Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thames (NZ): Restoration of 'New' Nurses Home Plaques

In years past it was the norm to place foundation and opening day 'stones' when new public buildings were constructed. Something that seems to go unmarked with many new buildings in Thames today. That being said, there are many that are in a sad state, so it was pleasing to see the Thames Hospital get in behind a project to restore and rehang several important plaques.

When I researched Thames Memorial and Plaques two years ago, the foundation stone details for the Thames Hospital Nurses' Home (that was opened in 1954) were barely readable.

Background from the above book:
Thames Hospital underwent many changes from the time it was founded as the Thames Goldfields Hospital in 1868. The need for hospital beds and subsequent nursing staff continued to grow. New campus buildings from the 1950s included a new Nurses’ Home at the corner of Mary and Rolleston Streets, Thames. It was mandatory that student nurses live in during the majority of their training; hence the need for a new hostel became imperative.

The foundation stone is on the right hand side of the steps. It reads: “This Stone was laid by the Hon. J R Marshall Minister of Health on the 1st May 1952 Lewis Walker ANZIA Architect The Carrington Building Co Ltd Builders.” On the left hand side of the front steps is a plaque that gives details of the Thames Hospital Board in 1952. It reads: “Thames Hospital Board W C Kennedy Chairman J W Neate (?) Deputy Chairman. Members of the Board 1952 T A Barrett, J W Danby, ?” The remainder of the names are unable to be read due to deterioration of the plaque.

When the Nurses’ Home opened in 1954 it was described as equal to a 4 star hotel.[1] Staff would subsequently call it the ‘New’ Nurses Home, to identify it from the ‘old’ home that was located to the north of the building. It was the first building completed as part of a one million pound upgrade to the hospital campus. Mr W C Kennedy (Chairman of the Thames Hospital Board) “appealed to girls of the district to give consideration to nursing when choosing their future careers.”

[1] Thames Star, 11 October 1954. A Barker Collection.
Opening day 9 October 1954
Thanks to the efforts of the local stone mason and hospital staff, the plaques at the base of the stairs to the past 'New' Nurses' Home now Manaaki Centre, have been restored and all information can be clearly read. Another excellent project completed as part of the Thames Hospital 150 Commemorations.
The Plaque on the north side of the Manaaki Centre, has the names of the Thames Hospital Board Members in 1952.

This is the Foundation stone that was laid 1 May 1952.

The view from the carpark in front of the Manaaki Centre, showing the location of the Foundation Stones.

So if you see some plaques that are deteriorating, see what you can do to ensure the history of the building continues.