The Kew Lunatic Asylum was completed in 1871 and opened in 1872. The year 1972 marked its centenary. Over the years, members of staff at the asylum collected records, photographs, publications and plans of the asylum, later hospital. The Society has a number of important collections relating to the asylum and the Children's Cottages. These include the Dr Cliff Judge, the Irena Higgins and the Dr Fred Stamp Collections. This portrait photograph is one of a number of items donated by the family of the late Dr. Fred Stamp who was the last medical superintendent. Dr Frederick Stamp graduated from Bristol Medical School (UK) in 1968. He and his family emigrated to Australia in 1977 to Goulburn (NSW), moving to Melbourne in 1980. He became Superintendent in 1981 until the Hospital's closure in 1988.
Since the donation was made, the physical item has been declared a Permanent Government Record, and has been transferred to the Public Record Office Victoria in 2020.
Following their closure, the medical records of the Kew Mental Hospital and the Children's Cottages Kew were relocated to the archives of the relevant Victorian Government Department and also to the Public Records Office of Victoria. Other collections, such as the Fred Stamp Collection, were assembled by staff who worked at the hospital. The years leading up to the closure of Kew must have been fraught, and many of the items in the hospital were probably destined for hard waste disposal. Dr. Fred Stamp, the medical superintendent, kept aside or rescued a number of these items, of which this is one. Following his death, his family donated these to the Kew Historical Society. The Society recognises these items to be of lasting historical significance, essentially due to their provenance and to their rarity. Together they (and the Judge and Higgins Collections) are an invaluable aid for researchers of the treatment of psychiatric illnesses in Victoria.
Dr. James V. Ashburner, Medical Superintendent, Kew Mental Hospital 1952-1955. One of a series of portraits of former medical superintendents, sourced and created for exhibition purposes at the Kew Mental Hospital during the centenary celebrations of 1972. Each portrait is framed with a white mount on which the name of the superintendent and his term of office is recorded.
Inscriptions & markings
Dr. James V. Ashburner, 1952-1955