Celebrating Daylesford Hospital: 160 Years of Serving the Community
The Daylesford Hospital has a long and distinguished record of serving the people of Daylesford and the surrounding districts.
A provisional committee was formed in January of 1861 to deal with all the transactions necessary to prepare for the construction of the Hospital. On 11 September of the same year, the Board of Lands and Survey advised the committee that a grant of five acres of land (on which the Hospital now stands) had been gazetted.
Tenders for the building of the centre and two wings were called, and on 26 October 1861, Messrs Bruce Bros. tender of 2020 pounds was accepted. Dr J P Hill was appointed the first House Surgeon in July 1862, and in the same month Mrs Lovelock was appointed Matron.
The next major step in the Hospital’s development was brought about by a specific bequest of 1,000 pounds from the estate of the Hon. W. E. Stanbridge, M.L.C. who expressed a wish in his Will for the erection of a female Ward. Messrs lnsby and Butler of Melbourne were appointed as Architects to draw up the plans for the new Female Wards, and tenders were called in 1896. The plans called for the removal of the Hospital roof and the building of two female Wards, and Nurses bedrooms, as the first floor of the existing building. The successful tenderer, Mr P Rodgers, commenced the work in 1896, and completed the contract in May 1897.
It was during this period that the Hon. Donald McLeod served this Hospital as President for 25 consecutive terms. Mr McLeod was first elected President in 1880, and remained in office until 1914. The Hospital was indeed fortunate to have the services and advice of such prominent men during the early part of its history.
After a period of remaining more or less static during the war and the years that followed, a general change took place in the organisation of charitable institutions. The Hospital was no longer a benevolent asylum solely for the use of the indigent and the dying. Medical science had advanced to such a degree that the Hospital had to be re-equipped and staff re-organised to cope with this advancement.
By 1935, it was evident to the Committee of the day that a major remodelling programme had to be considered if the Hospital was to conform with the new trends in hospital accommodation.
The Committee, of which Mr E Zelman was then President, waited upon the Charities Board, and were rewarded with a promise of a grant of 4,000 pounds. A Government loan of a further 4,000 pounds, repayable over a period of years, was also promised, enabling the Committee to proceed with the complete remodelling of the Wards, theatre and kitchen, at a cost of 8,000 pounds. As the years passed, there were times when it was felt that because of staff shortages the Hospital might have to close, but it managed to surmount these difficulties, and today is stronger, if anything, than at any time in its previous history.
The Nurses Home was completed in 1958 at a cost of 17,500 pounds and was opened on 7 December 1958, by the Chairman of the Hospitals and Charities Commission, Dr J H Lindell.
Stage One of the remodelling programme was completed in 1964, and the new Physiotherapy Block was opened by the hospital’s Senior Medical Officer, Dr JCM Harper on l0 May 1964. In more recent years, the Nurse’s Home was refurbished as a 12 bed Aged Care Hostel and is still operating as Lumeah Lodge today.
In the late 1980s, a further major refurbishment of the Hospital occurred and involved the development of a new Theatre Wing, 20 acute beds and 15 nursing home beds. This project was completed in 1980 at a cost of $1.3 million with the Government providing $950,000, the Hospital $100,000 and the balance being raised by the community.
Planning for a major redevelopment of the Daylesford Hospital and Community Health Centre was facilitated through a masterplan and feasibility study, which was completed in February 2000. Shortly after, architects Silver Thomas Hanley were appointed and the redevelopment work commenced. The project, completed in October 2003, comprised a refurbishment and expansion of the Community Health Centre; a new 30-bed Aged Residential Care Unit; and a major upgrade of the Acute facilities and birthing suite. The cost of the redevelopment was $6.2 million, of which the community contributed $500,000. The refurbished facilities were officially opened by Minister for Health, Bronwyn Pike on 4 December 2003.
Daylesford and Creswick Hospitals amalgamated on 1 January 1995, to form the Western Highlands Health Service. The HHS was formed on 1 April 1998 through the amalgamation of the Western Highlands Health Service, Trentham Bush Nursing Hospital and Clunes Health Service.
In November 2019, Kyneton District Health amalgamated with Hepburn Health Services to form Central Highlands Rural Health.
How it all began...
In January 1861, a provisional committee was formed with Mr James Daly, Police Magistrate, as Chairman. It was agreed the Committee be empowered to transact all business until such time as the erection of a hospital had been completed.
A total of 51 pounds was subscribed to the building fund by the members present, and a canvas of the town the following day raised a total of 109 pounds/3/-. On 11 September of the same year, the President of the Board of Lands and Survey advised the Committee that a grant of five acres of land (on which the hospital now stands) had been gazetted.
The Committee continued to meet regularly, and subsequently Mr Poeppel of Daylesford, was appointed as architect with his plans accepted. Tenders for the building of the Hospital centre and two wings were called, and on 26 October 1861, Messrs Bruce Bros.’ tender of 2020 pounds was accepted. The contractor was bound to complete the building by March of the following year.
James Daly, Esq., P.M. laid the Foundation Stone on 11 December 1861 and officially opened the Hospital on 22 May 1862. Unfortunately no-one today knows exactly where the foundation stone is located (usually placed at the north-west corner of a building). It is though by many to possible be under one of the Hospital buildings, however it is not known which one.
Source: Daylesford Historical Society: Daylesford Hospital, Celebrating 150 Years
The first meeting of subscribers was held 25 June 1862, when Mr James Daly was elected President, the Rev. M. Slattery and Mr J. Renwick Vice-Presidents, Mr McCausland Treasurer, and Mr G. Hart Secretary. The Committee comprised Mr Whiteford, Mr A. Johnson, Mr Jamieson, Rev E. Pryse, Mr G. Patterson and Mr Tourney. Dr J.P. Hill was appointed first House surgeon on 23 July 1862. At the meeting on 30 July 1862, Mrs Lovelock was appointed Matron, and Mr John Mulligan, Wardsman.
It is reported that at one stage in 1870 when the position of Wardsman was advertised, 53 applications were received,
including letters from Adelaide, Deniliquin, Swan Hill, Wangaratta, Geelong and many Melbourne suburbs as well as
local centres. Perhaps it was the salary of £80 that created such interest. The successful candidate and two others travelled to Daylesford by train for interview by the Selection Committee.
How long did the successful candidate keep his job after all that travel and selection process? A fortnight! Perhaps he found his duties relating to the care of the fowls and pigs less interesting that the cure of patients.
In the early 1890’s typhoid fever was prevalent amongst the miners of the district. The local Councils suggested that they provide a tent in the hospital grounds to house these “fever” patients. The Hospital Committee was not impressed with the suggestion, and they continued to treat certain fever cases within the institution while continuing negotiations with the local Councils.
It was not until 1892 that agreement was reached and the building of the original section of the “Fever or Isolation Ward” commenced. The next major step in the Hospital’s development was brought about by a specific bequest of £1,000 from the estate of the Hon. W.E. Stanbridge, M.L.C., who expressed a wish in his Will for the erection of a female ward. The Hon. W.E. Stanbridge was President of the Hospital from 1865 to 1867, and a member of the Legislative Council from 1881 to 1892. At the time of his death in 1894, he had been a resident of this district for upwards of forty years. Messrs Insby and Butler, of Melbourne, were appointed as Architects to draw up the plans for the new female wards, and tenders were called in 1896. The plans for the removal of the Hospital roof and the building of two female wards, and Nurses ’bedrooms, as the first floor of the existing building. The successful tenderer, Mr P. Rodgers, commenced the work in 1896, and completed the contract in May, 1897. The new wards were officially opened on 26 may 1897, by the Hon. Sir W.A. Zeal, M.L.C., President of the Legislative Council of Victoria. A marble Tablet was erected to commemorate this occasion, and may be seen today at the head of the stairway leading to this section of the building.
It was during this period that the Hon. Donald McLeod served this Hospital as President for twenty-five consecutive terms; 1890 to 1914. The Hospital was very fortunate to have the services of such prominent men during the early part of its history. After a period of remaining relatively static during the war and the years that followed, changes were required in the health service system. The Hospitals role and service requirements were reviewed. Medical science had advanced to such an extent that the Hospital had to be re-equipped and staff re-organised to cope with this advancement.
The Daylesford and surrounding community, in numerous formations, has always been a supporter and tireless fundraiser for the Hospital. Local Historians tell of wonderful fetes in the 1870s and beyond.
Images: Hon. Sir W.A. Zeal; Hon. W.E. Stanbridge; Hon. Donald McLeod and the marble tablet acknowledging Hon. William Stanbridge’s generous bequest that funded the female ward.