Home 5 News 5 A Chicken Coop !

A Chicken Coop !


It’s a very basic brick and tile cottage on Victoria Road at Gladesville. Its front lawn is surrounded by trees. At the rear, the garden that once housed a chicken coop now hosts vehicles of various dimensions on a bitumen surface. Back in the 1960s, it was one of three houses in the area all occupied by doctors employed by Gladesville Hospital. The cottage was occupied by Dr Desmond Brady, an English psychiatrist, his wife and four children. The family had arrived in 1958 as part of the large scale immigration program on the Orcades. They were known as “ten pound poms” and initially lived in Orange at Bloomfield Hospital, then a psychiatric hospital also known as Orange Mental Hospital.

In 1960 the family took up residence at the cottage which is now the Gladesville Stryder Limited office. For a family of six it was a bit of a squeeze! Ingrid, the daughter, had her own tiny bedroom which our Business Development Manager, Cathy Wanny, occupies. Opposite, where our general manager, Virginia, now sits, was the main bedroom. The third bedroom, Lara’s office today, housed two of the sons, and the third son’s bedroom is now Bryce’s office. The toilet, bathroom and kitchen are virtually unchanged. The rest of the house was a living area, now Stryder’s open plan office area.

Dr Brady was previously a psychiatric registrar at St Bernard’s Hospital in Southall in the UK. He was one of the doctors instrumental in advances made in the treatment of schizophrenia via a more permissive regime and the use of new drugs. This treatment allowed Gladesville Hospital patients a much greater freedom to move about the site and interact with others rather than being confined to locked wards.

The Brady children and others in the neighbourhood “roamed freely” over the hospital site, climbing trees, often sharing the swimming pool with hospital patients, the boatshed down on Bedlam Bay, and the tunnels under Victoria Road. They loved illegally exploring the boiler house opposite Bedlam Bay Oval as well as sneaking in to Thursday night movies for the patients in the hall across the road which is now the suburb of Huntleys Cove. They enjoyed playing tennis on the tennis courts opposite the boiler house and rode their bikes all over the site. Gladesville Hospital Oval on Bedlam Bay was also a very popular venue, especially for hockey. In fact, in 1955 it hosted a hockey match between the India Wanderers and NSW. The crowd of over 8000 was the largest to ever attend a match up until then. The attached photo gives some idea of the crowd. Life then for the “hospital kids” was all about exploring the vast and sometimes scary hospital grounds.

Ingrid, Dr Brady’s daughter, recently visited the Stryder office to see how much (or, in fact, how little) things had changed in the years since the family moved out in 1983. A photo of her and her Jack Russell terrier “Digger” in front of The Folly on the hospital site is attached. Her memories of her days in the ‘60s and ‘70s are very strong, helped by the fact that she is part of a Facebook site known as “The Kids of Gladesville Hospital”, where she regularly keeps in touch with her peers of the time. She didn’t follow her father into medicine but spent her working life in the horse-racing business as a jockey and horse-breaker. She holds a science degree and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence.

Ian Dear
14 September 2023