5 Historic Sydney Hospitals

Sydney Eye Hospital (Woolloomooloo)

The current Sydney Eye Hospital sits next to Parliament House on Macquarie Street but it’s former site used to call Woolloomooloo home. The V-shaped pale building oozes character and still stands proudly despite the modern luxury developments that have sprouted around it.

In it’s debut year 3000 patients presented at the Casualty Department of the ophthalmic hospital and by 1981 it hit 75,000. Before it became a hospital it had multiple uses such as a coffee palace, hotel and allegedly as a brothel.

sydney eye hospital

Rachel Forster Hospital (Redfern)

Opening in 1941 the hospital had the esteemed honour of being the first clinical education site to teach medical students in Australia. It housed specialty clinics, eventually a breast cancer research centre and the feared venereal disease clinic.

Sadly the site has remained untouched since 2000 despite applications to build a huge residential development with recent photographer visits showing an eerie interior; graffiti, old medical signs and patient records strewn throughout.

rachel forster hospital 1944

La Perouse Old Coast Hospital (later Prince Henry Hospital) (Little Bay)

The Coast Hospital was the reactionary solution to smallpox endemics in the late 19th Century, specifically those that came from the North Head Quarantine Station (read more here about the Doctors at that site).

It was officially the first public hospital in NSW, situated on the north head of Botany Bay. Later in 1934 it was renamed the Prince Henry Hospital to commemorate the Royal’s Australian visit.

Just a couple of kilometres further north the Nursing and Medical Museum displays historic instruments, uniform, photos and much more from the former facility.

Coast Hospital

Royal South Sydney Hospital (Zetland)

After 4 years of fundraising and campaigning by South Sydney residents, and even the election of a future Hospital President, the facility began construction in 1912 and opened in 1913.

By 1917 the 25 beds became 110 and it was to public dismay when the hospital began to specialize in rehabilitation, orthopaedics and community health in 1976, a sign that it was winding down.

By 1991 it merged with two others including Prince of Wales Hospital and finally bowed out in 2003 when the only remaining service was Community Health.

royal south sydney hospital

Sydney “Rum” Hospital (Macquarie St.)

This legendary facility was built almost 200 years ago in the young colony to help treat common ailments such as dysentry and scurvy.

The authorities thought of a unique method of payment; they offered the builders the chance to import and keep the profits from 60,000 gallons of rum.

Records show the building standards used were poor and it was a wonder it did not fall down. The majority of the site was eventually demolished and replaced by the current Sydney Eye Hospital.


Other old sites to check out…

St Vincent’s Hospital (Potts Point)

Callan Park Mental Hospital / Rozelle Hospital (Rozelle)

Gladesville Mental Hospital / Tarbarn Creek Lunatic Asylum (Gladesville)

By Terry Cornick

Writer – Terry The Tourist – www.terrythetourist.com / @telthetourist

Healthcare Consultant – Doctor Recruitment – BLUGIBBON – www.blugibbon.com / @blugibbon

Mental Health Advocate – MR. PERFECT – www.misterperfect.com.au / @mrperfectau

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