– 150 years of history at The Royal Children’s Hospital –

A concise and chronological record of the rich and diverse 150-year history of The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH).
Please feel free to scroll through all 150 years or easily filter information via categories or tags.

The historical images have been sourced from the RCH Archives and Collections, unless stated otherwise.
Images have been chosen to illustrate the subject matter and may not necessarily reflect the date of the event.

The RCH has produced such an immense amount of groundbreaking achievements and we cannot assume to have captured them all here.
Do you think an achievement, person, or event is missing? Please send your suggestion to: archives@rch.org.au. We hope you enjoy exploring!

Showing Events Tagged with: The Melbourne Hospital for Sick Children

1873
Matron Marion Harvey
Harvey was appointed the new role of matron. She had a staff of two nurses; Head Nurse Mrs Bail and Assistant Nurse Anna Ford.
Relocation to 13 Spring Street
October 1873
The hospital moved to a larger premises with space for 15 beds. The name was changed to Melbourne Hospital for Sick Children.
1874
1875
Matron Sarah Anne Bishop
Appointed as matron, Bishop worked in the role until 1899. She had a significant influence on the hospital in its formative years.
Purchase of Sir Redmond Barry’s House
In response to the increased need for larger premises, the Committee of Management purchased Barry’s house in Carlton for £10,000.
1876
Move to Carlton Premises
The new hospital, with space for 24 beds, was opened by Sir George and Lady Bowen.
First Resident Doctor
The committee decided to create a paid position for a resident doctor. The honorary doctor positions were unpaid, usually held by doctors with their own private practice. The first resident doctor was Dr W.E. Stewart, soon replaced by Dr Charles Hunter.
1878
Dr William Snowball
Dr Snowball was appointed resident doctor in 1878 and stayed in the role until 1882. Snowball came to be regarded as the father of Australian paediatrics. He retained an honorary position until his death in 1902.
1879
John Jackson Appointed to the Role of Collector
The collector role was somewhat closer to hospital manager. Jackson proved an effective fundraiser and greatly expanded the hospital’s avenues for funding and subscriptions.
1881
Hospital Bazaar
£4000 were raised to pay off remaining debt from the purchase of the Redmond Barry property.
1882
Dr Peter Bennie
Dr Bennie was appointed an honorary position and remained an active member of hospital staff for 36 years. He also lectured in medicine at the University of Melbourne.
1885
Elizabeth Testar
Elected as President of the Committee, Testar took a leading role in building, planning and expansion of the hospital.
1886
Nurse Rose Vaughan
Vaughan trained at the Children’s and her training notes still exist today.
Image credit: Alvin Aquino
1887
Dr Arthur Jeffreys Wood
Appointed as resident doctor, then made an honorary staff member in 1893, Wood stayed in the role until 1921. He maintained a consultancy position at the hospital until his death in 1937. His research on the ill-effect of bad milk resulted in the prevention of many infant deaths.
Nurse Training School Officially Recognised
Training has long been an important facet of the hospital’s operations, especially in the early years when paediatric care was still developing as a specialty discipline.
1888
Nurse Grace Jennings Carmichael
Carmichael began nurse training at the Children’s. She was a published poet and her time at the hospital inspired many writings.
Dr Richard Stawell
Appointed as resident, then honorary staff member from 1893, Stawell retained a position at the hospital until 1914. He was a highly regarded teacher who attracted many medical students to the hospital.
1889
Nurse Training Given an Overhaul
Formal lectures and examinations were introduced, with badges and certificates awarded to successful trainees.
1892
Dr Hamilton Russell
New appointee as honorary staff member, Russell was active at the hospital on-and-off until 1925.
1893
Dr Alan Mackay
New appointee as honorary medical officer, active at the hospital until 1920.
Australian Financial Crisis
Steep pay cuts for hospital staff.
Change to the Infectious Diseases Policy
Diphtheria and scarlet fever patients were treated as outpatients - they had previously been refused care due to risk of contagion.
1895
1896
Behring’s Diphtheria Antitoxin Successfully Used
Diphtheria is an infectious disease that is now largely prevented by immunisation.
Competition for a New Building Design
May 1896
The winning entry was not implemented, the committee inexplicably actioned a different design to replace Redmond Barry’s house.
1897
The Hospital’s First X-ray Apparatus
Eager to stay up-to-date with new technology, the hospital committee purchased x-ray equipment for £25.
Radiology Department Established
Led by Dr Herbert Hewlett, the hospital kept abreast of diagnostic developments available with this new discipline and was the first Melbourne public hospital with a radiology department.
1898
Dr Ethel Mary Vaughan Cowan
After a one-month trial – without pay – Cowan became the first woman to be made resident doctor.
1899
Matron Hilda Player
Appointed matron, she stayed in the role until 1920.
New Outpatients Building Opened on Drummond Street, Carlton
Development of the hospital responded to growth in the local population and an increase in patient demand.
Re-structure of the Hospital Committee
For the first time, a representative from the honorary medical staff joined the management committee.
1900
Formal Ties Created With the University of Melbourne
Dr William Snowball joined the faculty of medicine. It soon became compulsory for medical students to complete some paediatric training at the hospital.
Image courtesy of the Medical History Museum, University of Melbourne.
Hospital Bazaar Raised Over £17,000
September 1st, 1900
The bazaar ran for three weeks and a souvenir book ‘Childhood in Bud and Blossom’ continued to generate income from sales long afterwards.
1901
Dr Harry Douglas Stephens
First employed by the hospital in 1901, Dr Stephens progressed through the ranks and departments, maintaining a connection with the hospital until his death in 1952.