Following on from my previous blog surrounding Glenora ward I thought it would be wise to document the current state of the other Oval precinct buildings, Esperance & Derwent. This week’s blog will be focused on Ward E.
Built in 1936, Ward E was used to house patients with a large range of disabilities, from severe mental retardation through to high functioning patients. Most staff disliked working on E ward because of its reputation as being a dirty and difficult place to work.
My initial thoughts surrounding E ward back in 2007-2008 was that the bottom floor and top floor were polar opposites. The Bottom floor always offered a lot less light than upstairs and generally felt more confining compared to the openness that the top floor gave. The floors were divided by one set of internal stairs which were closed off at the bottom by a set of odd Bi-folding doors which always seemed out of place. another era feature which stood out in E ward was the lockable wooden panel doors located on each patient’s room window, this is a trend I have noticed at other mental hospitals built in the same era including G and F ward and also Aradale mental hospital.
Stripping of the ward started soon after the March 2012 fire which claimed Franklin ward, being the largest building within the Oval precinct it showed the largest change within the period of work, But the work was short lived.
In October 2014 our hearts sunk once more when we heard the news of another arson attack hitting the Oval precinct buildings, this time it was E ward that was targeted. Fortunately, fire fighters quickly contained the blaze to a ground floor room.
Like G ward I had not entered E ward since the building had left the council’s hands, due to it being a construction site etc, Until today. After the state in which I saw G ward weeks prior I had prepared myself to be wildly disappointed in the state in which E ward sat, Surprisingly it was the complete opposite.
The ward is actually in great condition considering the damage it had been subjected to over the past 15 years. The fire damage was kept to a minimum and the structure and shell of the building look’s to be quite solid. The lino from the top floor has been removed which showcases the solid hardwood floors which are in great condition. Plaster has been removed to show the 4 original fireplaces which I had never seen until today. If given the opportunity Esperance has the potential to be renovated and re-purposed. I really hope the current investors see that and pull their fingers out and get to work.