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

15 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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