It's 101 years since the Manly community decided to build, and pay for!, a new hospital at North Head. It was to be built on former quarantine land as 'a permanent tribute to the men who went forward and fought in the Great War', and called the Manly Peace Memorial Hospital.
Now the hospital is closed but the land - almost a sacred site for our community - remains in public hands and will become a health and wellbeing precinct.
Image: Construction taking place in late 1928. Source: Manly, Warringah & Pittwater Historical Society
It is perhaps not widely known that the original name for Manly Hospital - the one on Eastern Hill, not the earlier Cottage Hospital in Raglan Street - was the Manly Peace Memorial Hospital.
At a public meeting in the Manly Town Hall in July 1919 it was resolved that a ‘Peace Memorial Hospital’ be built on the former quarantine land as ‘a permanent tribute to the men who went forward and fought in the Great War’.
A committee was formed and fundraising commenced.
In 1924 the NSW Parliament passed an Act (No. 55) to ‘sanction the construction of a public hospital at Manly’. This Act describes the hospital as the Manly Peace Memorial Hospital (Paragraph 4). What the Act did not reveal is that the residents of Manly were required to pay two-thirds of the cost of the hospital, including fit out and furnishing.
Construction began in 1927 with the foundation stone laid on Saturday 28 January, 1928. The residents’ main fundraising came from the annual 'Venetian Carnival', but hey struggled to raise their part of the funds. The first stage of the two-stage build cost £69,000 and the residents contributed £18,666. In today’s money the two figures are $144 million for Stage 1 with the residents providing $39 million. The new French’s Forest Hospital cost $600 million all up.
The residents still had their asset of the Cottage Hospital to liquidate but they wished to keep these funds for the fitout. Their situation was relieved a little in January 1929 when the then Minister for Health, Richard Arthur, who also happened to be a Patron of the Manly Cottage Hospital and a consulting medical officer there, agreed that the residents’ contribution could be reduced to 50%, as was the case with other local hospitals in the State, but the assets of the Cottage Hospital also had to be handed over.
There was ultimate relief in November 1929 when Arthur successfully introduced the Public Hospi tals Act. This meant that a Hospitals Commission would administer all public hospitals via local boards. The government would finance hospital construction, with local financial involvement limited to furnishings. Stage 2 commenced in June 1930 at the expense of the government (although with the passing of the Act they took over owner- ship and operation of the Cottage Hospital which was sold after the new one opened in October 1931).
While the residents got their new hospital they lost its original name. It was now simply the Manly District Hospital.
Words: Manly, Warringah & Pittwater Historical Society. Newsletter Sept 2020
Old Manly Hospital site concept plans are now on public display. What's new is that the State Government, which owns the North Head site, wants to broaden options for businesses that can be considered for the new "health and wellbeing" precinct.
The 6ha site, which will be anchored by the new Adolescent and Young Adult Hospice, could now include enterprises such as seniors housing, an educational establishment or function centre, plus a shop and cafe, although these new uses would depend on appropriate rezoning of the land by Northern Beaches Council.
There will also be parking, public access and open space and harbour views.
The current zoning of the site limits its use to a ‘health services facility’ which only permits; a hospital, medical centre, community health service facilities or consulting rooms.
The concept plan calls for this to be broadened to include uses such as;
Restaurant or café
Centre-based child care facility
Recreation facility (indoor)
The draft concept plan, shown in diagram form below, has been put together by site managers - The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (Planning NSW) - and lead consultants COX Architecture.
The next step is to collect community and stakeholder feedback, and rezoning approval from the Council. Then Planning NSW will prepare a formal site master plan with a site-specific Development Control Plan. The DCP includes built form controls to manage height, bulk and scale, as well as environmental and heritage requirements for the site.
On its website Planning NSW says; "The concept master plan focuses on developing an adaptive reuse strategy for the existing heritage buildings to deliver a mix of open and community space, health and wellbeing related uses, neighbourhood scale shops and a food and drink offering."
They say the plan has been "informed by the guiding principles, outcomes of the community consultation (September 2019), environmental and specialist investigations and market sounding exercises".
The 'main block' and original 'Manly Peace Memorial Hospital' entrance will both be 'adaptively reused'
Manly Hospital was closed in October 2018 after the new Northern Beaches Hospital was opened at Frenchs Forest. Following community pressure to save the iconic site, the State Government promised not to sell it to developers but to keep it in public hands.
The vision statement was for “a vibrant health and wellbeing sanctuary which welcomes and supports the needs of the local and wider community – achieved through innovation and balance”.
A masterplan was created to develop a health and wellbeing precinct, while maintaining community access and preserving existing heritage buildings. Incoming businesses and services would need to provide health benefits to the Northern Beaches community, as well as being self funding.
The location is not only spectacular, but complicated with many stakeholders, including Property NSW, NSW Health, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Northern Beaches Council and the local community.
Last year prominent design firm COX Architecture was appointed lead consultant for the redevelopment process.
More details and the chance to have your say here.
Candy Bingham, Deputy Mayor & Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.