The Lidcombe Heritage Group was formed in 1994 to promote and preserve the history of Lidcombe Hospital and buildings of heritage significance on the site.
The Hospital traced its origins to 1893 when the Rookwood Benevolent Asylum for the Aged and Infirm was established to ease overcrowding in other State Institutions.
Over the next 60 years the institution saw considerable expansion and a number of name changes; initially becoming The State Hospital and Home; it next became the Lidcombe State Hospital. In the 1960’s The Hospital emerged as the leading geriatric hospital in NSW but providing services for general patients as well. There was substantial growth in Clinical services.
By 1990 Lidcombe Hospital was a full teaching hospital of the University of Sydney and was accredited by the Post Graduate Medical Council and most of the post graduate colleges of specialised training.
In 1992 a somewhat controversial decision was made to close down The Hospital on its present location and eventually a few beds and some clinical services were transferred to a refurbished Bankstown Hospital. Lidcombe Hospital ceased to exist as an independent entity and the land was purchased by developers.
The Hospital has been an integral part of the fabric of the community of Sydney and New South Wales for over a century with a proud tradition of caring and committed service.
Happily, due to the efforts of The Lidcombe Heritage Group, a concerned community and the goodwill of the developers a substantial number of buildings in the historic precinct of The Hospital have been sensitively refurbished as private residences whilst preserving their historic character.
Dr Gregory Marcar
President, Lidcombe Heritage Group Inc.
Dr Gregory Marcar – President Bio: My involvement with Lidcombe Hospital and its site exceeds forty years. The first twenty were in service. Following my retirement as Medical Superintendent, I continued to be involved in helping to promote and preserve the history of Lidcombe Hospital and its built heritage. Many of the old structures are no more, but the historic core of buildings are now tastefully preserved with official heritage listing. The unstinting support of our members and the good will of the wider community have made this possible.
Mr Bruce Bennedick – Secretary Bio: I have lived on the Lidcombe Hospital site for more thirty years. I have witnessed it’s transformation from a fully functioning teaching hospital, to a village to house the media for the 2000 Olympic games to a vibrant housing estate. After meeting Mrs Raema Walker at some early protest meetings I decided to join this Heritage Group. Today with my hobby of photography I have, and continue to, follow the redevelopment progress on a regular basis of this historical site. I salute the members of the Lidcombe Heritage Group Inc. who before I was involved worked tirelessly to have some of the original buildings State Heritage Listed. This has ensured that buildings have been preserved and sensitively adapted by the the developer, Australand, today.
Ms K Mealing – Treasurer Bio: While working as an Registered Nurse in the Auburn Local Government Area I had regular contact with Lidcombe Hospital staff and services on behalf of my elderly and disabled clients. Also as a member of Auburn District Historical Society I was very interested in the history of the site and it’s heritage buildings. When decisions were being made about the hospital’s closure and development of the land, hospital staff and members of our historical society formed the Lidcombe Heritage Group Inc. to ensure the future of the heritage buildings and other important features on the site, and that development around it would be sympathetic to the surrounds.
A Moment of Gratitude
Lidcombe Hospital celebrated its Centenary in 1993. As Convener of the Lidcombe Hospital Centenary Committee I got to work closely with Raema Walker. We were very concerned about the future of The Hospital’s historic precinct and the fine heritage buildings it contained because The NSW Government had determined to close down The Lidcombe Hospital on its original site . It was apparent that The Hospital Land would be sold to private developers. Both Raema and I agreed upon the need for an organization that would promote the history and heritage of Lidcombe Hospital. Raema began to put her formidable community networking skills to work and the inaugural meeting saw an impressive turnout and ultimately The Lidcombe Heritage Group was formed in 1994. As the first secretary Raema has worked assiduously to achieve its objectives and we owe her an immense debt of gratitude. In 2003 Raema was awarded The Order Of Australia Medal for her extensive community work. It was an honor she richly deserved. Dr. Gregory Marcar President Lidcombe Heritage Group
Ms Raema J. Walker O.A.M. Bio: After attending Auburn Public School and Parramatta High School, working in a bank, marrying, and starting a family, I answered an advertisement for clerical staff at Lidcombe Hospital, widely known as “The Old Men’s Home” and the largest such Home and Hospital in the Southern Hemisphere. On April 10, 1967, after seeing our 3 children cross the road to Regents Park Public School just opposite our home, I rode my pushbike to Lidcombe Hospital, Joseph St, by 9 am, to work first in the main office. Then I typed orders for the Dispensary and the Store for about 3 years, then 5 years in the Social Work Department under Senior Social Worker Mrs Jean Rowe, totalling 10 years. My parents supervised our children after school, so we could soon afford cars and paying off the mortgage for our home. In 1966 the hospital had changed dramatically, when women from Newington Women’s Home were admitted and more modern clinics and treatment introduced. I left my job at Lidcombe Hospital on April 14, 1977 for a 1 year TAFE Farm Management Course when my father died, to support my mother, then a Dip. Ed. of Primary Teaching, and later voluntarily joined the Lidcombe Hospital Auxiliary as I had grown to love the place and the people who worked there.