Demolition of Nurses’ Quarters at Redcliffe Hospital Stirs Memories

Redcliffe Hospital West Block

The former nurses’ quarters building at Redcliffe Hospital, where countless student nurses forged lifelong friendships while completing their studies, is being prepared for demolition in mid-2024 as part of the hospital’s major $1.1 billion redevelopment project.

For Di Smout, Barb Williams, and Karen Chippindall, who lived in the quarters known as West Block from the 1980s to the early 1990s, the impending demolition evokes a flood of cherished memories. The quarters, which housed up to 60 student nurses at a time in its heyday, served as more than just a building; it was a haven for camaraderie, shared experiences, and lasting friendships.

The former nurses vividly recall their small rooms, each equipped with a single bed, desk, and cupboard, as well as the communal bathrooms, kitchen, and living spaces they shared. Despite the disciplined lifestyle and the pressure of attaining perfect exam scores, they managed to have fun and forge enduring bonds.

Study groups, all-nighters cramming for exams, parties, nights out, and shared meals from the nearby Chinese takeaway were all part of the nursing student experience. The window ledges served as prime spots for sunbathing or sneaking a cigarette, while the communal phone would ring with invitations for the nurses to “come out and play” when Navy ships arrived in Brisbane.

Redcliffe Hospital West Block
Photo Credit: Moreton Bay Library

On social media, former nurses have expressed their desire to obtain a brick from the old building as a memento, recalling their time as student nurses in the 1970s and their unique experiences within its walls.

“I remember as a student nurse on night shift, having to take early morning cuppa and give verbal handover/update on night shift events and in- patients to Matron Welsh, who also lived at eastern end of the Nurses quarters. There was also rooms in these premises designated for Nursing Tutors to educate nursing students. Good old days and so memorable,” Sue Dale said.

“What a memory,” Kathy Johnson remarked. “I lived there from 1969-72 when student nurses were not allowed to be married and compulsory to live in during their training.”

“As part of the awesome nursing team who trained at Redcliffe Hospital in the 70’s, & lived in the nurses quarters, I’m asking for the chance to have a brick from the building as a memory. I know a number of my colleagues who feel the same…please can we have a brick?” Lyn Mills asked.

As the former nurses’ quarters building prepares for demolition, the Redcliffe Hospital is undergoing a major expansion project that will deliver a nine-story Clinical Services Building, 204 new beds, and an expansion of existing services, including theatres, emergency rooms, birthing rooms, endoscopy rooms, and various other clinical and support services.

Redcliffe Hospital Expansion
Photo Credit: Multiplex

The $1.1 billion redevelopment, one of 11 major hospital expansions undertaken by the state government, is expected to be completed by late 2028 and will support more than 2,500 jobs during construction.

Published 15-May-2024