Z Ward - Front entrance to the main building

The heavily protected front entrance to the ward

In the early days of South Australia (1836) any provision for the mentally ill was lacking and “lunatics” were confined with criminals in ordinary gaols. In 1840 Dr. Litchfield, the first director of health raised the subject with Governor Gawler and suggested an asylum be built, and that the Government subsidise the project by paying a sum of £100. per patient per year. Because of financial problems this did not eventuate and Dr. Litchfield spent a short time in a paupers prison, while Grey replaced Gawler. Litchfield emigrated to Canada and became active in the health services there.

In 1841 a board to provide accommodation for “lunatics” was created and by 1846 a house with 8 rooms was rented, but not used fully. Six years later “The Adelaide Lunatic Asylum was opened close to the Botanical Gardens. It soon became overcrowded.

In 1870 the Parkside Lunatic Asylum was opened. It was intended to house 700 patients and staff. It is still functional and forms a part of the Glenside Campus Mental Health Services and with the other Adelaide sites provides mental health care for the Adelaide Area.

The Z ward, originally named L ward, was opened in 1885. The change in name from L to Z became necessary because of the then frequent use of the silent “H” and the likelihood of misinterpretation. (“Hell Ward”)