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.
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”. In 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.
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.
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