Heritage conservation at Parramatta North

UrbanGrowth NSW is undertaking a heritage conservation program at Parramatta North to ensure the history of the site is recognised and conserved.

Heritage building repairs and archaeological investigations are being done at both the Cumberland East Hospital Campus and the Norma Parker Centre.

All work is being carried out in accordance with approvals obtained under the NSW Heritage Act 1977.


Repairs to heritage buildings on site will ensure they are safe, secure and weatherproof. The work will not result in a full restoration of the buildings as their future uses have yet to be determined, however, it will ensure the buildings are structurally sound and protected from further decline. Heritage repairs will continue until mid-2018.

The following buildings are currently undergoing repairs: 

Ward 9

Ward 9 was originally built in 1892 as part of the former Parramatta Lunatic Asylum, and includes a kitchen area. Some of the stone was salvaged from the demolished Female Factory buildings and the timber portico is from the early 1900s. In recent years the building was badly damaged by fire.

Repair works include:

  • Replacing damaged roof tiles with matching slate imported from Wales 
  • Underpinning of structurally unsound walls
  • Repairing sandstone blocks Installing new fascias and gutters
  • Repairing doors and windows 
  • Repairing the entrance portico and roof lantern 
  • Removing the 1950s toilet block addition.

Cricket Pavilion

The pavilion was built in the 1870s as a shelter shed for male asylum patients.

The building underwent repairs in about 1933 with the original timber posts replaced by masonry columns. In recent years the Pavilion has been neglected and become unsafe.

Repair works include:

  • Repairing the roof framing 
  • Replacing the metal roof 
  • Addressing tree root and water damage to the floor structure
  • Replacing the pavers 
  • Replacing any unsafe columns

Recreation Hall

The hall was originally built in 1886-1892 as part of the former Parramatta Hospital for the Insane (previously the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum).

The stone foundations were salvaged from other surrounding demolished buildings. In 1967 a vestry, toilet, projection room and false ceiling were added, and several windows were blocked in.

Repair works include:

  • Removing part of the 1960s extension (the toilets will remain)
  • Reinstating the blocked-in windows
  • Repairing other windows and doors 
  • Replacing the roof

Mental Health Sciences Building

Originally built in 1910 as the Administration Block for the Hospital for the Insane. The Mental Health Sciences Building is currently being used by Western Sydney Local Health District. UrbanGrowth NSW is therefore liaising with NSW Health on the timing of these repairs.

Repair works include:

  • Underpinning the walls 
  • Repairing the roof, chimney, windows, verandah and internal floor.

Former Norma Parker Centre

The Main Building was built in stages between 1843 and 1882 as the primary building for the former Roman Catholic Orphan School, which provided for the care of destitute children in the colony. The Main Building featured a dining room, dormitories and a schoolroom.

The orphanage closed in 1886 and in 1887 the building was adapted for use by the Parramatta Industrial School for Girls (later named the Parramatta Girls Training School) for neglected children in state care. This closed in 1923 and re-opened as the Parramatta Girls Home until 1974. It then became the Kamballa Children’s Shelter for girls with emotional or behavioural problems.

From 1980 it became the Norma Parker Correctional Centre for Women and then the Periodic Detention Centre for Women (1997-2010). The building has been empty since 2010.

Repair works include:

  • Underpinning the walls
  • Replacing the roof with slate imported from Wales
  • Repairing the walls, windows, floors and ceilings 
  • Stripping back the external paint to reveal the original sandstone and brickwork
  • Cleaning the external stonework
  • Termite treatment

Laundry building

Originally built in 1882 as another part of the former Roman Catholic Orphan School, the building included a washroom, mangling room and boiler room with a loft above. An ironing room was added soon after. Since 2010 the Laundry Building has been empty and fallen into disrepair.

Repair works include:

  • Removing invasive vegetation 
  • Repairing the roof and roof lantern 
  • Repairing the walls and internal floors 
  • Repairing cracked brickwork and masonry

Fleet Street fence repairs

A palisade fence was built in 1860-64 on the boundary of Fleet Street. The heritage-listed fence comprises a sandstone wall and iron palisades, and was designed to create a physical barrier between the former Roman Catholic Orphan School and the outside community.

Repair works include:

  • Removing some trees and vegetation which are damaging the wall structure 
  • Repairing and cleaning the sandstone wall and iron palisades 
  • Painting the iron palisades deep Brunswick green to match the original 1860s colour 
  • Repairing and reinstating the cast iron and wrought iron gates

Read more about heritage repairs.


Archaeological investigations are underway on the Parramatta North site to help us better understand the Aboriginal and European history of the area.

All findings are being documented and reported to the NSW Heritage Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Archaeologists at work

Archaeologists have been working across the Parramatta North site to uncover geological and historical information in order to inform building repairs and future design of public open spaces.

Excavation machines are taking off the top layer of ground cover (eg grass) and archaeologists then carefully dig by hand with shovels, picks, trowels and brushes.

Archaeologists collect the soil in buckets and sift through each bucket to see what they contain.

Any finds are cleaned and recorded using photographs, scale drawings and written notes.

Archaeological finds

In early 2017 the archaeologists at Parramatta North found the following:

  • Tool-making flints on the Oval at Cumberland East which confirm Aboriginal activity in the area
  • Glass marbles, hand-made game counters and miniature porcelain dolls around the Main Building of the Norma Parker Centre (c. pre-1914)
  • A clay tobacco pipe (c.1847-1870) at the Norma Parker Centre
  • A child’s bone toothbrush (c. pre 1940) and a lined writing slate and slate pencils (c.1868-1943) at the Norma Parker Centre.

Archaeology factsheet

The archaeological investigations have uncovered abundant evidence of Aboriginal occupation prior to and during the early stages of European settlement in Parramatta. We have uncovered over 2,000 artefacts made from stone and glass.