Old Canberran’s Old Photos – Part 2 – Royal Canberra Hospital

johnboy 29 January 2009 65

[First filed: January 27, 2009 @ 13:56]

This is the second part of a series of photographs taken by RiotACT reader Old Canberran on his Kodak Box Brownie in 1948.

This week is the now departed Royal Canberra Hospital back in its days as “Canberra Community Hospital”.

You can click on the images to get larger versions.

He added this note when sending in these ones:

    Here’s a couple of shots of the old Royal Canberra Hospital before it became Royal and before all the additions which took place over the years. Included in the surrounding buildings was the Medical Superintendant’s house which would have been Dr JL Nott who had also been the super at the old hospital. There was also a large 2 story building for the resident nurses and this was on the other side of Lennox Crossing Road about opposite the Med Super’s house. Unlike today, the nurses all lived in and were all single young ladies.

    The original nurses quarters actually overlooked part of the old Royal Canberra Golf Course and the Molonglo River flats and further around towards Uni house was the Acton Racecourse which also housed a 9 hole golf course which subsequently became Federal Golf course in a new location where it now is. Larger and more modern nurses quarters were subsequently added to the Eastern end of the main building and the old quarters became residences for lay staff.

    For reasons best known to the politicians, this whole hospital complex was demolished to make room for a museum at the cost of a young girl’s life.

UPDATED: Inspired by all the wallowing in nostalgia going on A Noisy Noise Annoys An Oyster has sent in a bunch of photos with the following note:

    I am attaching some photos I took at the old hospital when I worked at ACT Government Registry in March 1995 in the old maternity ward of RCH. You might want to make a slideshow of the pics. They show the old childrens’ wards as well as the work areas including the tea room, lunch area, common room and file depository.

(Slideshow below)

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65 Responses to Old Canberran’s Old Photos – Part 2 – Royal Canberra Hospital
justbands justbands 11:14 am 20 Mar 09

Care to back that up with anything siplecon?? I’m not so glad it was blown to bits…you know, just ’cause they killed an innocent young girl doing it. I was born there, my Mum nursed there for years…it was just a hospital, no better or worse than any other hospital of the time.

    Jackson Topsfield Jackson Topsfield 1:30 am 12 Mar 21

    I was born there, my mother nursed there for years, it was our hospital.
    Living in the residence there for a portion of your life, making friends there, witness to the strange and wonderful…. “Watched an escaped psyche ward patient being chased by orderlies jump into the water and swim for maybe two minutes before disappearing..”
    And the 78 UFO disturbance.
    Maybe each and every story you hear has the meaning to you that was told.
    Because it’s not our story means we can give it our.. unpressent bullshit licence, and paint the past of many others ignorantly?
    Like every other hospital, like everything we were not present for.
    Share knowledge and preserve…
    You don’t have the right to change the past

simplecon simplecon 11:11 am 20 Mar 09

Cba Hospital – shudder – the things that used to go on there, truly terrifying. Glad it was blown to bits – just a shame the torturers didn’t go boom-boom with the building.

spin462002 spin462002 5:42 pm 16 Feb 09

I have found Old Parliament House spooky too. Maybe with good reason ; )

Thanks for your pics BenjaminL and John. Esp loved the slide show, so many memories of my training 1974-1977 and having my babies there 1981. 1983 and 1985.

My mother trained there in the early 50’s. I remember going with Dad over Lennox crossing in the old vw to drop Mum off for weekend night duty on H ward. (infectious wounds)It was right next to the Isolation ward which remains today on the left as you go into the Museum driveway. I can’t remember how much of it is still standing though….

There’s a group on Facebook for the Old Canberra Hospital for those of you with memories to share and nostalgia to indulge in ; )

Granny Granny 4:03 pm 30 Jan 09

Well, a museum wouldn’t be a museum if it wasn’t a little spooky. It’s part of the mystique!

dexi dexi 3:55 pm 30 Jan 09

Danman, If memory serves me right the local Aboriginals raised concerns about all the people that had died on the site. They thought it was not an appropriate place for the museum. I think it made the media at the time.

Danman Danman 10:51 am 30 Jan 09

“done” not “dont a night time shoot”

Danman Danman 10:50 am 30 Jan 09

The old hospital on that site was deadset haunted – perhaps teh land still is.
Mrs Danmans mother was a nurse there in the 50’s and 60’s.

Stillborns were buried on site.

I know the husband of a Nurse at TCH – he would never lie to anyone and has told me stories of when he was a wardsman on nights there. Invisible forces holding him in his chair in the rec room, whilst starving him of breath by compressing his chest – strange things that flew down or up the spiral service staircases only to fly out solid walls when meeting humans.

This guy would never lie to me.

I also had a friend who worked for CHUBB destroying data – he would walk the abandoned floors removing pallets of information for disposal – he said he was freaked out.

The night before the imposion (make of it what you will, but I tell you no lies) I had a nightmare that I was in the building just prior to it being imploded and everything was quiet except for a low murmur of thousands of memories, a newborn screaming, newly departing souls speaking in a quiet murmur, people sobbing. For sure this freaked me out.

I have no doubt that the building and its land is deadset haunted – when one place sees so much sadness, its tainted forever. I feel sorry for anyone involved in the events of that day.

Oh and recently – I dont a night time photo shoot inside the NMA – and talking to teh guards there has been plenty of ghost visitations there.

In one room, where I suddenly felt watched – though I was alone, my camera decided to have a hissy fit and delete/format the 200 or so shots that I had taken earlier that night. Probably a coincidence or technical error, but it scared the crap out of me because I didn’t feel alone at the time.

Sorry bout the long post, but natural history as well as hlocal heritage is one of my passions.

Thumper Thumper 10:19 am 30 Jan 09

Excellent photos!

Granny Granny 10:16 am 30 Jan 09

Yes, I never knew the Hotel Ainslie looked like that and I had my one night of honeymoon there!

caf caf 10:08 am 30 Jan 09

Those photos are great BenjaminL, I particularly like the ones of the Melbourne and Sydney buildings, and the Hotel Ainslie. Any idea of the approximate dates?

Granny Granny 9:56 am 30 Jan 09

That was actually really interesting, BenjaminL, although it was a pity that they were so dark.

It was a different Canberra when it was all so young and new!

BenjaminL BenjaminL 10:32 am 29 Jan 09

Ok finally managed to get the fax at work to get some images in digital form, but the quality it scans at is pretty poor and it came out far too dark, never the less as promised some scanned images


I’m seriously considering trying to find the originals, i’m pretty sure they are in my late grandfathers house in all his paper work.

Granny Granny 1:52 am 29 Jan 09

That is a very sad story, Overheard. I guess for better of worse it was a part of our personal history.

The other hospitals have been a part of my history too. I don’t know why Royal Canberra was special to me. It was the atmosphere, the culture, mostly things you can’t photograph except in your mind.

Overheard Overheard 12:51 am 29 Jan 09

The words ‘history’ and ‘nostalgia’ have been mentioned above. For me, it’s something in the middle which I’ll call ‘association’. Ergo, I just spent an inordinate amount of time at the hospital (RCH) and precincts. It struck me today that one of my earliest memories of the place was aged five, going to see my newly-born baby brother in the maternity ward which I guess was where the NMA admin building is. And then the last time I was there before it became the NMA was in 1998 when I saw that same brother for the last time at Clare Holland House. I concur with above statements about how good it was to be able to open doors and stroll about the grounds.

I had three stays at RCH in 1973, 1977 and 1984 and then spent lots of time afterwards with a couple of sick family members. Yeah, maybe it was ugly but having spent so much time in its company, I was almost sad to see it go.

old canberran old canberran 12:13 am 29 Jan 09

It was pretty ordinary before the lake became a reality. Across the road were the weatherboard Acton offices of the Dept of the Interior including the motor registry and on the other side was the Acton Guest House. In between was a view of Commonwealth Bridge across old Gerry Kilmartin’s lucerne paddocks and the Molonglo River. The lake changed the whole atmosphere of the place.

Thumper Thumper 9:37 pm 28 Jan 09

A mate of mine nearly died back in about ’81 when we were young blokes just out of school. The old Canberra Hospital was probably the best located hospital in the world simply because you could wander outside and sit on the banks of the lake, have a smoke and contemplate the world going by..

Granny Granny 9:11 pm 28 Jan 09

Yes, and I think the nice surrounds is important. Not just to be outside, but to be out somewhere nice.

gun street girl gun street girl 8:57 pm 28 Jan 09

Granny said :

Well, the architects obviously put a bit of thought into that design.

It’s interesting that those balconies were for the purpose of ‘… healing through light, access to fresh air and sunlight …’ because that was for me what made Royal Canberra so different as a hospital – the ability to breathe in the magnificent view from the balcony while other patients sat out in their wheelchairs by the lake and soaked up the beauty.

I think that was healing.

Except for those people who take open balconies on tall buildings as an invitation to jump. TCH’s windows are occasionally smashed because of a dearth of such balconies.

One of the very appealing aspects of Clare Holland House (both in its old location and present day) was the ability for patients to get outside. A shame we can’t reproduce it on a larger scale, for sure.

Granny Granny 8:47 pm 28 Jan 09

Well, the architects obviously put a bit of thought into that design.

It’s interesting that those balconies were for the purpose of ‘… healing through light, access to fresh air and sunlight …’ because that was for me what made Royal Canberra so different as a hospital – the ability to breathe in the magnificent view from the balcony while other patients sat out in their wheelchairs by the lake and soaked up the beauty.

I think that was healing.

caf caf 7:40 pm 28 Jan 09

The Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Camperdown isn’t bad looking at all.

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