THE Berrima District Cottage Hospital that opened at Bowral in September 1889 was the only hospital between Sydney and Goulburn.
In 1902, two nurses' bedrooms and a boardroom were constructed of brick alongside the main timber building.
In order to meet growing demand, work began in 1910 on additions to the nurses' building and to the main building's female ward to increase its size to eight beds.
Gas mains laid to the site by Bowral Council enabled better lighting as gas replaced kerosene lamps.
The additions and alterations were officially opened on 25 January 1911 by the Governor of NSW and drew a large crowd as was reported in The Wollondilly Press.
"Fine weather prevailed on Wednesday afternoon last when the new additions and alterations to the Berrima District Hospital at Bowral were opened by His Excellency Lord Chelmsford in the presence of a very large and representative gathering from all parts of the district. An attractive display was made with flags and streamers lent by the Public Works Department at the Hospital and in Bowral Street.
At 3 o'clock, the expected hour of the arrival of His Excellency, a telephone message was received stating that the motor car in which he was coming had broken down near the Bong Bong bridge.
In a sulky driven by Mr A F Lloyd, His Excellency arrived about 3.30 accompanied by his ADC (Captain Dumasesq) and an escort of the Robertson Lancers. The cadets of the Bowral District School formed a guard of honour.
His Excellency was received by Mr Gavin George, the Patron, members of the Committee, the medical officers, and the officials, to whom he was introduced by Dr H Leighton Jones, Master of Ceremonies.
A thorough inspection was then made of the institution which, decorated with flowers and pot plants, and with the clean and tidy appearance of everything therein, looked most attractive, and the work of the matron (Miss Solling) and her able staff in keeping the hospital in such a state of perfection was most highly spoken of."
ON THE steps leading to the hospital's main entrance, Mr George commenced the opening ceremony by reading an address to Lord Chelmsford who then spoke, and the newspaper reported as follows:
"Lord Chelmsford, in the course of his remarks, apologised for being late. He had relied on a thing called a motor car, but it unfortunately broke down, and he and his companion found themselves stranded on the road. One thing he was thankful for was that there were no reporters present to hear what he and Captain Dumaresq said when they found themselves in such a predicament. After all they had to come back to the horse to fulfil the engagement, and he had to thank his friend Mr Lloyd for helping him out of the difficulty, and he was pleased to be present to perform the opening ceremony.
He had a good deal of experience in hospitals, and after many years had found out what such institutions were doing for the good of the community. He congratulated the residents of the district on the fine institution they possessed."
The paper continued that, after speaking further on the importance of health and the hospital system and in particular the importance of good dental care, Lord Chelmsford thanked the Committee for the address of welcome and had great pleasure in declaring the new additions opened.
Following this, Dr Leighton Jones announced the donations that had been received towards the building fund and encouraged further contributions to the institution's upkeep.
THE public was then invited to inspect the hospital and, from a marquee set up on the lawns, afternoon tea was provided, the catering being in the hands of Beaumann's, Sydney.
An inspection of the Robertson Lancers and the school cadets was made by his Excellency, who afterwards left in Mr Arthur Gregory's motor car, the Lancers again escorting him.
Throughout the afternoon, the Association Brass Band under Bandmaster Vincent "rendered a delightful programme of music, which was much appreciated".
Included on the list of twenty or so donors, most contributing one or two pounds (a significant amount at that time), were two donations each of 150 pounds from Samuel and Anthony Horden.
These brothers had spent their childhood years in Bowral at Retford Park, the Horden country residence and, after the death of their father in 1909, expanded local landholdings.
Having been told of the hospital's desperate financial situation, they decided to "share in the pleasure of giving it a helping hand".
This article compiled by PHILIP MORTON is sourced from the archives of Berrima District Historical & Family History Society, Bowral Rd, Mittagong. Contribution of information and old photographs welcome. Phone 4872 2169.