Hutchinson Hospital East Terrace 6

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Fast Facts
Also known as: Gawler Health Service Incorporated, Gawler Supportive Care
Address: 6 East Terrace
Town or Locality: Gawler East
Year constructed: 1912
Year demolished or re-purposed: 1994
Built by: J T Quinn & Co of Hamley Bridge
Used for: Public Hospital
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The founding and maintaining of a hospital in Gawler was made possible by the funds from the estate of a Mr Thomas Hutchinson who died on the 30th of August 1901, and had been a resident of the town for over 50 years, serving as Town Inspector and later as a Councillor. The funds, approximately 10 Thousand Pounds, became available on the death of his wife on 12th April 1911. The family home in High Street was sold to provide the funds. The first Hospital Board was formed and at their first meeting on 28th August 1911 it was decided to purchase two acres of land, from a Mr Copley for 100 pounds, on an elevated site on East Terrace for the Hospital.

The well know Adelaide architect Mr Alfred Wells prepared the plans and on the 15th July 1912 a tender from J T Quinn & Co, of Hamley Bridge to erect the building at a cost of 3,346 pounds was accepted by the Board. This was actually the lowest tender.

At a meeting of the Hospital Board on the 27th September 1913, Sister Treuman the matron of the Pinnaroo District Hospital, and formerly from the Kapunda Hospital, was appointed as matron. There were nine applications for the position. At the same meeting a letter from the Chief Secretary indicated that the Government were prepared to match pound for pound any bequests or donations made towards the building and its management.

The Hutchinson Hospital was officially opened on the 19th November 1913 by Mr A J Murray with a silver key presented to him by Mr E H Coombe, the Chairman of the Hospital Board. The capital value of the buildings was 5,761 pounds, 10 shillings and 6 pence. The Hospital comprised two wards of four to five beds in each, an operating room, four bedrooms and other facilities.

On Sunday 23rd May 1937, Mr William Dawkins, aged 86, died in the Hutchinson Hospital. He was a former Gawler Mayor, and one of the original Trustees appointed to administer the will that provided for construction of the Hospital.

Over the years there were several other trusts established which were able to take advantage of the pound for pound offer made by the Government to assist in the operation of the Hospital: John Potts in 1915, James Commons in 1937, John Dingle in 1944 Lydia Helps in 1944 and Ann Magarey in 1947.

In September 1994 the name of the Hutchinson Hospital was changed to "Gawler Health Service Incorporated" and in October 1994 the board relocated its operations to the new public hospital. Proceeds from the sale of the Hutchinson Hospital were paid to the South Australian Health Commission to offset the cost of building and equipping the new public hospital.

For more photos relating to the Hutchinson Hospital, please click here.

Please <click here> to read 'The Hutchison Hospital Mural News' dated 2 December 2001.

Notes from Dr. Rupert Thornes presentation (2/7/2020)

History of Hutchinson Hospital 1911-1994.(83 years)

Adelaide 1836 Gawler 1839.-payment to Colonial treasury (Murray, Reid, King and others) of deposit allowed them to survey district - not exceeding 15000 acres and select up to 4000acres. Murray and Reid's chosen survey area was on the junction of N and S para rivers. (as advised by Col William Light) and considered an ideal site for a country town.

Thomas Hutchinson was born 1821 in Northumberland England and in 1849, aged 28 moved to Gawler briefly before heading to goldfields in Victoria where he made his money. • Returned to Gawler and with his wife lived the rest of his life off investment income. Had no children or dependents. Frugal lifestyle. • Held positions as town inspector - tree logs anecdote • Member of the council. • Involved in Gawler Benevolent society and in his quiet way relieved many cases of distress and poverty. Died August 29, 1901 - (age 79) left his estate, valued at £10000 for the establishment of a hospital in Gawler subsequent to the death of his wife. Mrs Hutchinson died April 11th, 1911.

Why a hospital? How was Health care delivered at this time? Essentially by private doctors and midwives. Doctors existed (Dr Morton, 1840s, Dr Nott 1852 (died 1872) and home taken over by Dr Dawes. - speaking tube - he had a 1908 de dion Buton) Son later took over the practice. Working out of homes - no surgeries. No public hospitals in the area. (Angaston hospital 1920) Dr Dawes had several beds in his home to accommodate the sick. Also had a dental chair. (Local anaesthesia - originally cocaine was used but less addictive Stovaine (1903) and Procaine 1904 used in dentistry) Also, Willows Hospital run by WH Scholz in Light Pass catering for fractures sprains and rheumatic disease Angels of Mercy- Nurses who travelled roads by horse bicycle and camel to attend sick and poor in the Gawler area. Worked in collaboration with doctors and later with the Hutchinson Hospital. (Mary Foster -the first Gawler Angel, opened first RDNS centennial in the area in 1899) Interestingly in 1910 life expectancy in Australia was 55 for women and 41 for men. (accidents TB and Typhoid commonest in 20-40 age group)

Quite inspirational thus that local hospital needed. (population at turn century about 1200) nearest hospital Adelaide (1 day by horse . Train line to Gawler in 1857 - allegedly took an hour but not a lot of frequency) Burning of Union Jack on first trip. Poor transport - railway to Adelaide. Few motor cars and not affordable. Poor communication- telephone line to Gawler but for wealthy Dangerous workplaces Not great affluence. Lots infectious diseases.

After [the] death [of his] wife things moved very rapidly

21/8/1911 First Board management appointed - EH Coombe MP (Gawler born, great sportsman and champion chess player, later became MP) as chair and SB Rudall as Secretary. (his son Reginald Rudall, also solicitor and trustee of hospital was 1911 Rhodes Scholar. Had 2 sons lost in WW2) Board included 3 local doctors’ amongst others) Decisions at first board meeting on 28/8/11.

1. Hutchinsons High St property not ideal site and decision to purchase 2 acres on East Terrace AWCopley for £100. Great views over the town. 2. Sub Committee formed and recommended - 2 wards of 4-5 beds, operation theatre isolation room, 4 bedrooms, kitchen, 2 bathrooms, lavatories 3. Plans submitted by Alfred Wells (Adelaide architect) and tender by J Quinn and Co. Hamley Bridge of £3346 accepted on 15/7/1912.(was cheapest) 4. 2/12/1912 Foundation stone laid by Governor Sir Day Bosanquet.

September 1913 first matron appointed - Elsie Trenaman appointed on £100/year - appointed from Pinaroo. Great person. (17-20 k dollars) At this time a letter from chief secretary to state that government would match £. for £ any bequests or donations for building or running hospital.

19/11/1913 hospital officially open for business. (interestingly, in The Register newspaper Weds 4 December 1912 it stated that “provision is made for 2 large wards 30x30 and 2 special wards to contain from 18-30 beds) 2 main wards- Duffield and Murray ( Duffield from UK, arrived SA 1839, one of first wine producers in Barossa, member parliament and built Para Para Mansion, owned the local flower mill) Capital value £5761_10_6. and had 2 wards -of 4-5 beds operating room, 4 bedrooms and kitchen,2 bathrooms etc.

Types of things as in patients Trauma, surgery, infection. People returning from Great War. Had anaesthetics - ether and chloroform, and morphine for pain. No antibiotics, no immunisation - 1 in 30 living birth children died due to gastro, diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough and measles. In 1914 5% mental institution inpatients and 60% aortic aneurysms due to tertiary syphilis, and 10% pregnant women tested +ve for disease ( washerman test) TB common, Polio, Diphtheria , Typhoid, Whooping cough, Gastro, Tetanus immunisation during ww1, Diphtheria and pertussis in interwar years

Care provided by visiting local GPs and nursing staff. All GPs competent surgeons. Sterile techniques in theatre were established at this time. This was mode of operation for rest of its time

In May 1915 Matron Trenaman left, volunteering for war service in Europe.

How was it financed? Government grants eg 1926 £500 for new maternity wing (at rear hospital) Patients paid Local benefactors - many over the years In 1918 Government paid 10 shillings and six pence / week to all pensioners after 28 days in hospital. Also in 1925 compulsory workers compensation paid.

1919 post WW1 Spanish flu - army supplied tents to Hutch to accommodate sick.( killed more people than died in war 50 million world wide -in Australia 40% population infected and 15000 died.)

1926 As area grew, need for maternity wing and this built with help of £500 government grant. ( Infant mortality100 deaths/1000 in 1900 ,5 in 2000) Home birthing prior to this.

1935 saw nursing quarters enlarged and hospital in serious financial position due to depression and people unable to pay accounts .

1942 defence dept took over general hospital, and civilians allocated to Maternity wing and night staff quarters. Ongoing problem with war saw hospital unable to purchase essential equipment in 1943 and in 1944 staff shortages saw volunteers helping to run hospital and serious financial difficulties Community support annual ball and community fete ( community support a feature of this era) 1957 Things improved and 11 acres purchased at rear hospital and new nurses home built

Then targeted for upgrade as Gawler area grew 1964 demand saw more additions, with new theatre block, bathrooms and toilets. Modern kitchen, (Photo) maternity block and geriatric ward. 1965 £96000 to build stage 1 -7 of the hospital 1966 saw £286860 for a further building programme 1967 saw SA Premier Don Dunstan lay stone to commemorate the rebuilding of Hutchinson Hospital 1969 A 76 bed hospital - most modern and best equipped in the state!!!

Serviced by many amazing nursing staff and doctors over the years - too many to mention, but Vin Rice still well remembered in the community and served the hospital for almost 30 years and was a first-rate surgeon. Dr John Coverton another GP who left the Hutch in 1949:to become an honorary paediatrician to ACH and later medical director - during his term he reduced infant mortality in SA to 15.49 deaths/1000- the lowest ever at that time.

It spanned a history of medicine Antibiotics developed - penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 but not introduced as treatment for bacterial infections until 40s. In the 1930s first commercially available antibiotic was Prontosil, a sulfonamide developed by Gerhard Domagk, a German biochemist. Vaccination - starting with tetanus vaccination in WW1 developed and had massive influence on infant mortality. Improved standards of living and better nutrition Improved communication.

My recollections.

Gawler 1982. - how I got the job.with H and Parthers. ( Harbison Deland, Brown and Partners, Glastonbury, and. Frank Graham ) Matron Mc Ghan lead the group. Amazing Matron. Knew the staff, patients and doctors. Great morale.Colleen Mann. Fellow GPS, G Hyde and J Harbison became great mentors, Dr Harb delivering 3 of our 4 children in the Hutch. What we did. Support - obstetrics Dr Cave. Communication - no mobile phones. We had a cordless enabling some movement around home. Surgery Jim Hyde. We did anaesthetics and minor surgery ( harb and I doing an appendectomy) In patients hospital and looked after own patients inward Own x rays after hours Funny times - caught in zipper Droopers ball. Sad times - telling child mum and dad dead. Drownings

Need to enlarge and upgrade by 1994 - more visiting specialists, more ancillary services and Gawler was very lucky to get anew hospital We are well services with respect to health needs.

View Dr. Rupert Thorne's address on Video - see below.


From the Bunyip newspaper 10 April 1914

It has been the policy of the Hutchinson Hospital Board in securing its furnishing and equipping requirements to obtain everything possible in Gawler and thus encourage local industry and trade. They have even had their mats and baskets manufactured in the town. It is not generally known that Mr. Walter Veale, of Gawler South, though handicapped by physical infirmity, has learned the art of producing these articles and can turn them out equal to the best. A large double brush mat 6ft x 4ft at the front door, with 'Hutchinson Hospital' worked in was much admired by members of the Board on Monday evening, and three other mats of the same type but smaller were equally meritorious. The clothes and bed baskets supplied by the same maker were also very satisfactory. The Board were also successful in securing several easy chairs which were made by a Gawler man, Mr. Webb.


Related Articles


  • The Register. Adelaide. Wednesday 17th July 1912. page 5
  • The Register. Adelaide. Wednesday 4th December 1912. page 9
  • The Register. Adelaide. Tuesday 30th September 1913. page 9
  • The Register. Adelaide. Friday 21st November 1913. page 5
  • The Advertiser. Adelaide. Tuesday 25th May 1937. page 20
Hutchinson Hospital c1920
Hutchinson Hospital c1920
Hutchinson Hospital, Kitchen c1967.
Hutchinson Hospital, Kitchen c1967.
Hutchinson Hospital, Horscroft Tumble Dryer.
Hutchinson Hospital, Horscroft Tumble Dryer.
Hutchinson Hospital, Drugs Cupboard.
Hutchinson Hospital, Drugs Cupboard.

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