The Queen Victoria Maternity Home for Women and Babies

The Queen Victoria Maternity home once operated out of  61 Albion Street, Annandale. It opened in 1895 for unmarried mothers for whom no charge was made. Matron Attenborough took charge in 1896  and remained their until 1924. The building was left to the Presbyterian Church in 1926 when George Lewis the founder of the hospital died. The number of inmates varied from eight and six beds the six bed ward being for waiting patients. A report in 1929 stated that 300 children were born at the hospital each year.

Nursing Babies 1929

Western View of Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital c.1929

A ladies auxiliary of the hospital was formed in in 1952 by Mrs Hope Figtree. The auxiliary devoted its time and talents to serving the hospital in many ways including gifts to the board of considerable amounts of money for the reduction of capital debts before the Hospital came under the Hospital Commission.

In 1979 community groups were negotiating to open up Queen Victoria hospital in Annandale for emergency accommodation at the time it was vacant whilst the NSW health commission and the Presbyterian Church were negotiating it’s return to the church. The building contained a cottage, a flat, a flatette, more than 30 bedrooms, nine large rooms and about eight offices.

61 Albion Street Annandale c. 1970

Architectural Information: is thought that the central block (with rear wings) was built c.1845. the building has been greatly added to throughout the century.  It was called “Macquarie Lodge” and after the Johnstons sold Annandale it was occupied by Sidney Smith, M.L.A. It is listed with the National Trust of Australia, it’s significance lying in the fact that it is one of the oldest buildings in the whole Municipality and the only Georgian building of the Johnston era still standing in Annandale.

References: Leichhardt Local History Vertical files

Annandale Association Buildings Register

40 comments to The Queen Victoria Maternity Home for Women and Babies

  • kathleen dryden

    I was here in October 1971 at age 19. My partner, later to become my husband, was with me during the birth, a very radical thing in 1971. I fought to keep my baby girl against a lot of opposition only to lose her at age 22 months in a car accident.

    I was living in Booth Street Annandale before I had her.
    If there is Jenny out there who lived with Kathleen September 1971 would love to hear from you.

  • Robyn Taylor

    I would appreciate hearing from anyone who was at the Queen Victoria in early May 1958 and knew Grace who was 22 years old and had her baby boy taken at birth. She was there from 2nd to the 15th May 1958.
    Grace’s boyfriend was 27 at the time. Grace was described as being quiet so we are assuming that she was deeply traumatised by how she was treated by the medical staff and the social worker Blanche.

  • Christopher David Harris

    I was born here in 1956 to an unwed mother and was adopted back by my biological father not long after they split up.

    • Robyn Taylor

      Christopher, I would be so grateful if you could you tell me how your biological father was able to track you down and a little of the process that he and your biological mother went through while she was in the Queen Victoria. We believe that my husband’s mother, Grace was deceived and coerced into signing the Adoption papers. Your father’s experiences with the hospital staff and in particular the social worker would be very helpful to us. Unfortunately Grace passed away in 2009 without ever having met her one and only child and her grandchildren. She did not tell anyone in her family that she had ever had a child taken by adoption.

      Your parents experiences would be very similar to what Grace and her boyfriend Keith would have gone through in May 1958.

      We have been trying to find my husband’s biological father ever since the Apology was made by Julia Gillard.

      His name is on the Adoption file records but he is not permitted by law to know it.

      • Hilda chesterfield

        Hi Robyn,my mother in law was born in Adelaide South Australia at the Queen Victoria hospital on 14feb1940 she was given up for adoption to a Mr and Mrs Matthias,we think they gave her the name Rhonda June,I’ve tried to find them as she has tried to find them all her life,she has a Brain tumour and wants to met them before she passes

  • David Wayne

    hello my dad David was born at this hospital in January 1961 i am looking to find his birth mum as i would like to know what back ground we have in us and some health history i have my dad adoption paper work and birth certificate ect. so if you know any think around this time it would be very help full as i have tried every think i know to try track down his birth mothe

    • Robyn Taylor

      Hello David,

      You could contact the Post Adoption Resource Centre.(phone 02 9365 3444)
      With the information that you have about your father, they may be able to help.
      They have been helping us.
      I hope this is of some help to you as we know what you are going through.

  • Amanda Julian

    Hello to all who have posted comments. My story is quite different from those above. While I was born in April 1957 at the Queen Victoria Maternity Home in Annandale, my unmarried mother did not give me up for adoption. She lived in Rosebery with her parents and took me back there with her after my birth where I live until I was about 5 years old. I think both she and my Grandparents must have been incredibly courageous to go against the norm of the time. My birth certificate does not record my birth father’s name, which is rather sad as my mother has now passed away and was never able to discuss this with me. I am wondering if there are any other people who have had a similar experience to me?

    • Robyn Taylor

      Hello Amanda,

      Perhaps your father’s details were recorded on the Department of Child Welfare files, as my husband’s father’s details were at the time of his birth.

      It seems that father’s names were routinely and deliberately omitted from original birth certificates in order to remove them from the adoption process.

      From all of the research I have done over the last 2 years it appears that fathers were also routinely bullied and threatened by hospital staff as they often got in the way of a quick adoption.

      It has been quite shocking for us to finally realise exactly what went on in those days.

      You could apply to the Adoption Information Unit and they will release what details they have on their files about your parents.

      Like you my husband’s mother passed away without ever having a chance to tell him about his father.

      It is very sad, and shameful, that my husband may never be allowed to know his father’s name.

      Good luck with your search.

    • Kelly

      Hi Amanda,
      Like you I was born in the hospital to an unmarried mother although not placed for adoption. My mother retained custody, although I’m not aware of any family support at the time. She must have had some though. My father’s details were not recorded on my birth certificate either.

    • Rhonda Gee

      I have been searching for my brother Warren who was born in 1943 and had a twin who was taken away but I think my mother was told it died but it did not . The nuns of St Joseph were also helping as my great grand mother was helping as she was an ‘Outside’ Nurse
      Trained with the order of Mary McKillop

  • Amanda Julian

    Thanks Robyn. Appreciate that you took the time to reply. Will follow up with the leads you have provided. There was never an issue of adoption for me. I lived with my mother and my grandparents and was never ‘hidden away’. It would have been easy for my biological father to trace me as they all lived in Rosebery for over 50 years – at least my grandparents did. There was never, as far as I can ascertain, any contact made on behalf of my biological father or his family. Thanks once again for the advice.

    • Robyn Taylor

      Hello Amanda,

      The medical records for the Queen Victoria Hospital, Annandale are now held by the Royal Hospital for Women , Medical Records Department,Barker Street, Randwick, NSW, 2031 phone 02 9382 3770 . They are available from September 1953 until 1978.Social work records are held by the Adoption Information Unit.

      As you weren’t adopted your situation will probably be different to my husbands

      I still think that it is possible that your father’s name and details were recorded somewhere in the files of the hospital /social worker.
      Perhaps as your mother was unmarried she may have been pressured by the social worker to give you up but she was able to keep you as she had her parents support.

      From what I understand of Birth Certificates in 1957 ,a father’s signature may have been required to verify their paternity. I am not 100% sure of this though.
      The social work records that my husband has record a great deal about his father. This information was used to “score” babies out of 10 for placement with adoptive parents. The higher the score the better chance of a good placement. A bit like puppy’s pedigree.

      There is also a OZ REUNION REGISTER that you can record your details on to find your biological father.

      I hope this extra information is helpful to you.

  • Amanda Julian

    Once again, thanks for the very useful information Robyn. Cheers, Amanda.

  • Christopher LJ

    I was born there 28 January 1949 and adopted out. My mother was a single 18 yo lady from Lismore.

  • John Santangelo

    I was born at the hospital on 22nd March 1944. I have two brothers and two sisters who were also born at Queen Victoria Hospital. My father was married in 1939 at St Brendens Church and had a fruit shop at 67 Booth St Annandale.

  • Michelle

    I would love contact from my husband’s birth mother or father. He was born December 16 1960 at Queen Victoria Hospital, Annandale.

  • I would love to hear from anyone that was at Queen Victoria Hospital from around June to October 1967. I also experienced the forced adoption of my daughter who was born there 27 October. Being only 15 and without any family support I was repeatedly told I did not have any other choice. I have never forgotten seeing those tiny blue feet when she was born. She would be 49 now and I would love to know if she is ok and happy. Please reply anyone who has had these experiences, how do you cope? Time has not helped.

  • Bev Brokenshire

    My husband was born at the Queen Victoria Hospital on the 20th of July 1950.
    We have the birth mother’s details but she is not willing/able to connect.
    We know that she was a nurse living/working near Annandale. She may have fallen pregnant
    to a co-worker.She told us that he, the father, promised marriage but did not follow through.
    She was not forthcoming with the father’s name which is very upsetting as there would
    be a chance that he might care to share details, even though she isn’t.
    She is still living and has other children, it would have been wonderful if she could have found it in her heart to have some kind of connection.

  • Eric ganino

    Iwas born at the Queen Victoria Hospital on February 13th 1960 looking for my mother.At the time of my birth she was 20 years of age and single,of Methodist religion.She lived with her family in a country town in the Adelaide Hills.She was described as 5′ 1″ tall with an average build,blonde hair and grey eyes.The father was said to be 35 years old of Australian nationality single and a factory hand. If anyone can please help me.Thank you.

  • Robyn Barton

    I recently discovered when I had need for a full birth certificate that I am not who I thought I was. My birth certificate states I was born in Annandale at the Queen Victoria on 16th December, 1945. My birth parents were Henry Donald Champion and Gwendoline May Champion nee Brashaw. They were married. I was told I was a sickly baby and my overall health has always reflected that, so it is possible everyone thought I may not survive. I don’t know.
    It appears I was NOT adopted but there was a name change only with my “new” parents. My certificate states I have two older sisters, Leona who would be about 75 and Daphne 73 years. My father has passed but my birth mother and my two siblings are still living. My health is not the best and learning this information at this stage of my life, is boggling. I would so love to make contact with my mother and especially my sisters if they are willing to open their hearts. If anyone has any knowledge about my family or anything that happened back then, or if you could help me by pointing me in the right direction to locate them, I will be forever grateful. I have spent 71 years knowing my life wasn’t right and I was in the wrong place. Please help if you can. God bless.

  • Leonie Maybin

    I was born on the 15th October 1959 at 8.20am by Dr Baccarini at the Queen Victoria Hospital, Annandale.
    That is the only information I have at this stage.
    I wrote away to get my original birth certificate, I thought it might give me some answers.
    When I received it I was very nervous and very excited. After I opened it I felt very dissapointed and sort of let down as I thought I was going to finally find out who I was and who my parents were.
    If anyone has any information or tips of what to do next I would love to hear
    thanks

  • jay robertson

    Looking for Idanah Robertson ..may have been there in l940-1943.

  • I am Neal Hammond looking for my biological grand father who was the father of my mother Enid Ruth Russell born 19 July 1913 at Queen Victoria House Annandale NSW to single mother Ada Russell who was 17 years old at the time. Ada was born in Parkes NSW around 1896 but at the time of birth was said to be living in Blayney NSW.

    Any information would be most appreciative.
    Regards
    Neal Hammond

  • D Frye

    My son was born there in 1978. He stayed with me, not adopted out. He was the second last baby born there, there was one other pregnant girl there who was living-in. I was not. I don’t know why records say it closed in 1976, definitely didn’t.

    • Georgina Kefalianos

      D Frye,I was born there 10/02/1978 could I have been the last baby?? Mother’s name on my amended birth certificate is Maree Hazel Enright. I 2 have no fathers name stated on my birth certificate. If any one knows or has any information or remembers my mothers name please contact me.

  • Cheryl Coker

    My eldest son was born at the Queen Victoria Hospital at Annandale on the 5th July 1969. I had been given 4 months free medical treatment there every month/fortnight/week until his birth. I used to catch the bus from Burwood along Parramatta Rd to Annandale. I was not married and the social worker pressured me into signing adoption papers. However, I could not give him up and revoked my consent when he had been in foster care for just short of the month given to change ones mind. When I went to the hospital to get his records the social worker called me all sorts of names because I had decided to keep him, even though I had had a nervous breakdown from the treatment and had been at Rydalmere Psychiatric Hospital.

  • Cheryl Coker

    My eldest son was born at the Queen Victoria Hospital at Annandale on the 5th July 1969. I had been given 4 months free medical treatment there every month/fortnight/week until his birth. I used to catch the bus from Burwood along Parramatta Rd to Annandale. I was not married and the social worker pressured me into signing adoption papers. However, I could not give him up and revoked my consent when he had been in foster care for just short of the month given to change ones mind. When I went to the hospital to get his records the social worker called me all sorts of names because I had decided to keep him, even though I had had a nervous breakdown from the treatment and had been at Rydalmere Psychiatric Hospital.

  • Jackie David

    I was born their on 29 January 1973 and have no idea why I was given up for adoption.. apparently my biological mother was 14 years old and of Greek origin.. my name is Jackie

  • Cheryl

    I was born at QVH on the 21st of August 1948, my parents had been married for two and a half years. My mother told me that she had given birth to twins, but the staff told that she hadn’t, fathers were not present at births back then. Since I was a teenager, people have seen “me” all over Sydney areas, even my mother saw “me” come into the department store where she worked one day, and when I met her later that day she commented that I had changed my clothes and asked me whose children were with me earlier? another day a man asked if I remembered him as I had taught him English at Auburn about 10 years ago before “I” moved interstate, he wasn’t sure of my name but thought it could have been Maggie,my daughter was with me at the time, and then a few months after that one of my daughters workmates told her that she had seen me on the train coming down from Gosford that morning, I had been at home when my daughter left for work. I have lost count of how many people have seen the other me. Three years ago I went to the State Records Office and found the hospital record book, but the day of my birth was missing. My parents have both passed away I was their only child, they would have loved to have had more children. We turned 70 this year, I would love to meet my twin before it is too late.

  • I was born on Sept 17th 1958. I was there for the birth, but my mother Joan Bonner, was not. They knocked her out, she never saw me.

    32 years later, she found me and I visited her at home, we hugged and became very close after my adoptive mother died. I did not feel comfortable making a new contact with Mum until then.

    No idea about my father, I called but was told by his brother that no contact was wanted and he had just ad bypass surgery. Tough.

    Pretty cruel being knocked out, not knowing if I was healthy or not, but Mum eas and is cool about it. She views it in the light that she had a baby for people who could not. And I am fine and in agreement with that.

    While I was raised as an only child to well off parents (Dad was a jet pilot in the 60’s – made more than the Prime Minister) I had an odd feeling that I had a sibling, three times. I have a brother and two sisters.

  • Fantastic post.Never knew this, thank you for letting me know.

  • Rhonda Gee

    It seems that more was going on in that place that was even legal at the time .
    The Catholic Church had an input as the Nuns of St Joseph were at the hospital.
    The doctors were it seems appointed on a roster from St Margarets hospital
    My great grand mother was an outside nurse and gave birth to my grand mother there and it seems my mother may have born there and my brother and his twin brother. I only found out recently after my mother’s and my brothers death

  • Monique Kaleth

    I was born at this hospital 24th June 1961 Monique Christison to a Beverley Christison, I grew up not knowing anything about my father but really would like some help in locating the history about him. He is not listed on my birth certificate but I am more than sure that his name was known by the hospital and the records. Could you please help me in where i should start.
    I grew up with my grandparents who told me that my fathers name was Michael Nolan and lived in Darlinghurst. I have tried to look but cannot find that name. Can anyone help me

  • i was born there 1937 . Had my first baby there 1958. It was very strict in 1958. The baby was in a bassinet beside you with a mosquito net over it, and you were not allowed to lift the net or touch the baby. When the baby was due to be fed, the nurse would lift her out and give her to you, then put her back. If she cried, she was simply wheeled off to the nursery. I was a private married patient. The unmarried girls were not allowed to see their babies, or go into the nursery once they had been born. Their friends told them what the baby looked like. One of the girls told me they could be dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to fold napkins if necessary. It was so sad. I really felt for them. Visiting hours were also strict. Often the fathers and relatives would be lined up at the door, but could not venture in until the bed had rung, and they had to leave as soon as the bell rang when visiting hour was over. Those were the days!

  • Anne Tischlinger

    I just watched the horrific 2017 documentary, “The Family”, on Austrian TV & got a shock to notice the word “Annandale” appearing very briefly on a form of some kind. Immediately, my mind jumped to the Queen Victoria Hospital for Mothers & Babies around the corner from our old Victorian home at 46 Johnston St, where our GP & surgeon dad occasionally delivered babies. Very young, we learnt the meaning of the expression, “It was a Caesar,” which might not have been exactly typical for kids of primary school age! Of course we gave little thought then as to why the mothers apparently rarely had husbands & certainly never dreamt that injustices of the degree of those perpetrated by the instigators of “The Family” & also, it seems, various other collaborators, might be taking place so near our home.

  • Kai M B

    I’m so happy to have stumbled upon this little site. It really has opened my eyes to many things I just didn’t realise. It’s really given credence to all the stories I’ve been told by family members.

    I was born here in December 1974 to a 15 year old half caste girl.

    My father, like most, was not on the birth certificate. I thought it was because he was 14 at the time. I’m now discovering that was the norm.

    I’ve been told that I was left here by my mother who signed me over for adoption, and that my dear English grandmother stormed down as fast as her little five foot overweight frame could carry her and demanded that I be handed over, and apparently won.

    I’ve always thought it was because she was young and without a partner that I was initially placed into adoption, I now see that this is how the hospital ran (and I presume made it’s money)

    I was signed into my grandmothers care, I know that, because either my mother refused to take me or the hospital refused to hand me over. I have never been able to verify this.

    My mother and grandmother didn’t ever speak about any of this openly that I remember. Occasionally a family member would get drunk at one of my Nan’s many parties, half blurt out information, realise their mistake and quickly shut up. This is how I’ve gathered family stories in the past. Now I’m the last in the family, so it’s up to me to get the truth.

    I’ve also been told that there was a program put into place where the prebirth women would assist the postbirth women and this was how you paid off your debt to the hospital for taking your child afterwards. Can anyone confirm / deny this ?

  • Madison Wilson

    Hey everybody, I’m on the hunt for my biological grandmother. My Father was born In QVH on the 23rd of September 1971, I’d be so grateful if anyone has any information or can point me in the right direction.
    Thankyou!

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