Lake Macquarie History

Dudley Nursing Home

The nursing home site at the end of Ocean Street Dudley has had many incarnations over the years. It has been the site of a Colliery Manager's house, a Red Cross repatriation and convalescent home, a nursing home for aging and disabled men and presently the site of a multi-million dollar housing estate.

Beginnings

photo: dudley nursing home

"Redhead House" was situated at the end of Ocean Street Dudley on eight acres of grounds, with views over a lagoon and bushland. It was originally built to serve as the residence for the mine manager at nearby South Burwood (later Dudley) Colliery, and the design featured a large tree growing through the lounge room and out through the roof. The trunk was polished and it was a main feature of the house. Needless to say, this feature proved the ultimate downfall for the dwelling which was eventually demolished due to extensive white ant damage. A new home was rebuilt on the site by the family of mine manager Alexander Reid Cant, and included a swimming pool and landscaped gardens. This was the home eventually donated to the Red Cross in the late 1930s by Mrs L Horton and Alexander Reid Cant

World War 1 Repatriation Hospital

The story of the Red Cross is a significant part of Australia's social history. During World War One, urban and rural Australian women played an extraordinary voluntary role working tirelessly caring for sick and wounded returned servicemen in hospitals and convalescent homes. Red Cross volunteers raised millions of pounds for patriotic causes, and provided millions of pounds worth of in-kind support through volunteer labour and goods.

photo: dudley nursing home

Convalescent homes were primarily designed to provide a home-like environment for returned soldiers while they recoverd from medical procedures or long-term illnesses caused by the war. The emphasis was on making the environment more like a home than a hospital, as while many residents returned to their own homes after recovery, some remained for the rest of their lives. Convalescent Homes also acted as temporary respite places, and patients often spent time there on a regular basis as a break for their carers at home.

Convalescent homes were usually established in houses donated to the Red Cross by members of the public, and much of the work was undertaken by volunteers.

After the home was aquired, there was a huge fundraising effort to obtain furniture, fittings and other items to make the building comfortable and welcoming, and the newspapers of the day are full of articles about fairs, dances, fetes and even an 'ugly man' competition to raise money for the cause.

The Newcastle and District Red Cross Home at Dudley was officially opened on 22 March 1941, by Lady Wakehurst, wife of the Governor of New South Wales.

"The public can rest assured that the Red Cross will see that every soldier, airman, or sailor in need of medical attention will receive every possible assistance from the Red Cross. Here in this lovely bushland setting men will be able to forget the horrors of wartime and be bought back to full health and strength."

The first Matron was Miss Ilma Lovell. She was Matron of Wallsend District Hospital for 13 years, and in the 1914-18 war she served for two and a half years in Egypt at the 14th Australian General Hospital at Abbassia. She was assisted by volunteer aides - three who stayed at the home from Monday to Friday, and two who covered Saturday and Sunday. Their duties included dressing wounds, serving meals, kitchen and laundry duties and assisting patients with craft projects.

A 1949 newspaper article describes the home in glowing terms

Dudley Red Cross Home could have stepped out of Hollywood. It sits in a movie-set acre of crisp green lawns and coral trees, looking down on a sleepy lagoon, and inside it has a mood of highly-polished cosiness. It even has a swimming pool— which nobody uses. Matron I. E. Lovell, the home's cheerful chatelaine, said: 'The pool is just kept full in case of fire.'' Too shallow for swallow diving, and built on a backyard scale, it is sheltered by hedges and crossed by a giant-size model of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

photo: dudley nursing home

Administered from Sydney, the home is now used by convalescent ex- servicemen from Newcastle and the Northern districts, some of whom are Repatriation cases. They are mainly sufferers of heart diseases, chronic bronchitis, or war neurosis. Any ex-serviceman whose condition warants it can go there for a rest and any Red Cross branch will advise and help him in obtaining the neces- sary certificate of admission. Patients are given morning and afternoon tea and supper, and after wards there are always one or two to help with the washing-up.Beside the coral-tree drive is an in- viting tennis court, but most of the men seem to prefer to sit on the sloping lawns in the sun, reading, playing cards, writing letters, or merely yarning. Sometimes, they go down to the foot of The Bluff to fish, or, if they are considered well enough, get leave for a day in the city. Others help the home's paid staff of 10 by sweeping the recreation hall, dusting the wards, or peeling the vegetables. 'There is always some country chap here who will milk the cows, if we ever need him,' Matron Lovell said. (There are three cows. On winter nights, they wear rugs emblazoned With large red crosses.) The home has its own Red Cross Auxiliary (Mrs. J. Broadfoot, of Jesmond, is President), which arranges entertainments, such as picnics, for the patients and provides them with any comforts which are needed.

Geriatric home

By March 1952 the immediate care of patients after the war had come to an end, and the home was empty and falling into disrepair. At the same time, the demand for general geriatric accomodation had grown, and the home was leased by Western Suburbs Hospital for use as a nursing home for aged males.

In 1959 the site was sold to the Hospital Commission and became the Dudley annex of the Western Suburbs Hospital where it was used to accommodate up to 81 male aged patients including some war veterans. By 1955 it housed 50 men, and after improvements in1966 was upgraded to house 81 men.

Dudley Hospital Auxilliary

photo: dudley nursing home

The Hospital Auxilliary formed in1962, raised funds and provided support to the residents of the Dudley unit, with Nance Millington as inaugural president. Volunteers were involved in everything from organising bus trips and concerts for residents, to playing cards and board games or just having a chat. Their fundraising efforts helped to provide heating and cooling, washing machines and even a piano which was played often by a resident who was blind. Perhaps the Auxilliary's biggest contribution was establishing a day care centre on the grounds to service elderly residents from the surrounding area.

In a 1976 interview with the Newcastle Herald, Mrs Millington said:

"We became involved with the patients by just being their friends. We like doing things to make them happy. That is important"

Closure

When the Hunter Area Health Service was formed in 1986, the Western Suburbs Hospital and its associated assets came under the umbrella of area health. The closure of the home was first mooted in August 1990 and the aged-care facility was downgraded, ceasing operation in the late 1990s,The site stood abandoned for some time.

photo: dudley nursing home

There was much community concern about the closure of the facility and it became a political issue. Richard Face, State member for the area made a plea in parliament for the land to remain in community hands:

"In the time I have left in this Chamber I will fight as vigorously as possible to ensure that the land is included in the nearby Awabakal Nature Reserve and the nearby Glenrock State Recreation Area. My 30-odd years in this place have been about ensuring coastal protection. We must save the knoll and continue the legacy I set up, preserving the remaining prestige regions of the coastline that lie conveniently on this land." Richard Face, Hansard Hansard Legislative Assembly by date 14 March 2002 p.549

Protest meetings and even a protest march in 2006 were held to try to keep the facility open. Despite the protests the buildings were demolished in 2005, and was sold by Hunter New England Health in 2006 for $6.3 million to developers Templar Dudley. It was subdivided into 14 lots as the Dudley Bluff Estate, and went on sale in February 2009.

Reference

1940 'JUNCTION MEREWETHER RED CROSS SOCIETY', The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), 10 September, p. 5. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167538041>

1940 'RED CROSS PROCESSION', The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), 12 September, p. 4. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167526799

1941 'Coming-of-age Party', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 8 February, p. 4. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140439668

1941 'MUSICALE FOR DUDLEY HOME', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 13 February, p. 2. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140436328

1941 'NEWCASTLE RED CROSS', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 20 February, p. 2. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140427327

1941 'DUDLEY GIFT TO HOME', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 14 March, p. 4. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140437973

1941 'Recreation Hall For Dudley Home', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 28 March, p. 7. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140436688

1941 'AT DUDLEY CONVALESCENT HOME', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 12 September, p. 3. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134079585

1947 'EX-SOLDIER PRAISES DUDLEY HOME', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 28 August, p. 5. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article140315121

1948 'Opportunities for Business', Construction (Sydney, NSW : 1938 - 1954), 29 September, p. 6. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222880569

1949 'Red Cross To Spend £5000 On Dudley Home', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954), 4 August, p. 2. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134455269

1950 'NEW WING FOR DUDLEY HOME', The Newcastle Sun (NSW : 1918 - 1954), 26 July, p. 8. , viewed 11 Mar 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158766851