Building towards the Ipswich Hospital

Last year, Queensland State Archives (QSA) received a collection of correspondence records for the Ipswich Hospital which provide fascinating insight into colonial era health care and the founding of the Hospital, which is still in operation today.

Colonial era hospitals were generally managed by an appointed committee rather than the government. Hospital subscribers, who paid annual fees for the privilege to vote, could vote for the board annually. In strong contrast to today’s standards, people usually had to pay for medical treatment before they were seen by a doctor or accepted into a hospital. In this post, we highlight one of the letters from this collection of correspondence about the Ipswich Hospital.

The earliest letter in this collection of Ipswich Hospital correspondence is dated 26 April 1856 and is from the secretary of the Provincial Committee to an unnamed reader. It is possible this is a copy of the letter for the committee or a draft letter as generally only inward communications were kept by the Hospital. Neatly printed on lavender paper, it begins:

QSA Item ID2879897, Correspondence – inwards: Ipswich Hospital Correspondence, 1856 -1865

Those who attended the meeting on 15 April heard that the Colonial Government had granted 5 acres of land and put £1500 pounds towards the construction of the hospital. The town’s enthusiasm for a hospital can be seen throughout this letter which states that £500 has already been raised through subscriptions.

A very lively account of the meeting on 15 April can be read in a report in the Moreton Bay Courier, which included:

Mr Faircloth, after a reference to the probable sources of support, and some minor matters, proposed, and Mr W. Gray seconded, the first resolution:–

“That the want of a Public Hospital at Ipswich having been long and much felt, the growing importance of that town, and the increasing population of the squatting districts beyond, demand that the establishment of such an institution should be no longer delayed”.

The Moreton Bay Courier, 26 April 1856]

The contents of this letter from 26 April 1856 show how the people of Ipswich banded together to benefit the community as a whole.


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