Residents in Maitland petitioned the
for a hospital and gaol in 1835 when the population of the town
reached 1900, however the Immigrant's Home founded by Caroline Chisholm in East Maitland
was the first public building used to care for the sick in Maitland. This
site became known as the Maitland Benevolent Asylum.
The facilities were soon
found to be inadequate and it was thought that although
several invalids had received benefits from the asylum,
in the absence of proper hospital apparatus, injury
could be done to patients in the future.
Funds were an issue and early in 1843 a meeting was called to
discuss applying to the Benevolent Asylum in Sydney for
assistance for the maintenance of several 'of the
convict class'. By the end of
1843 patients and staff were moved to
Hannan House a two story
brick building in Hannan Street, West Maitland.
A Committee was formed and succeeded in obtaining a grant of £1000 for a new
hospital on 5th December 1844. New rules were required for the
Andrew Liddell, J. M. Potts, R. Jones, H.I.
Rev. W. Stack, Rev. J.T. Lynch, Rev. W. McIntyre and
Rev. F. Lewis were appointed to draft them. In April 1845 Sir George Gipps
approved a grant of a site at Campbell's Hill, West Maitland opposite
The foundation stone was laid by
Edward Denny Day on
26th January 1846.
Edward C. Close was
the first President of the Committee and
John Kingsmill was Secretary.
Trustees appointed were
Edward Denny Day,
Edward C. Close, Andrew Lang,
In April 1846 the
foundation stone that was laid in January was removed from its bed by person
or persons unknown, the bottle deposited in it was taken out and broken and
the parchment carried away. A reward or Conditional pardon was offered
for information leading to the conviction of the guilty party
hospital was financed by subscribers, collection boxes,
paying patients' donations and Police fines (in one
quarter this source could provide as much as £33)
and an amount from the Colonial Treasurer equivalent to
the amount collected. In October 1847 the Colonial
Treasurer forwarded £64/2/4d.
In 1847 The Governor Sir Charles Fitzroy visited the
Hospital and handed over to the Treasurer a cheque for
the 'handsome amount' of £10.
Major Innes also donated £2. Benefactors would also donate sheep, wine and cordials
for the patients and each year on public holidays such
as Easter, Queen's Birthday, and Christmas Day prominent
citizens from Maitland and the surrounds would present
a special dinner for the patients.
other members that 81 patients had received medical
treatment in the previous quarter. Thirty three were
discharged cured, 17 forwarded to Sydney, nine had died
and eleven remained in the hospital.
the Quarterly meeting of the General Committee held in
October 1847, the Secretary,
In September 1847 the
Building Committee announced that plans for the building
of the new hospital would be accepted. The line running
east and west inclined 5 feet 4 inches in 80 feet and
the north and south line 1 foot 2 inches in 80 feet. The
cost of the building was not to exceed £2000
and fifteen guineas would be awarded to the party
furnishing the approved plan. The Building Committee
favoured a projecting roof and verandahs.
By May 1848 the
Maitland Mercury was reporting that the walls of the
new hospital were visible from the town. The hospital was
said to be awkwardly arranged in that
the front of the hospital faced the town and the back of
the hospital with its kitchens etc faced the road. It was thought that the architectural effect from the town would
be very good as it would appear higher and larger but
that the drainage from the building must flow past the
front which they felt was undesirable. The view of the
town itself from the hospital was said to be excellent
and the best in West Maitland.
Almost completed by 1849,
and considered one of the chief architectural ornaments
of Maitland, the workmanship at the new hospital by
builder Mr. Ashton was considered excellent with the
walls being closely jointed and built of first rate
bricks and the mortar used having a very large
proportion of lime. A two story building, it was 86 feet
broad by 50 ft deep and a verandah and balcony 9 ft wide
ran along the whole front. The back wall was almost 30
ft high and the side walls gradually increased in height
owing to the declination of the ground, the front wall
being 35 ft high. A verandah and balcony was also
situated at the back each 46 ft long and enclosed
between two wings. There were 21 rooms, a broad central
hall and two cross passages leading to the wards. The
upper story was nearly a facsimile of the ground floor
except the portion over the front part of the hall was
converted into a central room. The ward rooms on the
upper floor each had a front door way leading on
to the front balcony which commanded a beautiful view of
Maitland and the rich agricultural plains around it
bounded by hills in every direction. Altogether
there were four wardrooms each 37 ft by 20; 6 rooms of
14 ft by 16ft; 2 rooms of 13 ft by 12ft; 4 rooms of 10ft
by 11ft; 4 closets; and one central room of 14 ft by 10
ft. In the whole building there were twelve fire places.
In the 1840's, surgical procedures were dreaded and used only as a
last resort. Anaesthetic was not in use until
1847. James Nimmo from the
Cooley Camp was unwilling to submit to an
operation although in the end he bore the operation with
great fortitude. He had met with an accident while
driving a cart when the wheel passed over his
loins, head and leg. It was found impracticable to set
his leg and so
decided to operate. Nimmo was transferred to Maitland
Hospital to await his fate. Also unwilling to
submit to amputation was an aborigine in 1847 who after
being admitted to Maitland Hospital for an amputation of
his arm after it was badly set by an 'unprofessional
man' decided to absent himself from the hospital.
Dr. Liddell, Dr Sloan and
arrived at the hospital with a formidable array of
instruments in readiness for the amputation to find their intended victim
missing, the dreadful prospect having proved too much
for his nerves, and induced him to make a bolt of it.
At the quarterly meeting
in October 1849 Dr. McCartney asked that the committee
consider preparing the new hospital immediately for
the reception of patients. The crowded state of the
present small and inadequate building (Hannan House) had
made it impossible to be kept in a proper state of
cleanliness. He urged that patients be moved to the new
hospital as a measure of humanity. The building
committee agreed to meet Mr.
Mortimer Lewis, the Clerk of Works
to finalise surveys, payments and finishing
details of the hospital and it was resolved to wait for
government assistance for the fitting of the hospital
with iron bedsteads and other necessary appliances.
Meanwhile new rugs and blankets could be procured so
that patients could be made as comfortable as possible
in the new hospital. It was proposed that patients would
be moved there on Wednesday 7th November.
The removal did not take place until the
following day when ten patients were moved from the old
hospital to the new building. Seven men were placed in
the large upper northern ward and three females in the
small lower wards. The visiting surgeon and other
medical men and the Acting Committee were present at the
opening. Unfortunately there were no funds available to
provide the patients with the full number of iron
bedsteads, however new bedding had been provided for
each patient and they were 'placed in great comfort'
compared with their quarters in the old building where
there were up to twenty seven patients housed in
overcrowded unfavourable sometimes vermin infested
conditions. Dr. McCartney had used 'Burnett's
disinfecting Fluid' and had made free use of it to
sweeten and improve the state of the old hospital but
the conditions created by overcrowding remained. In the
new hospital the wards were well ventilated and
convenient and the views from the balconies were said to
be very beautiful.
Treated at the
Benevolent Asylum in 1844:
Thomas Boyd -
Mr. Miller -
Jaundice, discharged to Newcastle.
Mr. Brannigan -
Mr. Smith - Old
age. In hospital at time of report
D. Flynn -
Mr. Dogerrty -
Inflammation of pericardium, discharged.
Walter Atkins -
Diseased heart , In hospital at time of report
- Stricture - sent to Sydney.
Mary Caddel -
Abscess , cured.
John Greenalth -
Diseased liver and dropsy, ran away
Mr. Crabtree -
Sent to Sydney
Aborigine, old age, died.
John Anson -
Ulcerated throat, outpatient
W. Fairley -
Abscess , In hospital at time of report
David Harley -
Old age, Sent to Sydney
T. McLennon -
Blindness and old age. Sent to Sydney
James Dogerty -
Inflammation of knee joint. In hospital at time of report
Mr. Duffield -
Disease of skin, In hospital at time of report
Mr. Golocar -
Indigestion, In hospital.
Notes & Links:
The Old Hospital
and the New - Maitland Weekly Mercury 25 March 1905 - Description of
the new hospital built in 1903.
Children's ward at Maitland Hospital in 1910
Maitland Hospital University of Newcastle Cultural Collections - Click to
A Town to
be laid out, Maitland 1829 - 1979