On May 19, 1951, the 20-bed Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital was officially opened.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
A 1500 strong crowd turned out for the ceremony, which also featured Dr Frederick Rodway.
Dr Rodway had worked in the Nowra community for 38 years and was invited to turn the key and symbolically open the door.
He went one step further throwing the key into the crowd, saying the hospital ward would “remain open to give medical and surgical relief to all who require it, at any hour of day or night”.
The Shoalhaven and Nowra News reported that, “at last Nowra and District can boast of a public hospital plus maternity ward”.
The 20-bed hospital was intended only as a temporary solution, with room left at the front of the land to build a promised 60-bed hospital.
From its early days, Nowra had a number of private hospitals, but as Berry had a public hospital – opened in 1909 – another at Nowra was considered unnecessary.
The influenza outbreak which followed WWI, highlighted the need for a public hospital.
When the epidemic began to ease, Mayor William Holloway called a public meeting, where Dr Rodway called for the building of a cottage hospital of two wards, with living quarters for staff.
It would also serve as a memorial to Shoalhaven servicemen killed in the war.
The Shoalhaven branch of the Red Cross supported the project and over the next few years, carried our fundraising. However, the proposal was abandoned and the 10,000 pounds raised for the hospital was redirected into a grand entrance to Nowra Showground.
In 1942, a small committee was formed and the idea for a pubic hospital was again on the agenda.
The committee included Prince of Wales Hotel licensee Walter Watson, who was said to have “laboured unceasingly for the establishment of such an institution” for the next decade.
A ladies’ auxiliary was formed in 1946, and it was again decided the hospital would stand as a war memorial. The board, however, made little progress lobbying health ministers and another public meeting was held in May 1949, where more than 500 people attended.
In a dramatic call to action, the committee displayed a sign on the northern approach to Nowra stating “Drive carefully. You are now entering Nowra, the largest country town in NSW without a public hospital. Death is so permanent”.
When it was announced the private hospital on Bridge Road would close, a decision was finally made to build a public hospital. In December 1949, it was announced that 45,000 pounds was set aside to build it, and Mr Watson turned the fist sod in April 1950.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.