Early role of midwives

EARLY HOSPITAL: Matron Felmingham, on the left, at her Ormonde Private Hospital. Note the dog!
EARLY HOSPITAL: Matron Felmingham, on the left, at her Ormonde Private Hospital. Note the dog!

Very few births occurred in our museum building when it was a hospital as only emergency maternity cases would have been admitted to what is now the Celtic Room.

In his article 'Midwife and Private Hospital Care in Glen Innes' Graham Wilson OAM wrote:

"In country areas midwives played a significant role in providing care for expectant mothers.

"Whilst they had little medical training many were experienced mothers and had practical experience in caring for children.

"Midwives still offered services even after public hospitals were opened in country towns.

"In early days midwives would ride out to properties to assist in childbirth and later the countrywomen would travel to the local town.

"It was there that the midwives offered private homes for the period of confinement as the mother waited for the arrival of the child."

This comes from Land of the Beardies History House Bulletin, No. 40, June 2013.

(Our resources include an index of early midwives and the children they delivered).

Private hospitals in Glen Innes included:

  • 'Bide-a-Wee', Church Street - M Drusilla Taylor; 'Ormonde Private Hospital, Macquarie Street - Matron Felmingham; 'Lidney' Torrington Street - Nurse Hickey;
  • 'Carrington House ' Meade Street - Nurse Whitthorn; Warlter Street Hospital, Florence Ashe;' The Retreat' - Nurse Ann Healy; Dr Kenny and Dr Cope's Private Hospital;
  • 'Somerset', 79 Lambeth St -Nurser Murray.(This was given to the historical society, but it unfortunately burnt down and was re-built).
  • Wyalla, Lang Street - Nurse Alice Matilda Robinson; 'Halcyon' in Meade Street, run by Matron Berman was opposite Dalhousie run by Matron Eyre.

Dr Fred Buddee bought 'Dalhousie' in the 1930s and it became a maternity annexe to the general hospital until 1956 when the new Hospital included a Maternity Wing.

The Dalhousie building burnt down in 1979 and its site is now the parking area for Roseneath Aged Care Centre.

Often the only payment for the confinement was the baby bonus of £5 brought in in late 1912 'to help mothers in their time of need, and also to increase birth and infant survival rates in the country'.

The CWA Mountain Home in Wentworth Street accommodated mothers-to-be, particularly from the hot western areas prior to confinement. I stayed there with my mother prior to my sister's birth in 1946, as we then lived at Bukkulla.

  • Eve Chappell is the manager of the History House Museum