The Royal Hospital for Women is a maternity hospital that was established at Paddington in 1901 by the Benevolent Society. It was designated the Royal Hospital for Women in 1904 and a new building opened in 1905. The Royal Hospital for Women organised many of the adoptions of babies in New South Wales. Since 1992 has been run by the New South Wales Government, and in 1997 it transferred to a new site on Barker Street in Randwick, next to the Prince of Wales and Sydney Children's Hospitals.
Following the resumption of its site in Pitt Street, Sydney, in 1901, the Benevolent Society of New South Wales acquired a property in Paddington called Flinton for its women's hospital. A temporary maternity hospital, or lying-in hospital, commenced operations in Flinton on 1 October 1901.
In 1903 the Board of the Benevolent Society and the Board of the Crown Street Women's Hospital initiated proceedings for the amalgamation of the two institutions. However, this plan was never carried through. The Benevolent Society had plans drawn up for the construction of a permanent Hospital for Women on their site at Paddington.
In 1904 the new hospital was granted the title 'Royal' and, on 3 May 1905, Lady Northcote, the wife of the Governor-General, officially opened the Royal Hospital for Women.
The Royal Hospital for Women became one of Australia's foremost specialist hospitals for women and babies and more than 300,000 babies have been born there. It was also heavily involved in adoptions during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and employed a number of social workers to identify adoptive mothers and arrange adoptions, some of which were forced. It was one of the most important agencies for adoptions in the state.
The viability of the Royal Hospital for Women came under question in the 1980s and 1990s when funding cuts and rationalisation of health services created a series of crises in the New South Wales health system. On 1 July 1992, management of the Royal Hospital for Women was transferred to the New South Wales State Government. In 1997, the hospital moved to its new location adjacent to the Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick. The Paddington site has been redeveloped and the buildings have been converted to apartments or demolished. A park commemorates the hospital.
The Royal Hospital for Women maintained patient records such as birth registers, confinement books, admission books and Labour Ward registers, including those from several other hospitals which have closed.
Since around 1997, these records have been held by the Prince of Wales Hospital's Medico-Legal Section.
Requests for information should be made to the Prince of Wales Hospital's Medico-Legal Section.
1901 - Royal Hospital for Women
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington NSW', in History Pin: The Benevolent Society, The Benevolent Society, 2011, https://www.historypin.org/en/royal-hospital-for-women-paddington-nsw/geo/-33.883555,151.225563,5/bounds/-48.439701,139.554649,-16.356412,162.896477/paging/1; Rathbone, Ron, A Very Present Help: Caring for Australians Since 1813, State Library of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 1994, 237 pp; Sisters of St Joseph, 'Letter from Sisters of St Joseph regarding location of records [Correspondence, Item 6]', in Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices: Submissions received by the Committee, 25 August 2011, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/commcontribformerforcedadoption/submissions; 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
Created: 20 April 2011, Last modified: 8 October 2018