Hillcrest Hospital was a maternity hospital in Curry Street, Merewether that was run by the Salvation Army from 1933. Previously, the institution was called the Maryville Mothers' Hospital. Adoptions were arranged from Hillcrest. Hillcrest Hospital closed in 1977.
Hillcrest Hospital was described in a newspaper article from 1939:
"Hillcrest" nestles in the hills at Merewether, close to other places in the vicinity, and yet somehow aloof - perhaps because of its lovely position, perhaps because much of its work must necessarily go unpublicised.
Hillcrest Mothers' Hospital was located in the building formerly called 'The Ridge'. The address of the Hospital changed while it was open but the Hospital did not move, presumably the sub-division of the land around the Hospital changed the street address for it.
The hospital accommodated married as well as unmarried mothers. An article from 1952 stated that Hillcrest Mothers' Hospital had accommodation for "16 married and 23 unmarried mothers". Married and unmarried mothers were accommodated in different sections of Hillcrest. An article from 1951 described how the married women's wards ('the best rooms in the house') were kept separate from those for the unmarried mothers (who had their own separate operating theatre). The journalist stressed, however, that 'the unmarried mothers receive the same treatment, food and medical care as the patients in the married women's wards'.
Single mothers came to Hillcrest some months before their babies were due. In some cases, the hospital arranged for babies to be adopted. Other children born at Hillcrest were placed in Homes run by the Salvation Army. An article about Hillside from 1951 stated:
They [single mothers] enter "Hillcrest" as early as they please before confinement. When their babies are born, the Army finds the mothers employment or, when the environment is satisfactory, sends them home. Many have no desire to part with their children, but when the wish is expressed to have them adopted - and only when the wish is expressed - this is arranged through the Child Welfare Department.
In the 1950s, the hospital held 'Back to Hillcrest' fetes, where mothers and children returned for the day.
After the closure of Hillcrest Hospital in 1977. the building was sold to private owners. It has now been restored and is again known as The Ridge. It is listed on the State Heritage Register.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Woman's Realm: Refugees at "Hillcrest"', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 1 July 1939, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133729851; 'Ian Healy's suburbia, this week: Humanity and the unmarried mother', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 7 April 1951, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139509534; 'Mothers back to Hillcrest', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 17 November 1952, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133562643; 'The Ridge', in State Heritage Register, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, https://www.hms.heritage.nsw.gov.au/App/Item/ViewItem?itemId=2170128; The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory, 'Submission 46: EASTERN TERRITORY SOCIAL CENTRES: A list of openings, closings, and function', in Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care - Submissions received by the committee as at 17/3/05, Senate Community Affairs Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, June 2003, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2004-07/inst_care/submissions/sublist; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry and Cate O'Neill
Created: 9 March 2011, Last modified: 27 June 2022