Tenterfield Hospital's isolation ward gets a refurb

Dr Ian Unsworth with one of the four original marble fireplaces which adorn the rooms of Tenterfield Hospital's historic isolation ward.
Dr Ian Unsworth with one of the four original marble fireplaces which adorn the rooms of Tenterfield Hospital's historic isolation ward.

Medicine cabinets can be a dark chasm of forgotten prescriptions and odd implements, but those behind turning Tenterfield Hospitals old Isolation Ward into a museum and education centre are hoping a search can unearth some memorabilia from the Spanish Flu era.

The Tenterfield Isolation Ward Restoration Group headed by Dr Ian Unsworth aided by John Brown, Barbara Fischer, Mac Fraser, Alan Mackenzie, Fiona Henderson and Clare Unsworth scored a $100,000 Heritage Near Me grant last year.

It has taken the committee a big step closer to converting the abandoned Isolation Ward on the grounds of Tenterfield Hospital into a testimonial to the history of the hospital itself and to the Spanish Flu on a world, national, state and local level which instigated the buildings construction.

The premises has now been painted throughout, rewired and been fitted with LED lights, had a unisex/disabled toilet installed and floors sanded.

Four stunning marble fireplaces are being brought back to their former glory. Dr Unsworth said he know the floors are original because the scorch marks from fallen burning logs remain in front of each hearth.

Its all original, but renovated, he said.

The restoration is courtesy of a Heritage Near Me grant courtesy of MP Thomas George and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

The restoration is courtesy of a Heritage Near Me grant courtesy of MP Thomas George and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

The ward was designed in 1918 by government architect officer George McRae in response to the impending arrival of Spanish Flu which created a pandemic as soldiers returned home, carrying the disease, at the end of WW1.

Ultimately the flu came and went through Tenterfield in one month, before the building was completed, although the ward went on to serve as an isolation treatment facility for other contagious diseases. Its the only known inland isolation block built in response to the 1919 flu epidemic.

The committee appreciates it will be a long process before the doors can be thrown open to the public, but are busy collecting memorabilia to create an interesting and informative display.

To that end, Dr Unworth is putting out the call to anyone who may have artefacts of the period, from the years 1916 to 1920. He or Mr Brown can contacted about any finds.

Dr Unsworth is seeking contributions to the ward's historic display.

Dr Unsworth is seeking contributions to the ward's historic display.

He hopes the museum will become a resource for future generations, and said theres an urgency to do it now before the history is lost forever.

He said when he first some to Tenterfield in 2003 and was a member of the Hospital Advisory Board (given his medical background), there were plans afoot to demotion the old Isolation Ward. He has been working on preserving it ever since.

Its good to see it coming to fruition.

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