This is the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital located in Concord West on the shores of the Parramatta River. A convalescent hospital is a home-like facility providing care for recent hospital patients who need a little extra time and care to fully rehabilitate.
This building (and most of the estate) was designed by John Sulman and built between 1890 and 1893. It was built using money from Thomas Walker’s estate which he had set aside for this specific purpose. Thomas Walker was a politician, banker and philanthropist in the 1800s.
It stands elegantly on top of a hill on the southern shores of the Parramatta River. It includes a Landgate and a Watergate. The Watergate, which greeted patients arriving by river, is particularly unique as it is the only one of its kind in Australia.
The building’s symmetrical design originally divided it into male and female sides. It includes two enclosed courtyards, a concert hall and a recreation hall which is supposed to be highly decorated. It is of the first known buildings to make use of “cavity walls” for insulation and protection against Sydney’s hot climate.
It is a pleasure walking through the estate, along the water and amongst the Victorian / Edwardian era gardens. The other buildings on the estate include stables and the Joanna Walker Memorial Convalescent Children’s Cottage Hospital. It was used for convalescents until WWII when it became the 3rd Australian Women’s hospital. It continued as such until 1946 when it returned to be used as a convalescent hospital.
In 1976 the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital took over and continue to use it as Rivendell Adolescent Unit which is a rehabilitation centre for emotionally disturbed adolescents. The estate hosts an annual hospital fundraiser on the shores of the river, the Opera Night Under the Stars at Rivendell.
Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.