This hospital continues the link with the Walker family as it was built on land acquired from Dame Eadith’s estate and the building was awarded the Sulman Prize for Architecture in 1946.
This block was originally granted to James Williamson in 1798 as part of the grant he named Rocky Point. It later passed to a Mr. Levy and became known as “The Folly” or “Levy’s Folly”. Rumour has it that when Mr. Levy was building his home, as there was no fresh water in the area, he mixed his mortar with salt water. When the house was almost built, the mortar, which would not dry, fell out and the building collapsed. According to history, Levy tried once again to build his home but made the same mistake and suffered the same consequence.
The area occupied by the hospital was once part of “Yaralla”. Following the death of Dame Eadith Walker, half the estate was placed in a charitable trust fund; management of which was defined in the Walker Trust Act of 1938. Administration was vested in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital to run both the Thomas and Dame Eadith Walker Convalescent Hospitals.
Soon after the outbreak of Word War II, the Federal Government sought a site to build a hospital for the 2nd Military Division. Agreement was reached with the State Government for the purchase of 40 hectares located between the two Walker hospitals.
Construction of the 600 bed Military Hospital was commenced towards the end of 1940 (the block of wards 1 to 8).
Dr. William Wood, with rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was appointed as Commanding officer on 6th December, 1940.
The hospital was opened on 11th March, 1941 as the 113th A.G.H. (Australian General Hospital), American and Filipino troops were admitted to the hospital with the spread of war to the Pacific region. In 1947, the hospital was transferred to the Repatriation Commission and continued to be operated through the Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs with admission for ex servicemen and the general public
The first patient (first indeed, but 19 others came in later on the same day) was admitted on 7th March, 1941. (These were admitted to Wards 1 and 2, which were the only wards capable of operating at that time.)
Other wards of this block of wards (Wards 1 to 8) must have begun to fill on the 11th March, 1941, for several of the old staff have regarded that day as “commencement” day.
The official opening was on 26th April, 1941, with all 8 Wards of that Block in Operation.
The multi-storey building was completed in 1942 and the architects, Stephenson and Turner, were awarded the Sulman Memorial Prize in Architecture for merit.
The interesting link that this award has with Concord’s history is that the Thomas Walker Memorial Hospital complex, the additions to Yaralla House in the 1890s and Yaralla Cottages are major works of the young John Sulman. He was knighted in 1942 and Lady Sulman, whom he married when he was involved in these projects, was the adopted daughter of Miss Joanna Walker, childhood companion of Eadith Walker at Yaralla.
The 113th Australian General Hospital became the “Repatriation General Hospital, Concord” on 19th May, 1947 and was the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere with over 2000 beds.
Integration with the State system took place on 1st July, 1993 and became the legacy from the veteran community to the people.
On a warm afternoon around October 1939 as a pupil at the nearby Concord West Primary School my wandering attention was distracted by the sound of heavy machinery from the area of the Yaralla estate off Hospital Road. I found later on that this was the first preparation for what became known as the 113th AGH and this activity was only a few weeks after the declaration of war!
As the building of a hospital is a very large undertaking (it was still being built all during the war) I would love to know when the planning for it started.
Concord Hospital is the greatest of all. I trained there, graduating as a registered nurse in 1964, when veils were still worn . I spent my whole working life there, in the operating rooms, retiring on medical grounds in 1998. I loved the place, and I’m so proud of it. My late Mother worked at Top Ryde, in a shoe shop during WW2, and vividly remembered the erection of the extraordinary hospital building rising, in the midst of suburban Concord.
My dad was a patient at Concord Repat in the early 1950s. He was there quite a lot over the course of a few years and I have a few photos of him and various buildings there at that time. I guess the pics were taken by mum, as she was there almost every day. She spoke about this period a lot, particularly the cameradery between patients and families and the highs and lows that they shared.
I worked in the Post Office at repat hospital in 1954 and would very much like to obtain a photo of the building which I recall was an ex army hut located on the left hand side of the building
My great aunt, Marry “Molly” Braithwaite retired from long service at Concord Repat., as I’ve always heard it referred, as Asst. Matron in the mid 1960’s. I’m not certain if aunty Molly served over seas during WW2 & would love to know more about her career. I remember visiting her at the nurses home several times as a small girl on several occassion. Her older sisters, Margaret & Marjorie Braithwaite may have also served as nurses at Concord. As a result of having nursed him at Concord, Marjorie married Dudley Perkins in the 1950’s, I believe. I would be most grateful for any info about these treasured Aussie nurses.
My grandfather, a WW1 veteran married to Margaret, Marjorie & Molly’s sister Marcia, was a patient at Concord on several occassions in the 1950/60’s.
I remember Sister Braithwaite very well.
My time at Concord
I started training as a registered nurse at Concord in 1976. I was 18. I was a registered nurse at 21. I think our training group was 119! I might be wrong. There were I think 20 ish ramp wards at the time. Medical respiratory, a renal dialysis ward, psychiatry wards and ramp wards that had been changed into physiotherapy wards. I worked in the renal ward at the time of the Granville Train Accident and nurses a young girl who had been in the accident and required renal dialysis. I would have liked to have know how she progressed.
The main building were the more critical wards. While I worked there it became Repatriation General Hospital. A accident and emergency was built and opened. A very modern burns section was added too. We went to Camperdown Children’s Hospital for paediatric. We had no children’s wards.
The main building was built in a T. The stairs and lifts in the centre and 3 wards going off three ways. Level 1 to 6. Wards 110. 120, 130 and so forth. To level 6. Wards 610, 620, 630. Each ward either male or Female. No mixing. I still find the mixed wards difficult to accept. We had plenty of staff, plenty of resources. We worked hard, but there was always backup when required. And we were very well trained. I loved my trading and couldn’t believe how archaic Wollongong hospital felt when I moved to Wollongong.
The CCU and Step down all had modern equipment having been a repatriation hospital for returned vets. That was in the days when they were respected. It discussed me today to see how lowly vets are treated.
I followed by doing Midwifery, the had three children and worked here and there in between then did a post grad degree in education and manage to. Ended in working as Clinical Finance Manager ILLAWARRA Area Health. Then worked for a stint at Wollongong Uni and then running the AIN courses. The last 10 years I worked with Sanofi in their Cardiac and then Diabetes. I have been retired now for 4 years with four grandchildren . 2 boys 2 girls aged 9 8 8 7. Yet still concord holds fond memories.
I often wonder if there is a reunion committee, it would be great to catch up. I remember running into Greg Keen running a children’s ward in Haematology years later, and Julie Lancôme (Gray) moved to Wollongong and we caught up for what are now “play dates” for our kids.
And, for now retired and travelling. China Russia uk Greece Italy France Slovenia Germany (Spain & Morocco next). We hope next year. Hopefully when the word is a bit healthier.
My time at concord repat.
Alison Gardener Brooks
I worked there as a nurse aid in the 60’s. I remember Sisters Braithwaite, Malone & Allen. Worked a lot with Sr Allen. Worked mainly in ramp wards but had stints in CSD & in theatre. I met my first husband there.
I trained at RGHC too 1977-1980. Also worked in renal ward 2 and renal dialysis ward 1.
Any more comments on Concord Hospital from employees past and present?
I have a beautiful aerial photo of Concord Hospital on my lounge room wall. When I look at it, fond memories flood back. I have no bad memories at all of my thirty-seven years there.
Remember Dr Ross Dunn anyone? A brilliant general surgeon. He became a father figure to me. He was a wonderful man – a major during WW2. His wife Aileen (née Sherwood, whom he called “Sherry”) was a former captain in WW2.
I trained there from 1982-1985. I’ll never forget Jan Bell (our PTS Sister) and feeling the wrath of Miss Napier as a student; hard as steel but one of the fairest women I have ever met.
Jan is still there, taking care of the Nurses Museum.
Amazing to hear that Jan Bell is still there and lovely to see Lynne Redknap’s posts. I graduated from Concord in 1985 and remember fondly study block with Jan in charge. We had do go to Hawkesbury Agricultural College for some of it. The beginnings of Nursing moving to Tertiary Education. When I worked in Operating Rooms, Lynne was such a great role model. I always have great memories of my time at Concord.
Spent 10 years(1984 to 94) at Concord hospital in ICU. Avis Hart was my manager. And Peter Lawrence and Krish were the consultants. Did the ICU certificate in 1986. Made many friends whom I still see. So many memorable times. Strathfied shooting, major burns,patients falling onto kitchen roof, fire in nurses home started by our own security person.Bomb scare causing mass hosp evacuation onto the bowling green.. Oh and who could forget Tom from the shop over the road. And. I learnt so much in ICU. Thanks everyone..
Hi, I was on the last group of trainee enrolled nurses. I lived in the nurses home for 2 years 1987-1990. I remember the fire in the nurses home. I used to visit the floors that were closed off. I remember the shop across the road. I remember taking the lift to the basement.. then walking in a tunnel to the wards. I worked in ward 530 medical for 1 year after training. The NUM was lovely. Indian or from Pakistan I think.
I also remember the roof of the nurses home. Use to look out from it, while doing my clothes washing.
My mother was an unskilled girl from Narrandera, so when she enlisted in WWII the Army posted her to Concord Repat to work in the Kitchen/Cafeteria. She passed away last year at the age of 95 – her name was Edna Turner. Long shot, but anyone know of her?
I also did my training at Concord. Group 115, started in January 1975. Registered nurse in 1977/78. Loved my time there. Continued to work there in the Endoscopy Unit.
Ruth Tate (Colbron)
How lovely to read these comments. I have had a connection with Concord since 1948 when my father spent 4 years in Ward 32 (TB ward) . I trained in Group 49, 1960 under the “apprentice” system, worked as an RN for a bit then went abroad. I returned a couple of times to Concord and collected a couple of degrees along the way. Nursing is the best career and I always encourage young people in these terms. I do remember your references Robyn and Lyn and also when the prison escapees were captured at the main gate.
Dorelle (Hughes, Duggan) Purcell (that’s enough names).
I have loved reading your comments , I am looking for a gentleman that used to be a nurses aide in 1976 – Name Stephen Hodges , if there is anyone who knows his whereabouts I would love to connect
Some great memories shared here. I was a student Enrolled Nurse in the last year of hospital based training in 1987 before the course went to TAFE. I also have fond memories of my time at Concord Repat. I was also there at the time of the bomb scares and evacuations and remember being woken up in the nurses home in the middle of the night by security and being evacuated to the canteen area. I remember the EN Nurse Educators at that time, Cootje Kroon, Kay Gittens and Fran Middleton who were fantastic. The Director of Nursing at that time was Clifford Buchannan and Deputy Director Sr. Frost. I remember Cliffy (Clifford Buchanan) speaking to our group 2/87 on the first day of training. He explained how we could all go far and wide within our nursing career and how he began as a Wardsman, then became an AIN, then became an EN, and finally went onto RN and Director of Nursing! He explained how this gave him a thourough understanding of everybody’s roles within the structure of nursing which is invaluable! I thought to myself at that time, I had myself previously began as a Wardsman and then became an AIN and I was about to start my EN training, and that maybe I could end up doing the same as he – which over time is exactly what I did do. I can thank him for showing me that anything is possible. “RGH Concord” was a wonderful environment to train within to become a Nurse – I will always remember “Concord” fondly.
It has been interesting reading about the 113th AGH. I have a good friend Gwendoline Margaret Cooper known as Penny who joined the RAAF and worked there during the 1940’s. She will be celebrating her 100th Birthday on Friday 24/6/2022 and has had a wonderfully interesting life. She married Lloyd Arnold Halliday an RAAF Officer who was a veteran. 1922- 2020. I know she loved her time there.
Ive emjoyed reading as I also did my Nursing Aide course there It would be nice to know whay has happened to the Sisters most were returned War serving Nurses also Matron Farthing. Sister Anderson ward 5 Sister Allen Ward 7 Sister Braithwaite ward 8 so many they of course woulfnt be around now as Im in my early eighties but perhaps Aides Nerida and Gwenda both from Bathurst were good friends Sister Veronica Dunner Qld we are still in contact
What wonderful stories. I trained at Concord 1975-1978 Group 117. Married my husband in 1983 who I met when he was an intern( and he is still there)!
Together we have such wonderful memories and of course continue to make great memories!!
Sr Napier was my first charge nurse in 610 and together with Sr Mary Ryan instilled in me a love of surgical nursing and hard work!
Helen Peters( née Purcell)
I trained from 1973 to 1976. I fell pregnant with baby son (Tane, now 37) so I finished a bit later. I trained with Julie Englert and Mathhew Ramjam and Anthony Brammel and Brenda Jolley who became my bridesmaid.
Donna Bragg nee Dodd