How many hospitals has Mudgee had? The answer is probably more than you think. With construction of the next Mudgee Hospital storming ahead now is an opportune time to take a look at the history of some of the town’s private hospitals.
Taking matters into their own hands
There was public outcry in 1901 following the shocking death of a man after five days of suffering because his doctor couldn’t admit him.
The growing need for more hospital care led to the establishment of a number of private hospitals in Mudgee.
One of the first was opened by Nurse Faris in Gladstone Street, along with several others also started by nurses in the first decade of the last century.
Prior to that period Dr King established a private hospital in 1842, located in Mortimer Street opposite the Presbyterian Church.
Some of the later facilities included; Rexton, Douro Street, which operated as hospital for some 30 years; Braeholme, current site of Pioneer House; and Broughton, Short Street, which was used until the mid-1940s.
In a letter to the Mudgee Guardian following a history piece in 2001, a Mr B Roberts said Mudgee’s three private ‘maternity-surgical-general hospitals’ welcomed many babies over the years.
“As a result, many little boys were called Rexton, Broughton and Braeholme,” his letter read.
“One baby whose mother’s doctor was Dr Marjory Tunley of Gulgong, but due to some birth complications the baby was born in Braeholme Hospital, Mudgee. In all fairness to doctor and hospital the baby boy was called Braeholme-Tunley.”
He went on to say that in Mudgee Hospital’s early years it wasn’t a maternity hospital, leaving it to the private facilities to pick up the slack.
However, Mr Roberts noted that “I don’t think any babies were called Bank Cottage or Kingiara, after two earlier private hospitals in Mudgee”.
Where are they now?
In 1916 Braeholme Private Hospital was built by Stoddarts and Sons on the corner of Court and Gladstone streets, started by Matron Constance Ogden.
It ran for many years as a maternity and general hospital and had an operating theatre. And it also offered nursing home services – in something of a look at the future of the site.
Matron Ogden was succeeded by Matron McBrair and following the departure of the latter the site was sold to the Presbyterian Church who turned it into a boy’s hostel in the 1950s, before it functioned the men’s boarding house “Agincourt Guesthouse” until 1964.
At the first meeting of the Mudgee and District Senior Citizens’ Welfare Association in April 1962 the goal to establish a home for the aged and semi-invalid people of the area was set and the purchase of Agincourt Guesthouse followed. It opened as Pioneer House in 1965.
The former Broughton Private Hospital would meet a very different fate.
The building, located opposite the Mudgee pool, was sold in 1946 and became a home before being converted to flats in the 1950s. Local historian John Broadley wrote in the Mudgee Guardian that the original layout of the hospital could still be detected, with the operating theatre in the north-eastern corner becoming the kitchen for Flat 1.
It was knocked down in 2002, with the structural report prepared for the demolition noting that Broughton House – as it would become known in its post-hospital years – was “beyond redemption”. Rising damp, cracks in the walls, and a leaking roof had weakened the building, leading to its inevitable end.
This article was produced from the Mudgee Guardian/The Weekly archives and with thanks to the Mudgee Historical Society. It is the second of four installments on the history of the local hospital with the next taking a look at the Mudgee Hospital that the current facility replaced.
Read Part One about the role Mudgee played in nursing here.