The Ross Female Factory operated towards the end of the transportation period from March 1848 until November 1854. It served as a factory as well as hiring depot, an overnight station for female convicts travelling between settlements, a lying-in hospital and a nursery.
A factory was deemed necessary in the 'interior' as many female convicts were hired as probation pass-holders in areas at a distance from both Launceston and Hobart, particularly in the Campbell Town area. It was also needed to ameliorate the overcrowding in the other female factories.
When it opened, Dr Irvine was appointed joint Superintendent and Medical Officer at the Factory, and his wife was appointed as Matron. The death rate of babies and children was much lower at Ross Female Factory than at either Launceston Female Factory or Cascades Female Factory.
After the factory was closed the Police Department took over most of the establishment, though the chapel was used by the Roman Catholic Church.
Proposed floor plan of Ross Female Factory, 1848
(adapted from plans held at Archives Office of Tasmania PWD 266/1695)
When the Ross Female Factory opened the following article appeared in the Hobart Town Gazette (4 April 1848, p.348).
Comptroller-General's Office, 28th March, 1848
A DEPOT for the reception and hire of Female Passholders has been established at the Ross Station; and Female Passholders can therefore be forwarded to that Depot in all cases where it may be nearer to the employer's residence than Hobart Town or Launceston.
J.S. HAMPTON, Comptroller-General
See also the Hobart Town Gazette's State of the Factories.
Further information on the Ross Female Factory and stories of women imprisoned at Ross Female Factory, are featured in the Convict Women's Press book