Like much of the Female Factory, Yard 1 has been put to many uses since the days before it was a prison when the site was home to a distillery. Visitors can now explore much of the layout and history revealed through creative interpretive elements.
The first yard contained a two-storeyed staff quarters against the southern wall, a two storey building lining either side of the yard (east and west) with dayrooms to house the women, a hospital, kitchen and nursery.
The courtyard was divided into seven individual yards, one for the entrance and offices, one each for the Hospital, Kitchen and Nursery, and a yard for each classification of women adjacent to their sleeping rooms. The establishment also contained 12 solitary confinement cells in the northwest corner, a Chapel and sleeping rooms in the centre. Store rooms and workshops lined the northern wall.
The location of these elements can be seen today in the footprint landscaping that has been installed to assist visitors to comprehend the yard.
In its early days, Yard 1 saw its fair share of activity, not all of it relating to the reform of the women, in fact quite the opposite. A riot occurred in 1829 when soldiers from the 40th Regiment had thrown bread, butter and cheese over the walls of the factory to the women. The food had been confiscated and the women responsible for requesting the food from the soldiers had been confined to their sleeping rooms.
As a result of this treatment the women rebelled, first abusing the staff and then starting small fires using clothing and blocking ventilators. With the assistance of the Principal Superintendent of Convicts and a few constables brought in from the outside, the situation was calmed, but resulted in a flurry of communication regarding the riot and conditions in the factory.
In 1924, the buildings in Yard 1 were demolished, leaving only the external walls standing. In 1928, two tennis courts and club rooms were constructed in Yard 1. An archaeological excavation in 2001 located part of the retaining wall for the tennis courts, which were demolished around 1960.
The wall was built from sandstone blocks, which appear to have been taken from old prison buildings on the site. In the 1960s a wine merchant, Mr Frank Demarte, constructed a concrete Besser block shed in the north-western corner of Yard 1. Interpretive signage in Yard 1 reveals some of this post-convict-era history.