Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thames (NZ): Born in Thames

Were you, your parents, grandparents or further generations back born in Thames? The birth certificates for older generations may record the town name as: Block 27, Grahamstown, Moanataiari, Parawai, Punga Flat, Shortland, Tararu, or Tookey's Town. The words Thames Goldfield may have been added for clarification.

Description: Pioneer days in Thames:
Showing the tents that were homes to the miners about 1867.
Source: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19130220-11-3 

BIRTH LOCATION: The majority of early births would have been at home, which for many early Thames births could have been a tent or hut.

Only later would women go to the hospital or annexe for the delivery. The women that helped with the delivery may have been called a midwife, but until the Nurses Registration Act came in to being in 1901, it could have been an honorary name rather than official one. The women may have played this role back in their home country or acquired the skill in New Zealand.

If you don't know where your relative was born, check the newspapers at Paperspast. In particular: Thames Advertiser, Thames Star, Daily Southern Cross, Auckland Star and New Zealand Herald.
Purchase a historical birth printout from NZ Birth, Deaths and marriages.

HOSPITALS: A Thamesite's birth may have been at one of these private or public hospitals below:

Braemar Private Hospital:
Located at 507 Queen Street, Thames. Open c1922 to c1954. A private facility, where Many Thames babies were born. One of the doctors mentioned associated with the hospital was Dr J Liggins.
Present Day: The house was demolished in 1976 and combined with section 505 Queen Street, the Thames Courthouse was built and remains on the site today.
Source:  Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-70453-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
A view of Braemar Private Hospital from the west, seaside.
Source: V C Browne Collection.

Sperry Home:
Located off Bella Street, Karaka Creek Road, on the south side of a lane known as Sperry Lane. Open from c1912 to c1932.  Midwives Mrs Janet Waddell and her daughter Bella (Mrs Isabella Gardner Smith) established the private home known as “Sperry Home.”  When Bella died in 1949, the obituary stated that nearly 2000 mothers had used the home. (Thames Star 26/09/1949) Present day: House is gone and now area part of back of Thames Hospital Campus and Helipad area. Remembered in the Sperry CafĂ© at Thames Hospital where there is a plaque.

Thames Hospital & Annexe
The first Thames Hospital on Mary Street, was principally used by miners and their related health emergencies. In the early years there was provision for a female ward if required, but many of the births would have been at home during this time. The two views below are approximately 1870s.

 Above left: View from Mary Street, St George's Church on left.
Above Right. View of Thames Hospital from the corner of Mary and Baillie Streets.
When the new hospital was built and opened in 1900, there were more wards allocated to different specialties, and areas for men and women. Births may have occurred at this time in the hospital, but women may still have chosen to have their babies at home.
Above: Thames Hospital on Baillie Street c1900 

Things changed in 1924, when the Thames Hospital opened their Maternity Annexe in the building vacated several years previous by Thames High School. It was used as a Maternity Annexe until the end of 1956, and closed on the completion of the new Ward Block. This was an era when women principally gave birth in a hospital environment.
Present Day: Building long gone and land now part of the back of Thames Hospital campus.
Above left. The front of the Thames Hospital Maternity Anne, taken at the time of the 1950 Nurses' Reunion. Above right. The Annexe is on the left of the street, next to the Nurses Home and over the road (Baillie Street) is the main Thames Hospital campus. Photo taken 1947.

There was extensive redevelopment of the hospital campus in the 1950s, which included the closure of part of Baillie Street. The Annexe was now located in the new ward block and called Ward One aka Maternity Annexe. It was located on the Ground Floor of the ward block. The driveway entrance off Bella Street. This ward was occupied from the end of 1956. The photos below show the ward and the annexe birthing rooms. Patient rooms were single or four-bed options. For many years babies were kept in the Nursery in the middle of the ward, and in later years rooming-in with the mother became more acceptable.
Above left. The official opening of the ward block 12 March 1958.
Above right. The Birthing rooms attached to Ward One - photo taken 1963.

In more recent years, there has been further hospital redevelopment. The Ward block One to Three, was demolished to allow for further new buildings - at this time the birthing unit was located in different areas of the main Thames Hospital Block, entrance off Mackay Street, Thames (photo below)
Now there is a new place to be born at Thames - The Thames Birthing Unit. Located at 412 Mary Street, Thames - opposite the Thames Hospital main campus.