SOURCE: “A Private World on a Nameless Bay – a history of Morisset Hospital”.
What is now known as Morisset Hospital started with a small group of attendants and patients living in tents clearing the land in 1906. A jetty and a dam were built and supplies were brought by boat. The Newcastle Herald reported in August, 1908 ”….the wharf is a substantial one, about 300 feet long, traversed by tramway rails, which run right to the building.
As the hospital progressed from Calico Wards on wooden frames in early days, so did the setting. Although the last of the tents were finally removed in the early 1950’s. The hospital became known for beautiful lawns and gardens, hosting the “Festival of Flowers” which coincided with the gladioli blooms for which it was noted. The head gardener, Ernie Keen, had previously been employed at Windsor Castle and Hampton Court until he emigrated to Australia. Ernie worked at the hospital for over thirty years and designed all of the gardens.
The hospital became virtually self-sufficient with vegetable gardens, orchard, dairy, piggery, peacocks, sawmill, fishing fleet. Staff comps in cricket, tennis, football, hockey, bowling were organised.
During WWII staff enlisted and served in the Desert, Dunkirk, Tobruk, Changi. After the War Claude McKenzie (manager of Morisset Hospital) mooted the idea of building a chapel. Funds were raised by staff and community members. The chapel is a replica of the Mulbring Church. The work was carried out by hospital staff and patients who were tradesmen with the windows, doors and roof trusses being fabricated in the carpenter’s workshop.
In 1954, the foundation stone for the Chapel was laid by Lt-General Gordon Bennett, for all denominations. It was dedicated to the fallen hospital staff in WWI and WWII. It was mostly built by staff and tradesmen who were patients. The thoughtfully designed stained glass windows were donated by nursing and laundry staff and the RSL; the lectern and seating for 220 by BHP. The dedicated community and staff witnessed completion of the building of The Memorial Chapel; the first wedding was celebrated in 1958. The Morisset mental health facility received State Heritage Listing in 1999.
To read more about when the war came to Lake Macquarie click here