Return to home

Stories in our Steps

Site 2: James Fletcher Hospital Barracks
The Newcastle Industrial School for Girls

"The girls barricaded the doors, broke up the bedsteads, smashed the crockery, and using the broken bedsteads broke every window and window frame in the Industrial School wing” – as reported by Superintendent Clarke, , 6 January, 1871, following one of the many riots that occurred at the school.

Did you know between 1867 to 1871 the Old Military Barracks, today known as the James Fletcher Hospital, housed Australia’s first Industrial School for Girls? A Government initiative brought in under the Destitute Persons Relief Act, 1866. Meet the inmates of the school (Alexandra Mangano, Anastasia Squair, Beatrice Fraser, Brielle Rapley, Laura Kuras, Rachel Probert and Shannon Groves) and Matron Agnes King (Rhomany Rayment), and discover why this school was shut down and re-located from Newcastle in 1871.

Cast: Anastasia Squair, Alexandra Mangano , Beatrice Fraser, Briella Rapley, Laura Kuras, Shannon Groves, Rachel Probert, Ro Ray
Sound editing: Lucy Shepherd
Voiceovers: Ian Shepherd, Tamara Gazzard, Lachlan Roberts, Alice Ropata, Penny Shepherd, Richmond Ropata

Director: Lucy Shepherd
Consultant historian: Jane Isons
Costume realisation: Victoria Phyllis
Crew: Mikayla Price and Thomas Lonsdale

Director's Bio
Lucy Shepherd
Lucy completed a BA in Creative Arts in 2006 and received Honors in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of New South Wales in 2009. She received contemporary performing arts training with PACT Centre for Emerging Artists in 2004 as part of the ImPACT Ensembleand continued her training in a three month intensive; 2uPACT. Lucy has undergone acting and directing training at ATYP and NIDA Open, and has performed professionally with Shakespeare’s Globe Centre Australia. Lucy is currently part of The Paper Cut Collective, a Newcastle based performance collective comprising emerging artists with links to Tantrum.

Find out all about the Newcastle Industrial School here

Destitute Persons Relief Act, 1866.

‘Parramatta Girls and Eyes to the Floor’ – Alana Valentine

Music Composition: Scott Howie

Verbatim excerpts:

Opening address taken from a speech delivered to the girls at the Newcastle Industrial School by Henry Parkes on the occasion of an inspection 9 Feb, 1868.

In reply to your last I am sorry to have to inform you that after the late riotous behaviour of the inmates of the Indus: School I must decline having one as a domestic servant on any terms -
James VERNON of Scone, 8 April 1871

On arrival at the scene of action, we found a large number of the inmates in open insurrection, nearly every window-pane in the dormitories smashed, and the girls engaged in pelting with broken glass and other missiles anyone who chanced to pass their windows, at the same time assailing their ears with the most filthy and disgusting language.
Superintendent CLARKE, 10 March 1871

Neighbours complained of the language used in the school and also that 'latterly the girls confined in the institution have been encouraged in their outrageous conduct by a number of vagabonds who are in the habit of congregating outside the walls and inciting them to revolt.
Superintendent KING, 9 July 1868

A want of calm and dignified demeanor combined with a firmness of action on the part of Mrs King (the Matron) who has evidently allowed herself to be carried away in the moment of excitement or passion ; to say things calculated to arouse rebellion, and promote discord with the class of individuals she is supposed to control. 
 E. C. WALKER, 9 July 1868

The girls barricaded the doors, broke up the bedsteads, smashed the crockery, and using the broken bedsteads broke every window and window frame in the Industrial School wing.
Superintendent CLARKE, 6 January 1871

Special thanks to Mindframe / Hunter Institute of Mental Health for facilitating the use of the site.

Back to the map

The Time Travellers
Site 1 - Awabakal
Site 2 - James Fletcher Hospital Barracks
Site 3 - St Philips Presbyterian Church
Site 4 - The Beach Hotel
Site 5 - The Lock Up
Site 6 - Pacific Park