Capital and Coast District Health Board logo

Provision for children and nurses

It was soon realised that accommodation for nurses was required, as well as a dedicated ward for the care of children. Thus within a few years of the opening of the hospital, the first of many additions was built. This was a two-storey block at the west end of the main corridor. On the ground floor was a ward for 22 children and upstairs was accommodation for 21 nurses. The building was completed in 1888.

first addition - childrens ward and nurses accommodation

photograph courtesy Photographic Department, Wellington Hospital / Wellington School of Medicine

So this was how the hospital looked in 1890, with the new addition at the right of the photograph. By now there has been much growth in the gardens at the front of the hospital.

hospital in 1890

reproduced from the Wellington City Council Archives Collection

More adult beds required

It became clear soon enough that more beds were required to accommodate adult patients. Two more wards were planned, to be placed at the east end of the main corridor and extending to the north. These plans appear below.

ward 5 and 6 plansward 5 and 6 plans 2

plans courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa
 

When the new wards were opened in 1894, they were named ‘Fraser’ and ‘Allen’ after two respected members of the hospital board. However, these names didn’t remain in usage very long and were replaced with the designation wards 5 and 6 . An early view inside ward 5 is seen here – it was originally used as a male surgical ward.

inside ward 5

photograph courtesy Photographic Department, Wellington Hospital / Wellington School of Medicine

This photograph was taken in 1897. The corner of the block containing wards 5 and 6 is seen in the extreme left foreground.

1897 hospital

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa 

Better facilities for surgery

Surgery was originally performed in an operating / casualty room in the entrance block. By 1897 this had become quite inadequate. The medical staff met with the board chairman, following which an Operating Theatre committee was established. By September 1897 they had recommended that a new theatre block be sited between ward 5 and the two private wards to the west of the main entrance. However by January 1898 it was resolved to site the new theatre to the west of the main entrance block and in front of the private wards. The plans appear below.

main theatre floor plan

plan courtesy Wellington Hospital collection  

building the first operating theatre

 

 

 

 

The construction of the theatre block is seen at left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa  

The new theatre was opened on 20 December 1901 with due ceremony.

opening of new theatre

 

Here we see some of the dignitaries in attendance. Seated is the Governor, the Earl of Ranfurly and to his right is the chairman of the Board of Trustees, George Webb. The building was named the Victoria Operating Theatre in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee.

photograph courtesy Photographic Department, Wellington Hospital / Wellington School of Medicine 

 

 

Two photographs below show the interior of the operating theatre in 1901 and in 1903.

 inside theatreinside theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library,                                      photograph courtesy Photographic Department

National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa                         Wellington Hospital / Wellington School of Medicine

The completed block is seen in this 1901 photograph.

1901 hospital

photograph courtesy Photographic Department, Wellington Hospital / Wellington School of Medicine 

The first Nurses' Home

Inevitably the expansion of hospital services was accompanied by an increase in the number of nursing staff who required somewhere to live. Accordingly a large nurses’ home was erected to the north-east of the hospital. It opened in 1904.

old nurses home

photograph courtesy Photographic Department, Wellington Hospital / Wellington School of Medicine 

Here is another view of the nurses’ home as seen through the main gate which by now was situated on the Riddiford Street frontage.

old nurses home postcard

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

Victoria Hospital for the chronically incurable

A significant number of hospital patients required long-term stay and to cater for them the Victoria Hospital for the Chronically Incurable was built on the hill to the south-east of the main hospital, near to Mein Street.

Victoria Hospital

photograph courtesy Archives New Zealand Te Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga O Aotearoa

There were two wards, the interior of one is shown below.

inside Victoria hospital

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

Care for patients with pulmonary tuberculosis

Pulmonary tuberculosis had become a major health problem by the beginning of the twentieth century. To cater for the care of some of these patients, the Seddon Ward and Shelters were opened on the hill to the east of the hospital.

Seddon Ward and shelters

photograph courtesy Photographic Department, Wellington Hospital / Wellington School of Medicine

They were opened with some ceremony in 1906 with the Hospital Trustees in attendaance.

Back row: George London (and five others)

Front row: George Webb, R C Kirk, C M Luke, J Danks, C W Brown

In the background is a covered way connecting the Seddon Ward with the Victoria Hospital.

opening Seddon shelters and ward

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

Planning for long-term needs

Toward the end of 1907, the Board of Trustees realised that instead of improving the Hospital by an addition here and there as required, it would be wiser to consider a comprehensive scheme of improvements, which could be undertaken by degrees. In early 1908, it was decided to invite offers of competitive designs. One of the specifications was that designs needed to include provision for a Children's Hospital. Also, designs should allow for development in stages but leading to an integrated hospital when complete.

Many plans were submitted, and eventually, the first prize went to architects Messrs Atkins and Bacon. Sadly, their winning designs are not available.

Despite selection of a winning design for future hospital development, no further action could be taken for some time because of a lack of funds, and the hoped-for integration of future developments did not occur.

The Hospital in 1910

This photograph taken in 1910 looks across the hospital in a south-easterly direction. The Victoria Hospital and Seddon Shelters are visible beyond the main hospital.

1910 hospital

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

Another 1910 photograph looks across part of the hospital and shows a large unbuilt area to the west. The rather unattractive buildings leased by the Carrara Ceiling Company are seen towards Riddiford Street. Note the large white house in the foreground on Riddiford Street (with tradesmen up a ladder). This was where Dr Fred Bowerbank lived and practised at this time, though it would be a couple of more years before his appointment to the honorary visiting medical staff of the hospital. The building subsequently became the home and surgery of Dr William F Shirer and later was for many years the home of the ‘John Street Doctors’. 

1910 hospital

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

Another 1910 photograph looks across the hospital in a south-west direction and shows the increased development of Newtown by this time. The Victoria Hospital is at the centre far-left of the photo.

1910 hospital

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

The care of infectious fevers

The Fever Hospital was opened in 1910. This wasn’t the first accommodation for patients with infectious fevers however. There was a separate eight-bed fever ward, remote from the main building, in Toxward’s 1881 hospital. Then, in 1892 Wellington was hit by an outbreak of typhoid fever, and the “Hill Ward” housing up to 23 patients was hastily erected in corrugated iron.

This photograph shows the Fever Hospital under construction. Access was from Coromandel Street and there was provision for a separate nurses’ home and administration block.

building the fever hospital (Ewart)

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

The completed Fever Hospital, seen below, was later renamed ‘Ewart Hospital’ in honour of the very popular Surgeon Superintendent Dr John Ewart.

Ewart Hospital complete

photograph courtesy Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of NZ, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa

With ever growing numbers of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis, the Seddon Ward and Shelters became inadequate. A second storey was added to Ewart Hospital in 1919 and tuberculous patients transferred to Ewart Hospital from the Seddon Ward and Shelters. A new Fever Hospital was built right at the top of the hill to the east, opening in 1919. The photograph below shows the new fever Hospital as it was in 1926.

Fever Hospital

photograph courtesy Photographic Department, Wellington Hospital / Wellington School of Medicine

previous page - The First Newtown Hospital                                                                next page - The Children's Hospital

top

Last updated 22 September 2017.