Uncertain future for Kenmore Hospital Museum site, Goulburn

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The Goulburn community is deeply concerned about retaining access to the old Kenmore pyschiatric hospital site as they believe one of two buyers is close to signing a contract. The heritage listed complex has played a central role in the community since 1895; hosting art and craft workshops, theatre and musical productions, sporting events — even Donald Bradman has famously played there, and a museum. The site, boasting an amazing array of Victorian buildings, has been up for sale since Longreach Capital Pty Ltd liquidated last year and now there are several keen buyers who, depending on the winning vendor, will take the site in very different directions. There was also controversy when Longreach bought the site in 2003 from the State Government. The story has made it to Canberra’s ABC Stateline and the volunteers are actively building support to maintain community access.

Kenmore Hospital Museum volunteers Leone Morgan and Lorraine Hyde are deeply concerned by the possibility of the rumoured plans by one prospective buyer to turn the site into a gated community. Mrs Hyde says while the Kenmore site is listed on the State Heritage Register, the uncertainty that now surrounds heritage and planning laws could mean that the historical integrity of the Walter Liberty Vernon designed hospital-village could be lost forever. ‘These days a development application appears to have more benefit than a heritage listing. We are very worried there could be bulldozers at midnight,’ she said. They are concerned that if it becomes a nursing home, community access will be slowly phased out by the new owners and they will not be sympathetic to the site’s strong links with the community.

Indigenous Ngambri elder Shane Mortimer has a vision to turn the site into a space for creative and agricultural industries to co-exist and interact. He wants to turn the site into a production space — artist’s studios, performance art and a centre for native plant propagation. So far he has raised four million dollars and just needs one more million to develop a place where Indigenous people around the world can showcase their work. He has set up a trust, AARK (Agriculture Art Residency Kenmore), with an appointed board to manage the property. Mr Mortimer has the majority of the community users’ support.

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Collection item: Canvas jacket in good condition (as new). Eyelets down each side with 2 pockets in front, both sleeves sewn into pockets, 81cm long x 58cm wide.

Mrs Hyde started working at the Kenmore Hospital site in 1962 and remembers the site being used for a wide range of high profile sporting activities. Cricket has been played on the grounds every summer for over 100 years. International, National and State hockey teams travelled to Kenmore to play demonstration matches against the local teams. Many other sports played by staff and community included soccer, football, tennis, bowls etc. Weekends were extremely busy as the community came to participate or to watch. She also remembers that Kenmore was seen as a leading carer in the field. ‘In 1938 medical superintendants from around Australia travelled to Kenmore to to observe the experiments in colour therapy, just one of the many different types of treatments introduced over the years. It was also a trial hospital for the introduction of medications in the 1950/60s.’ Part of the Kenmore Hospital Museum collection has been uploaded to CAN’s national collection database.

Please email Lorraine Hyde or Leone Morgan with any form of support.

One Response to “Uncertain future for Kenmore Hospital Museum site, Goulburn”

  1. Myf Thompson Says:

    Hi Leone – hope the AGM went well (as can be expected). I am applying to M&G NSW for funding to purchase some of the glass cabinets you have including the most expenisve. To do so I need some dimensions and materials to show whyt we are paying that much. Can you kindly either send a pic, or email some descriptors so I can complete the forms. As sson as convenient would be appreciated for grants deadline.
    Kind regards
    Myf Thompson (hon. curator)

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