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Canberra history – The first Canberra Hospital

By johnboy - 13 January 2009 26

Riot reader Old Canberran is in the process of scanning in the photos he took back in 1948 and is sending some highlights in for us to gawp at.

This is a more recent photo to kick off the series but of interest for pub trivia purposes coming with the following information:

    “It is the original Canberra Hospital in Balmain Circuit, Acton. Now part of the ANU as the School of Earth Sciences. I was born there at the hands of our next door neighbour, Dr John James after whom the hospital is named.”

We’ll get into the old photos next week.

What’s Your opinion?

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26 Responses to
Canberra history – The first Canberra Hospital
Granny 9:08 pm 13 Jan 09

I will never get over them blowing up my hospital. I wasn’t born there, but some of my children were. It was a special place for me as well. There are other ‘good’ hospitals, but nothing like the Royal Canberra.

GardeningGirl 8:59 pm 13 Jan 09

Hi Old Canberran! I’m really looking forward to seeing the old pics. It’s hard to imagine the hospital not being on the banks of the lake, it looked to me like the two fit perfectly.
Am I right in thinking that the old maternity and paediatric wing was originally the main building of the hospital?
Ant, I always felt they didn’t do enough to acknowledge the significance that site holds for some Canberrans. I also feel that they missed a wonderful opportunity to incorporate a museum of Canberra on the site by keeping the old maternity building. Canberra is such a young city and too many of our relatively older buildings have been pulled down. I must admit though the new building has kinda grown on me (except for that orange handle thingy!).

old canberran 4:59 pm 13 Jan 09

The original Canberra hospital is the one above in the photo It is not underwater and is part of the ANU as the School of Earth Sciences. The original site for the Royal Canberra Hospital which is near the old Lennox Crossing is also not under water, it is now the Museum of Australia.
I was born in 1937, shiny flu, and I took the photo in 1997, 70 years later. My Mum used to be a member of the Hospital Auxiliary and every weekend there used to be tennis matches on the courts adjacent to the front of the hospital. There was a “tuck shop” just to the right of the main entrance and the ladies served tea and cakes through the window.
There’s a lot of history in that part of Acton. In fact just across the road in Balmain Cres is the house of Charlie Daly who was the first Administrator of the Federal Capital Commission. He had a black original Holden with the number plate ACT 1.
This was not the only hospital in Canberra at that time. There was a small private one in Forrest which catered mainly for the embassy people. It was/is somewhere near the Lodge if I remember correctly.

emd 11:27 am 13 Jan 09

I don’t know how to edit comments either. But here’s the link again:

wot said fred 11:20 am 13 Jan 09

meant to add if i knew how i would but I don’t so i wont!

wot said fred 11:17 am 13 Jan 09

emd, you need to edit that address above to renove the riotact bit as per below.:

emd 10:27 am 13 Jan 09

The first maternity hospital was located in Ainslie, at 8 & 10 Higgin Street. PDF Link here. It was built in 1928 and had only 6 beds, but was turned into housing in 1929.

wishuwell 10:25 am 13 Jan 09

I believe the original hospital site is now under water around abouts the Lennox Crossing area.

farnarkler 10:18 am 13 Jan 09

I lived at Acton as a child in the mid 70’s. I’m not sure what type of accommodation it was. We then moved to Gowrie which is now an ANU residence. I believe Gowrie used to be accommodation for newly arrived public service families.

Vic Bitterman 10:16 am 13 Jan 09


Looking forward to the other photos, and of course the stories to go along with them!

Cameron 9:52 am 13 Jan 09

Awesome. Looking forward to seeing the series.

ant 9:48 am 13 Jan 09

I never knew that building used to be a hospital, wow. At least they didn’t blow it up. they blew up the hospital I was born in.

there’s some nice old buildings around Acton, I’ve always liked the old Staff Centre.

shiny flu 9:40 am 13 Jan 09

How old is Old Canberran???

I find it amazing that so many things in out little world are linked by small stories.

Mr Evil 9:37 am 13 Jan 09

I think it is great that so many of these old buildings have survived, and are still in very good condition.

Thumper, this place would surely have to be haunted?

Thumper 9:29 am 13 Jan 09

A superb old building…

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