Hospital’s history among host of heritage events

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With a lineage stretching back 175 years, Whanganui Hospital was a must to be part of Whanganui’s upcoming Heritage Month, and it will host an event on Saturday, August 10.

 

The celebration of European and Māori built heritage runs from August 2 to September 15, and includes the marking of the 100-year anniversaries of the Sarjeant Gallery and Durie Hill elevator.

 

Hospital services, however, pre-date them both, with missionary Rev Richard Taylor setting up the first hospital at Putiki in 1844, with Dr George Rees appointed its Native Medical Officer that year.

 

This was followed by military hospitals at the Rutland Stockade, built in 1847, and in Ridgway Street (1849), and then by the Colonial Hospital built in St George’s Gate by the river, which opened with 26 beds.

 

The present Whanganui Hospital site, covering 33 acres, was bought for 800 pounds, and the facility was opened by New Zealand Prime Minister Richard Seddon on March 12, 1897.

It comprised three wards, 68 beds and a two-storeyed administration block, and in the more than 120 years since it has continued to expand and develop to encompass a vast array of services.

 

On Saturday, August 10, to mark its long history and celebrate Whanganui Heritage Month, the public will be able to follow the story of the hospital through a tour of the main corridors featuring a series of historic photos.

 

It is a free tour, on offer between 10am and 2pm, and there will be volunteer guides to assist.

 

A black and white group photo of nursing staff all wearing white, from the early 1990s

The nursing staff lineup from the early 1900s.Whanganui Hospital which was opened in March 1897The nursing staff lineup from the early 1900s.Whanganui Hospital which was opened in March 1897

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The nursing staff lineup from the early 1900s.Whanganui Hospital which was opened in March 1897The nursing staff lineup from the early 1900s.Whanganui Hospital which was opened in March 1897