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Jim’s Australiana Spot – 2UE - March 20, 2016

Sydney Hospitals - Part 2 The Beginning The Rum Hospital

1 When Macquarie arrived in 1810 who LOST the rum monopoly and who GAINED it?
  The NSW 'Rum' Corps LOST IT and some businessmen gained it on the proviso that they built a hospital
2 How did Macquarie solve the currency problem - since rum was no longer legal tender?
  The Holey Dollar and dump
3 What sort of patients inhabit the north wing?
  Politicians - it's Parliament House!

Sydney Hospital began with Surgeon-General John White’s First Fleet sick tents, which were pitched on the west side of Sydney Cove. A portable prefabricated hospital built from wood and copper, arrived in Sydney with the 2nd Fleet in 1790.

Macquarie contracted with a consortium of businessmen - Garnham Blaxcell, Alexander Riley etc to build a hospital. They received convict labour and supplies plus the monopoly on imports of rum from which they expected to pay for the building and gain huge profits. The were allowed import 45,000 (later increased to 60,000) gallons of rum to sell to colonists. However, the hospital did not turn out to be very profitable for the contractors. There is speculation that both Macquarie and John O'Hearen contributed to the design. John O’Hearen defended the methods of its construction against critics but also signed himself as ‘Architect’

In 1816, convict patients were transferred to the new hospital, built on a grand scale by contractors in return for a rum monopoly. It was so big it was never used as just a hospital. Parliament House is the north wing and the Mint is the south wing,

At first the hospital accepted convicts and pauper patients who were not convicts. Sydney Dispensary was created in 1826 to provide outpatient care for 'free poor persons, unable to pay for medical attendance'. It was conducted on traditional charitable lines and operated from several city premises before obtaining the south wing of the Rum Hospital. It then expanded to serve inpatients and changed its name to the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary, a title officially approved in 1844. Convict inpatients were treated in the separately managed hospital next door.

With the dissolution of the convict hospital system, the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary moved from the south wing in 1848 to the middle section of the Rum Hospital complex and has retained the site to the present day. The institution changed its name to Sydney Hospital in 1881.

The Wicked, Wilful Wog  
Wilbur G Howcroft

A much dreaded event which all folk resent
Is that terrible scourge called the Wog.
This pernicious disease can quite suddenly seize
With a grip like a rabbiter’s dog.
A tough drover out west was attacked by the pest
As he sat by his campfire one day.
On his quartpot he wrote this pathetic last note:
‘I bin struck down – an’ ain’t drawn me pay!’

A poor cocky, it’s said, was confined to his bed
When the pestilent wog laid him low.
For a fortnight or more he hung close to death’s door,
As he sweated and tossed to and fro.
A kind neighbour, one day, who rode over the way
Was informed by their young son aged ten:
‘Dad’s much better, thank you, an’ we think he’ll pull through
’Cos he’s startin’ to swear once agen!’

A prospector named Ned was discovered half-dead
From a fall in a high mountain chain.
He was taken, perforce, firmly tied on a horse,
To a hospital down on the plain.
For three weeks or so it was just touch and go
’Til his fevered mind burst through the fog.
Then he boastfully said to the nurse by his bed:
‘This ain’t nothin’ – I once ’ad the Wog!’


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