On 31 March 1983, the New South Wales Labour Government administered the coup de grace to a Sydney icon, the Women’s Hospital Crown Street. To fund new hospital facilities in Sydney’s west, Premier Neville Wran and Health Minister Laurie Brereton closed down inner city hospitals. The closure of Crown Street, as it was known, created great controversy and was met with resistance from the staff and public, particularly those who had had babies there.
From a modest beginning in Hay Street opposite Belmore Park on 16 October 1893, Crown Street grew to become the largest maternity hospital in NSW, delivering 6553 babies in 1972. On 9 March 1983, the last nurses’ graduation ceremony was held, having trained 6705 midwives in its 90 years; the same day the last baby, the 273,569th, was delivered. Crown Street had trained most of the state’s obstetricians and become worwld famous for its successful treatment and prevention of eclampsia.
Following its closure, there was no official history written until 2009, when the late Dr Struan Robertson, who had spent his career associated with the hospital and was its last Chairman of the Medical Staff, provided seeding finance. Dr Judith Godden, a professional historian, commenced writing and, by 2013, the book was finished and accepted for publication by Allen & Unwin. However, the unexpected death of Struan in February 2012 led to various problems that were not resolved until 2016. Publication then proceeded due to the generosity of many donors, particularly College Fellows who had trained there, with Drs Ian Brake, Peter Crowe, Peter Hammill, Chester Kent and David Woodhouse making significant contributions.
The book was launched at the State Library of New South Wales by Prof Steven Garton, the Provost of Sydney University, on Thursday 9 February, 2017 to a capacity audience and record sales were made on the night.
The book may be purchased below retail price by contacting Dr Judith Godden at [email protected]. She will sign it and post it for $40.00. If you require any further details, please contact the College.