Blog Archives

Seacombe Private Hospital

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Seacombe Private Hospital was located at 16 Wolseley Street, Drummoyne. It was originally built as a large private home called ‘Seacombe’ in 1883.

The hospital was founded by Dr Guy Dixon Menzies and two of his medical colleagues, Dr Hugh Poate and Dr Wilfred Vickers in 1912. It operated for over forty years and, although the date of the hospital’s closure is uncertain, it was definitely still operating in 1954, as the noted author Miles Franklin died there in that year.

Dr Guy Menzies commenced in general practice in Plunkett Street, Drummoyne in 1896. Two of his sons, Guy Lambton Menzies (1909-1940) and Ian Lambton Menzies (1911-1941) died during the Second World War and Menzies Park at Drummoyne is named in honour of their sacrifice. Another son, Dr Bruce Lambton Menzies, followed in his father’s footsteps to become a highly regarded medical practitioner in Drummoyne.

The photograph shows Seacombe Private Hospital in the 1940s. While the building no longer exists, Seacombe Private Hospital often comes up amongst people researching their family history as the place where a relative was born or passed away.

Open day at Rivendell

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The City of Canada Bay Heritage Society will be hosting an open day at Rivendell this month to allow people the chance to visit this magnificent historical building.

For over 120 years the building has provided support to those in need of medical care, first as the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital, named in honour of Thomas Walker who bequeathed funds to establish it, and since 1979 as a special facility which focuses on the psychological health of young people and their families.

The photograph shows some of the workmen employed in constructing the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital and their families before the building opened in 1893. Skilled Italian masons were brought to Australia specifically to work on the building.

The open day will be held on Sunday, 26 July 2015 from 9.30am to 2pm, for details contact the City of Canada Bay Heritage Society.

Dear Mother

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The Jeffery Album contains a fascinating and touching series of letters from Tom Evans to Margaret Jeffery at Five Dock.

Tom was a friend of Harry Jeffery and served with him in France. In October 1917, he wrote ‘we had an arrangement that if something happened to me Harry was to write to my people and vice versa. Little did I think as we both were writing each other’s address down that it would fall to my part so soon.’

While the first letter was addressed formally to ‘Mrs Jeffery and family’, it was not long before Tom was addressing Mrs Jeffery as ‘Mother’ and he continued to send letters and cards until the war ended.

The photograph show Tom (marked with an X) in Queen Alexandria Hospital, Cosham, Portsmouth in January 1919.

Concord Repatriation General Hospital

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The history and achievements of the Concord Repatriation General Hospital are celebrated in a new display at the City of Canada Bay Museum.

Concord Repatriation General Hospital was completed in 1942 to meet the needs of sick and injured servicemen and women who served our country in the Second World War. Originally it was known as 113 Australian General Hospital. The building was designed by architects Stephenson and Turner and has touches of art deco. At the time it was awarded the Sulman Memorial Prize for Architecture and, more than seventy years later, the building has stood the test of time.

After the end of the war the hospital continued to provide services to returned service persons and has expanded its role to meet the needs of the community of Sydney and, indeed, New South Wales.

The display on the Concord Repatriation General Hospital can be seen at the City of Canada Bay Museum until the end of June 2015. There will be a talk by Alice Kang at the museum on Saturday, 7 March 2015 at 1.30pm. Alice has been closely involved with the hospital for some 40 years.

The image, above, shows the original architect’s model for the hospital.

Hessian haute couture

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In March 1943 the 3rd Women’s Hospital was established in the former Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital to provide for the needs of servicewomen. The nearby 113 Australian General Hospital dealt with surgical cases while the Women’s Hospital provided for patients recovering from illnesses contracted while on active service, such as malaria.

Later in the same year a Red Cross recreation centre was opened for patients. It provided a space for women to recuperate and included a craft room where they could engage in handicrafts to pass the time. The City of Canada Bay Museum has a small but fascinating collection of some of the handicrafts produced by the servicewomen. One of the most striking items is an embroidered dress and coat made of hessian.

The 3rd Women’s Hospital closed in May 1946.

Nurse Irving

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In the early part of the last century, before the development of modern public hospitals, midwives and small private hospitals provided a vital role for women.

Nurse Sarah Irving operated a small private hospital at 33 Thompson Street, Drummoyne from about 1908 until 1914. Although no records survive, it was most likely a maternity hospital. Other private hospitals in our area which operated in the first half of the twentieth century were Glencoe Private Hospital (Queens Road, Five Dock), Gunya Private Hospital (Majors Bay Road, Concord) and Seacombe Private Hospital (Wolseley Street, Drummoyne).

Nurse Irving’s husband, Joseph, was a stonemason who taught the trade to their son, Leslie Joseph Irving. Leslie served in the 1st Battalion in the First World War and was wounded at Gallipoli. His name appears in the Drummoyne War Service Record.

Russell Lea Nerve Hospital

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In 1918 the Department of Defence purchased Russell Lea Manor to be used as a convalescent home for soldiers returning from the First World War who suffered from shell-shock and other nervous conditions. At the request of the Department of Defence, the Red Cross operated the hospital. Generous donations were made from Red Cross branches to create a modern facility for up to 60 patients.

At the instigation of Eadith Walker, owner of Yaralla and a great supporter of the Red Cross, the ‘colour cure’ was adopted. Avant-garde artist Roy de Maistre was commissioned to devise a colour scheme for the wards which gave special attention to the therapeutic value of colour.

A contemporary newspaper described a ward as ‘painted in colours which are supposed to suggest a day in spring… The ceiling is of sky-blue, the frieze being repeated in a slightly lighter shade. A picture rail of delicate green acts as a gentle break to the peculiar shade of yellow which covers the walls – suggestive of sunlight. The floor is covered with a dark green covering and grass-green mats… the furniture and woodwork are of a pale primrose colour. The lamp shades and bed spreads are, also, of primrose, while the curtains are of a soothing shade of deep violet.’

The hospital closed in 1923 and the building was demolished two years later.

The Red Cross also operated another convalescent hospital at Five Dock called ‘Novar’ (see comments below).

Open day at Rivendell

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The City of Canada Bay Heritage Society will be hosting an open day at Rivendell this month to allow people the chance to visit this magnificent historical building.

For over 120 years the building has provided support to those in need of medical care, first as the Thomas Walker Covalescent Hospital, named in honour of Thomas Walker who bequeathed funds to establish it, and since 1979 as a special facility which focuses on the psychological health of young people and their families.

The photograph shows the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital soon after opening in 1893. The elaborate ‘Dutch Tower’ watergate has recently been fully restored.

The open day will be held on 27 July 2014 from 9.30am to 3pm, for details contact the City of Canada Bay Heritage Society.

A stately home of Rest

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On his death in 1886, Thomas Walker of Yaralla left a legacy of £100,000 to build a convalescent hospital on 13 hectares of land at Rocky Point on the Parramatta River.

The Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital was designed by noted architect Sir John Sulman and opened in September 1893. Some 70, 000 patients convalesced at the hospital from the time of its opening until the 1970s, including servicemen from both World Wars. One of the more famous patients was writer Henry Lawsonwho described it as ‘a stately home of Rest’ in his poem The Unknown Patient.

In 1979 control of the hospital was transferred to the NSW Department of Health which has used it as a facility which focuses on the psychological health of young people and their families. It was renamed Rivendell, a name taken from Tolkien’s The Hobbit where it features as a place of rest.

Rivendell has appeared in several films, including Flirting, The man who sued God, Lorenzo’s Oil and, most recently, The Great Gatsby.