Larundel Hospital was conceived in 1938 to replace the outdated Kew mental hospital. By 1940 work was well underway when the Second World War intervened. For the next five years various uses were planned for the buildings. It was considered as a U.S. military hospital or for housing the Children’s Welfare Depot. In the end the R.A.A.F. took it over in 1942, using it as a W.A.A.F. training depot. Part of the existing complex was also used as a R.A.A.F. hospital.
In 1946 Larundel was given to the Department of Housing for emergency accommodation. The wards were hastily converted to flats. By 1948 there were 109 families living at Larundel.
By November 1949 the last of the families had moved out and thirty male patients were transferred from Mont Park Hospital. Despite this large parts of the hospital remained unfinished and a low Government priority. However a fire at Beechworth hospital forced a change in thinking and additional funds were located to open wards at Larundel for Beechworth’s patients.
It was not until 1953 that Larundel was officially opened as a mental hospital. It had 387 patients, a quarter of which were women. Two years later eight additional wards opened, allowing for another 360 patients (270 of which were female).
By the early 1970s Larundel had a number of wards operating dealing with a wide variety of psychological illnesses. These included acute psychiatrics, chronic schizophrenics, chronic psychotics and geriatric patients. A clinical laboratory had also been added. During the late 1990s there was a strong move away from institutional care of psychiatric patients and towards community based care. As a result of this a number of Victoria’s mental hospitals were closed, including Kew and Larundel. Many patients were transferred to Austin Hospital.
The site is now being developed by Deal Corporation and there are plans to build 550 new homes on the site as part of the Lancaster Gate housing development. It is proposed to convert one building for community use. The remaining buildings are currently derelict and there is no access to the general public.
The Public Records Office of Victoria have many historical records. Their website is www.prov.vic.gov.au. When searching the site a suggested search is 'Mental Health'. There are fact sheets on how to access records as well.
To access patient records please write to:
Freedom of Information Unit Department of Health Services GPO Box 4057 Melbourne, 3001
Access to records is decided on a case by case basis.
Alternatively, check www.health.vic.gov.au/foi
Bircanin, Iliya and Short, Alex. Glimpses of the past. Mont Park, Larundel and Plenty. Melbourne. 1995
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