hospital in the Broughton Hall precinct was formally amalgamated with the Kirkbride and the entire Callan Park complex was renamed Rozelle Hospital. Treatment and care of the mentally ill continued at Broughton Hall until 2008 when all psychiatric operations of Callan Park/Rozelle (BH and the Kirkbride Block) were moved to the newly constructed psychiatric facility at Concord Hospital. Since 2008 the former BH wards have operated as a drug and alcohol admissions clinic run by WHOS.

Callan Park: The Kirkbride Experiment, a Microcosm of “Good Intentions”

Built Environment, Heritage & Conservation, Social History

On the water’s edge of the hills, lawns, fields, woods and scrubby vegetation that make up Callan Park, cyclists speed whilst joggers and walkers scurry, along the popular Bay Run track which skirts the Cove. Further up the slope on the grassy pathways of the Park’s environs, the primary daytime activity seems to be the local denizens out walking all manner of dog breeds.

Gardener's cottage
Gardener’s cottage
Callan Park is six kilometres west of the Sydney CBD, a broad area of some 61 hectares of largely park and woodland with scattered pockets of bush. If you stroll round its numerous, roughly concentric and hilly streets and walkways, you will find a very pleasant, tranquil parkland with an undulating landscape, gently sloping down till it reaches the foreshore of Iron Cove on the Parramatta River. The only residual sign of the presence of the area’s indigenous custodians, the Wangal clan (of the Eora tribe) who for thousands of years moved up and down its ridges and through its dense forests of Blackbutts and Ironbarks, are some traditional rock carvings out on the point of the Cove.

imageThe sense of tranquility that the visitor gets is joined by a second sense, that of a pervading air of abandonment. When I first explored the area with only a vague grasp of these old cottages and workshacks being somehow part of Callan Park, the disused, dilapidated buildings left me with the initial impression that I had stumbled onto some sort of industrial wasteland, much like you might encounter in Peter Carey’s early short stories, but with decrepit, crumbling, asbestos-ridden buildings replacing Carey’s old, rusty dismantled cars. So many of the old brick-and-stone buildings jotted across the land are in varying degrees of decay, some boarded up to prevent assault from vandals, for others it is too late – they are already showing the pockmarks of wilful destruction … countless broken windows and doors and graffiti everywhere. Almost all of the structures bear the familiar yellow-and-black warning sign “DANGER ASBESTOS” or more ambiguously, “MAY CONTAIN ASBESTOS”.

At least since the beginning of the 20th century it’s been an urban cliché in Sydney to hear the name “Callan Park” casually thrown around … people suspected of aberrant thoughts or exhibiting the slightest deviance from the norm would regularly be on the receiving end of a comment like “You should be in Callan Park!”. This often would be in a flippant tone but sometimes the intent was more threatening, or at least, definitely condemnatory. Such is the stigma of Callan Park’s long-held reputation as a place to dump the mentally ill.

The first significant European use of the land at Callan Park flowed from local land grants made by Governor Macquarie in 1819-20. Land speculators moved to try to acquire the smaller plots and consolidate them into larger estates. In the 1830s two men in the colony with influence and means led the way in this. At the southern end of the park Deputy Surveyor-General Samuel Perry acquired an estate known as Spring Cove (now in Leichhardt North) where he built an impressive mansion home he called Kalouan, around 1840-41.

At more or less the same time, John Ryan Brenan, the colony’s Crown Solicitor and Police Magistrate, consolidated his holdings at the northern part of the land where he constructed an elegant Georgian stone home which he named Garryowen (the closest pub to Kirkbride, just over from the park in Darling Street, is named after this pioneer home). Brenan also acquired land near Perry’s estate and built a second, more palatial home called Broughton House. By the mid-1860s Brenan, facing bankruptcy, was forced to sell his properties and holdings. At this point any idea that the land might be used as an asylum hadn’t been contemplated. The new owner of the Garryowen Estate, businessman John Gordon, renamed the estate “Callan Park” with the idea of subdividing it to create a bayside suburb. Gordon’s plans were trumped by the NSW Colonial Government after colonial architect James Barnet persuaded Premier Henry Parkes to purchase the whole site for £12,500 in 1873.

The government was coming under community pressure to address the increasingly critical overcrowding in public asylums, especially in the main Sydney asylum at Tarban Creek (Gladesville). By 1876 Callan Park’s first in-patients were transferred into Brenan’s former homestead, Garryowen House from Darlinghurst. This was only a stopgap measure and Barnet together with the Medical Superintendent of Tarban Creek, Dr Frederick Manning, eventually convinced the government to seek a more permanent solution for the burgeoning numbers of the mentally ill. Barnet and Manning persuaded the Parkes Government as to the wisdom of building a brand new hospital. Both men wanted to create a more humane environment than that prevailing in the appalling, gloomy, prison-like conditions of Tarban Creek (which frankly wouldn’t have been hard, so parlous was the state of the Gladesville asylum!) A site was chosen, directly across from Garryowen, to construct a very large complex intended as a state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital providing a curative and therapeutic environment.

Kirkbride & Italianate Tower
Kirkbride & Italianate Tower
Between 1880 and early 1885 some 33 graceful sandstone buildings in the Victorian classical style were erected on a raised rock and earth platform and then enclosed within four sandstone perimeter walls. The complex was eventually named ‘Kirkbride‘ (generally referred to later as the Kirkbride Block) was named in honour of an American psychiatrist who advocated that pleasant surroundings were conducive to “moral therapy”. The hospital’s first director of mental health, Dr F Norton Manning (also the NSW Inspector-General for the Insane), shared the prevailing moral therapy view of insanity as sinful, a character flaw that could be cured (or at least ameliorated) by preoccupation with work (outdoor gardening and trades for men and domestic service for women). If you coupled that with an attractive physical environment and religious instruction, this was the pathway to recovery, according to its advocates [S Garton, Medicine and Madness. A Social History of Insanity in NSW 1880-1940]

The Kirkbride complex, the work of colonial architect James Barnet, was the largest building project completed to that time in the colony (in fact the largest undertaken until the 20th century) at a then enormous cost of £250,000. Barnet collaborated with the hospital’s ), whose designs for Kirkbride were based on the Chartham Downs institution in Kent. Kirkbride was designed with spacious, pavilion wards and sun-lit verandahs and connecting courtyards. To compliment the aesthetic virtues of Kirkbride, an attractive lawn setting and a tree-lined picturesque (sunken) garden was constructed below the block. The appealing garden and the spaciousness of the Hospital was meant to break down the effects of the patients’ natural feelings of confinement by affording them more scope for movement.

imageThese grand, pleasure gardens were designed by Charles Moore, the Director of the National Botanic Gardens, with which they share some stylistic similarities. The gardens also contain something of a cross-cultural curio, a war memorial in the Spanish mission style [Graham Spindler, Uncovering Sydney, (1991)]. The eastern part of the park, near to Balmain Road, is lined with Port Jackson fig trees. At the northern end of Kirkbride, near where North Crescent circles round to become Central Avenue, are a couple of massive ancient Moreton Bay figs with the most amazing, gigantic root system.

Before taking up his post as Superintendent of Kirkbride Manning travelled overseas, researching the most modern methods of treating the insane. As well as creating the right aesthetic environment, his philosophy focused on the need to engage patients in meaningful work and recreational activities, such as growing their own produce and other farming pursuits (in this sense Manning was something of a harbinger in advocating the use of “occupational therapy”, a term and concept not in vogue until the 20th century) [Callan Park Conservation Management Plan, www.

Dr Manning also placed an emphasis on the quality of staffing, and played a key role in advancing the professional status of psychiatric nurses in Australian institutions. He insisted that nurses and attendants at Callan Park have proper training to be competent in working effectively in an asylum, and advocated that they be appropriately remunerated for their work.

'Clockless' Clock Tower & rear wall
‘Clockless’ Clock Tower & rear wall
A highlight of the architecture of the Kirkbride Block is the decorative Venetian “clock tower”(sans clock – it was never installed for some reason!). The tower is part of Kirkbride’s built-in reticulation system, on top of the tower is a tidal ball copper spire which indicates the water level of the underground reservoir below. Rainwater from the run-offs is collected in two underground tanks and pumped to the wards (one tank is reserved for any fire emergency). The surrounding walls of the complex employed a device called a “Ha-Ha” Wall. Barnet would have learned this from the work of 18th century English landscape architect ‘Capability’ Brown. A Ha-Ha Wall is where a steep ditch is dug on the immediately inside of the wall to prevent patients scaling it whilst at the same time retaining the exterior view (allowing patients views from their verandahs extending to the Blue Mountains)[“Rozelle Hospital Heritage Study” 1991 report (PDF), ; “Kirkbride Past & Present”, SCA,].

The 5.1HA block was designed to be entirely self-contained, with its own kitchens, separate dinning halls, capacity for 666 patients (with an even 333 split for each gender) in the rooms and dormitories (male and female were segregated at opposite ends of the block with other sections in the middle). The complex also contained staff residences, bathhouses, laundries, bakery, workshop, lecture halls, library, chapel, morgue and administration block. To the south of the tower is a furnace stack which was used to generate steam required for the laundries.

imageManning’s successor as Inspector-General Eric Sinclair was also ahead of the game! He introduced more specialised (special admissions) wards, such as the Female Cottage Hospital, to treat curable cases through early intervention, and advocated to have treatment of mental disease put on a more scientific basis [Peter Reynolds and Ken Leong, “Callan Park Mental Hospital”, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008,, viewed 05 December 2015].

Sadly, over the course of the next century, Manning’s vision of an enlightened psychiatric hospital using modern scientific methods to care for those unfortunate enough to suffer from mental illness, floundered on a sea of inadequate government funding, staffing problems and chronic overcrowding, and until more recent times, met largely with public indifference. The overcrowding was a contributing factor in Kirkbride patient treatment becoming less rehabilitative in emphasis and more custodial as time went on.