Concord Hospital (Repatriation General Hospital)

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).

Concord Hospital (Repatriation General Hospital) foundations
Concord Hospital (Repatriation General Hospital) foundations
Concord Hospital (Repatriation General Hospital) old photo
Concord Hospital (Repatriation General Hospital) old photo

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.

Concord Hospital (Repatriation General Hospital)
Concord Hospital (Repatriation General Hospital)

One thought on Concord Hospital (Repatriation General Hospital)

  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *