First baby born at the Women’s Hospital in Brisbane (1938)

First baby born at the new Women's Hospital, 26 March 1938. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 53863

First baby born at the new Women’s Hospital, 26 March 1938. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 53863

The first baby to be born at the new Women’s Hospital in Brisbane arrived on March 26, 1938. Five days later, the then minister for health and home affairs – and future Queensland premier – Ned Hanlon visited the new arrival and presented mother and baby with a 14-inch (35cm) silver loving cup to mark this important event (pictured above). The baby was also presented with a small silver drinking cup, silver porridge bowl and spoon.

Opening ceremony for Brisbane's new Women's Hospital. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201609

Opening ceremony for Brisbane’s new Women’s Hospital. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201609

The hospital’s official opening ceremony had taken place two weeks earlier on March 13, at which premier William Forgan Smith said, “The best investments a people can make are in health services, maternity services and child welfare. They are investments giving increasing dividends”. ┬áIn an editorial, The Courier-Mail boasted of the new facility that “a stranger who dropped from the clouds and found himself at the portals of the new Brisbane Women’s Hospital could be convinced, after less than an hour’s inspection, that he was in one of the most modern cities in the world”. But it would take almost a fortnight before patients could be admitted.

Royal Women's Hospital in Brisbane at the time of its opening 1938. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201610

Royal Women’s Hospital in Brisbane at the time of its opening 1938. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201610

According to The Courier-Mail: “It was necessary to cleanse and refumigate the whole place, repolish the floors, and remove fingermarks everywhere”, following the crowds who had passed through during the opening.

The hospital finally opened its doors to receive patients at midnight on March 25 with “a large staff of trained nurses”. The first patient did not arrive until 2.56am.

Maternity ward at the new Women's Hospital Brisbane March 1938. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 54380

Maternity ward at the new Women’s Hospital Brisbane March 1938. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 54380

Nursing staff signing on for the first shift at the Women's Hospital in Brisbane 1938. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 53867

Nursing staff signing on for the first shift at the Women’s Hospital in Brisbane 1938. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 53867

Then, at 3.15am, a second patient was admitted, a Mrs Mollie Kirkwood, whose baby girl, Noela Margaret, became the celebrated “first baby” of the hospital.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland