Hospital Heyday

A Booklet to Celebrate Maitland Hospital’s Centenary

Dressed in well-pressed uniforms, a group of nurses formed a guard of honour outside the new Maitland Hospital outpatients wing on 7 November 1942. Proud to be present at such an historic event, the Governor of NSW, Lord Wakehurst and Lady Wakehurst began by inspecting the guard, then unveiled a plaque to commemorate the hospital’s centenary, and formally opened the new building. In the large gathering of invitees were the NSW Minister for Health and representatives of local governing bodies, patriotic and other organisations. All of them likely held a copy of this 12paged Maitland Hospital centenary booklet in their hands.

Those who flipped through its pages, while listening to the afternoon’s proceedings, must have been suitably impressed by the publications’ photographic prints separated by delicate leaves of blue waxed paper. The images featured the hospital at its best – art deco buildings, manicured gardens, and smiling patients in pristine and tidy wards, decorated with potted palms and cheerful vases of flowers. If one had to go to hospital in 1942, this was surely not such a bad place to be?

The booklet was published by Maitland Hospital for its centenary events, but it did not contain a history of the institutions’ previous 100 years. Instead, the carefully selected contemporary photographs reflect an intention to demonstrate far the institution had come towards creating a comfortable, clean and reliable health institution for the Maitland community.

With origins in the establishment of the Maitland Benevolent Asylum in 1842 in the Caroline Chisholm Immigrants Home, Maitland Hospital moved into the newly built hospital on Campbells Hill in 1849. Into the twentieth century, new buildings were built alongside alterations and adaptations, which were connected by awkward corridors and walkways, and the beautiful institution featured in the booklet lost some of its charm. In early 2022, the hospital moved to new premises at Metford.