Heathcote Cultural Precinct - Museum
Located on Point Heathcote/Kooyagoordup, HCP Museum is situated within the historic and heritage protected site of the old Point Heathcote Mental Reception Home, later called Heathcote Hospital.
The Museum offers visitors an insight into the vital role played by the Reception Home in Mental Health facilities developed throughout Western Australia in the 20th Century.
The Heathcote Museum Collection includes photographs, historical artifacts, newspaper articles, maps and plans, oral histories and documents that relate to the site's history. The complete collection is digitally archived and accessible on the City of Melville Library Catalogue. Search the Museums and Local History Collections
Point Heathcote (Kooyagoordup)
The traditional owners of this land are the Beeliar people who knew this land as 'Kooyagoordup' - the place of the 'Kooyar' a species of frog. It was a permanent lookout, fishing and camping ground particularly for Beeliar elders Midgegooroo, Yagan and Mundy, because of 'Moondaap', the blackness of the river bank. At the Point, men passed through their level two initiation ceremonies.
Point Heathcote was one of the landing and camp sites of Captain James Stirling during his exploration of the Swan River in 1827. His intention was to assess the potential of the district for settlement. The area was named after one of Stirling’s crew members, Midshipman G.C. Heathcote, said to have been the first European to set foot on the site.
From the 1840s Pt Heathcote was used for grazing horses and cattle. During the mid 1890s, Mr Alexander Matheson subdivided the surrounding area for residential development, but Point Heathcote remained virgin bushland. In 1918 the Catholic Church Christian Brothers finally secured the land with the intention of establishing a boy’s school. The land was used as a holiday retreat until 1923.
Point Heathcote Mental Reception Home
The need for a new mental institution in Perth had arisen in the early 1920s. This was due to an increasing number of patients and the deteriorating conditions at the Claremont Mental Hospital. Eight hectares of land were purchased from the Catholic Church in 1923. Point Heathcote, situated at the junction of the Swan and Canning Rivers, was considered to be most suitable for patients. It offered peace, tranquility and beneficial sea breezes.
The Point Heathcote Reception Centre marked a new attitude towards mental health. It broke away from the traditional way of treating and housing the mentally ill. The site was developed to be harmonious and aesthetically pleasing. It offered both communal and private spaces for patients and staff. The Centre was used as a home for ‘mildly afflicted’ patients. Patients considered to be more acute were sent to Claremont.
The original site consisted of male and female blocks, an administration block, staff quarters, kitchen block, storage rooms and boiler house. There were also tennis courts, sports areas and extensive gardens and lawns. The Water Clock Tower was designed in 1928 by architect J. Tait. It contained water for the Home and an electronically operated clock.
The Point Heathcote Reception Centre was completed in 1929 at a cost of 55,675 pounds and initially provided for 76 patients (male and female). Additional buildings and alterations were constructed between 1940 and 1980 to cater for the changing needs of mental treatments. This included Swan House, built in 1940 as the admission and treatment wards. Swan House is now home to the Museum and Gallery.
Heathcote closed in 1994. In 1997 the City of Melville commenced discussions with the State Government to restore the site for the people of Western Australia. The land is part of a heritage precinct of conserved and reused buildings.
A comprehensive historical timeline is available here
Researching your Family History at Heathcote
At Heathcote Cultural Precinct, we often receive questions about patients or staff connected to the former hospital. We have produced a booklet that contains a list of sources to help research family history through mental health records in Western Australia.