Wf025 : Queen Victoria Sanitorium | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Wf025 : Queen Victoria Sanitorium

Item details

Name of item: Wf025 : Queen Victoria Sanitorium
Other name/s: See Further Comments
Primary address: 215-229 Tableland Road, Wentworth Falls, NSW 2782
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
215-229 Tableland RoadWentworth FallsBlue Mountains   Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a) Historical
The kernel of the complex developed as the Queen Victoria Homes at Wentworth Falls is the fine country retreat built by a highly significant businessman. Sir Kelso King and his first wife, around 1890. King's wide interests in investment, business and mining as well as music and the theatre, make him a figure of State significance over his long life. Although he did not retain his country retreat after the early death of his first wife, King's connection with the site, expressed in a fine house and distinguished plantings, is highly important, although often overlooked.

The treatment of tuberculosis by exposure to a bracing mountain climate which was
preferred in the later Victorian period and early twentieth century led to a group of prominent physicians such as Dr Sinclair and Sir Philip Sydney Jones establishing a series of sanatoria in the Blue Mountains. The Queen Victoria Home at Wentworth Falls was the first, followed by Bodington, also in Wentworth Falls (WF 047) and the R.T. Hall Home at Hazelbrook (H 002 ). The continuous use of the Kings Tableland premises for health care for 96 years and the importance of the buildings and grounds give the complex heritage significance at the State level.

Criterion (b) Associations
The property was first developed by Kelso King, whose wide interests in investment, business and mining as well as music and the theatre, make him a figure of State significance over his long life. As a home for consumptives, the complex was fundamentally influenced by its first medical superintendent, Dr Malcolm Sinclair and a foundation Trustee Dr Philip Sydney Jones, doctors of considerable significance.

Jones was a member of the University of Sydney Senate for many years, and Vice-
Chancellor from 1904 to 1906, a founder of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, a Trustee of the Australian Museum as well as being the Foundation President of the National Association for the Prevention and Cure of Consumption. (Garrett, Australian Dictionary of Biography, IV 490-491) Sir Philip Sydney Jones is a figure of State importance.

His son, George, who designed the complex over the years 1902 to 1921, was a major figure in the architectural profession and the Institute of Architecture in New South Wales and is of State significance, though less important than his father.

Malcolm Sinclair, a Glasgow-trained physician specialising in tuberculosis, was invited to come to Australia in 1903 to run the new Sanatorium. He supervised the first five formative years of the institution and then in 1908 left to found Bodington Sanatorium on his own estate also in Wentworth Falls (see VVF 047). After selling Bodington and serving in World War I, Dr Sinclair maintained a general medical practice in Wentworth Falls until his death in 1941 (Our Past Blue Mountaineers, VI I 25). Dr Sinclair is a figure of considerable Local significance.

Criterion (c) Aesthetic
The Queen Victoria Hospital group is of outstanding importance as a purpose-designed sanatorium of the Edwardian period. While there have been substantial alterations and additions to the group, the original grouping of pavilions and cottages can be easily discerned.

At the centre of the group is a substantial late Victorian house, a good example of the period featuring generous verandahs, a smart doorcase and French windows.

The gardens, designed initially for Kelso and Irene King. and developed for the Sanatorium by H.A. James, remain significant.

Criterion (f) Rarity
Few substantial houses from the Victorian period survive in the Blue Mountains. Kelso King's country retreat at the centre of the sanatorium complex is a good surviving example.

The survival of the small 'open air' chalets for consumptive patients is extremely rare. There are three others at Bodington (WF 047), but none survives at the R.T. Hall Horne at Hazelbrook (H 002 ) The pavilions are of State importance.

Criterion (g) Representativeness
The former Queen Victoria Sanatorium is a good example of a purpose-built sanatorium utilising separate pavilions to treat the disease.
Date significance updated: 07 Jul 09
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Harry C Kent and George Sydney Jones
Builder/Maker: W F Knight
Construction years: 1890-1980
Physical description: Building
The former Queen Victoria Sanatorium is a large complex of buildings in an otherwise isolated location on Kings Tableland beyond the main residential development.

At the centre of the group is the original Kelso King country retreat (now known as the Central Block), which pre-dates the main hospital complex. This is a well-preserved single-storey late Victorian house facing east. The roof is hipped, originally with an internal valley which has been roofed over with a low pitched hipped roof. A bullnose verandah wraps around the front and sides of the house. The roof is of corrugated steel and the walls are clad with rusticated weatherboards. The verandah is supported on cast iron columns. A timber balustrade with a simple cross braced pattern has been added to the verandah. The house is approached by sandstone steps. The front door of the house is set in a doorcase with arched sidelights and a toplight. French windows are located to either side of the door.

To each side of the house are long wings of inter-connected pavilions stretching to the north and south.

Northeast of the house is a Federation-period cottage with a hipped and gabled roof of terracotta tiles. The house is clad with rusticated weatherboards. Double-hung windows have multi-pane top sashes.

Simple gabled toilet blocks with fibro cladding Iie to the east of the Federation cottage.

To the southeast is a Federa6on period pavilion with a large hipped terracotta roof. It is designed as a single space with substantial glazing to maximize fresh air.

To each side of the house are long wings of inter-connected pavilions stretching to the north and south. These side wings are a composite of pavilions which began with terracotta-roofed weatherboard pavilions. Links have been clad with fibro and roofed with skillions. Later alterations include brick veneer cladding in blond brickwork to some of the early pavilions.

Beyond the south wing are three small 'open air' pavilions. These pavilions are rare
survivors of patient exposure to fresh air which were once common at tuberculosis
sanatoria. They have gabled roofs of ripple iron. A skillion awning shades the front of the pavilion. The spandrel walls are clad with rusticated weatherboards and the gables are clad with shingles. Hospital windows provide ventilation on the west side. Further south (outside the present fenced area) is another small pavilion, probably relocated to its present pavilion.

Large workshops are located to the southwest of the group.

Garden and plantings

The avenue of mature trees running from the south up to Kelso King's house is a central feature of the estate. It was not possible for the garden specialist on the consultancy team to visit the site, but the importance of the development of the gardens and plantings under the supervision of H. A. James in the sanatorium period requires further investigation.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Fair to good
Date condition updated:06 Jul 09
Modifications and dates: Alterations and additions: 1948
Brick veneer alterations and additional buildings: 1970s
Further information: Other/Former Names: Queen Victoria Homes for Consumptives', Queen Victoria Hospital, Queen Victoria Nursing Home
Current use: Unused
Former use: Tuberculosis Sanitorium; Hospital

History

Historical notes: The original house on the property was built for Kelso King (1853-1943), knighted in 1929, a prominent Sydney businessman, with fingers in many corporate pies, such as insurance, banking, pastoralism, mining and coastal shipping. Around 1890 King and his first wife, Irene Rand, acquired the large portion 13 in the parish of Kedumba, co. Cook, which lay mostly on the Tableland but included part of Kedumba Walls and Kedumba Valley below. The Kings built a country retreat on this relatively remote spot, perhaps encouraged by the name Kings Tableland (although the King was not Kelso but George III). Mrs King died in 1900 and Kelso then lived in a Macquarie Street flat in Sydney until, with his second wife, he bought Quarnbi in Edgecliff in 1917. (King, Australian Dictionary of Biography, IX 593-594)

The 618 acres (247 hectares) of land adjacent to King's portion 13 were acquired by Walter R. Hall in 1897 and a further 38 acres (15 hectares) was soon added to the Hall estate. In 1904 and 1909 part of this land was given to the Sanatorium estate on King's portion. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 'Queen Victoria Nursing Home', 6, 10, 14) Hall was a close friend of King and shared some of his business interests, although Hall, as the major shareholder in Mount Morgan mines after 1886, was far far wealthier than King. After Hall's death in 1911, King was one of the founding trustees of the £ 1 million Walter and Eliza Hall Trust which is still so important a philanthropic institution. (King, Australian Dictionary of Biography, IX 168-169) Hall did not build a country retreat on the Tableland, but presumably stayed in King's house when he was taking the mountain air.

Soon after the death of his first wife, Kelso King sold his Tableland house to the Committee of the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Homes for Consumptives Fund, which had been working since 1897 towards providing better facilities for those suffering from tuberculosis. In 1898 the Committee had taken over the Thirlmere Home for Consumptives, built in 1886 at the sole expense of the industrialist John Hay Goodlet around his country retreat called Harmony. Goodlet had supplied the finance for the operation of the home at Thirlmere until 1893, when a Board of Management was formed. At the time when the Jubilee Committee took charge at Thirlmere the home had 41 beds, 14 for female and 27 for male patients. (Austin, Craven, Silvey, A Brief History of the Township of Wentworth Falls, 12; Kershaw, Henry Alfred James, 43-44)

The Committee saw the need for an entirely new sanatorium and accordingly bought Kelso King's house and land in 1901. The climate of the Blue Mountains seemed ideally to fit current theories about the best environment for consumptives and the Kings Tableland home was the first of three major investments in such Mountains sanatoria (Austin, Craven, Silvey, Wentworth Falls, 12)

Accommodation for 20 male patients was opened on the King estate in February 1903. The architect was George Sydney Jones (1865-1927), the eldest son of Dr Philip Sydney Jones, the leading medical expert on consumption. George Sydney Jones also designed the other major sanatoria in the Blue Mountains, Bodington (WF 047) and R.T. Hall in Hazelbrook (H 002). (Building Magazine, 11 November 1911, 12 February 1927: Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 'Queen Victoria Nursing Home', 29-30) The characteristic open-air chalets for patients were endowed by benefactors, most notably Sir Hugh Dixson, the tobacco magnate whose library ultimately was bequeathed to the State Library of New South Wales (Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 'Queen Victoria Nursing Home', 11)

The ideal of self-sufficiency led to the building in 1903-4 of farm buildings for cattle, pigs and poultry. The problem of water supply was solved by the gift of land from Walter Hall and the building of an extensive dam there. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 'Queen Victoria Nursing Home', 10)

The Queen Victoria Homes were initially under the medical direction of Dr Malcolm McIntyre Sinclair, with Philip Sydney Jones (knighted in 1905), as a Trustee and President of the Committee (overseeing the homes both at Thirlmere and at Wentworth Falls). John Hay Goodlet, who gave his entire estate at Thirlmere to the Committee in 1903, remained Vice-President until 1912 and his widow, after 1914, was Life Governor. (Kershaw, James, 45-47) But the governance of the institution changed after Dr Sinclair left in 1908 to found Bodington (WF 079) and the institution came under the aegis of the Public Hospitals Act. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 'Queen Victoria Nursing Home', 14)

Henry Alfred James was Secretary to the Committee from 1905 until 1928 and is a highly significant figure in the development of the environment at Kings Tableland. James, born in 1850, had spent most of his working life as a draftsman in the Charting Branch of the New South Wales Department of Mines until he retired in 1918 after 43 years of service. His first wife had died in 1891 with symptoms similar to those of tuberculosis and James was deeply involved in the fund-raising by the Jubilee Committee. He was also a significant gardening specialist, whose small 'Practical Horticulture for Australian Readers' had been published in 1890 and whose large 'Handbook of Australian Horticulture' appeared in 1892. James ran his own small nursery and established fine gardens at his successive homes in Sydney and at Hazelbrook. (Kershaw, James, passim)

When the State government allocated £250 for landscape improvements at the Kings Tableland home in 1904 it is almost certain that James designed the grounds and supervised the layout of the gardens, using patients as gardeners. Palm trees were among James' trademarks and the placement of these at Queen Victoria Hospital today reflects his work a century ago. The original gardens established under Kelso and Irene King close to their retreat would, however, have presumably remained as a central feature of James' work and the fine avenue of trees seems to relate to King's environment. (Kershaw, James, 67- 68).

After 1911 the Queen Victoria Homes were in need of regular government assistance and became a hospital under the Public Hospitals Act. James became a Trustee and remained as Honorary Secretary, now to the new Board of Director. When he retired from the Secretaryship in 1928 at the age of 78, he became Supervisor of both Homes, with responsibilities for the fabric of buildings and grounds and made regular monthly inspections at Thirlmere and Wentworth Falls until his death in 1936. Although he allowed Goodlet's original house at Thirlmere, Harmony, to be demolished, James seems to have ensured that King's house at Wentworth Falls remained in good condition. (Kershaw, James, 55-57)

The home was fully occupied in the inter-war years. In 1921 the Philip Sydney Jones Hall, designed, like most of the Queen Victoria complex, by his son George, was opened by the governor. The twelve open-air chalets were reconditioned and electric lighting was installed in 1927. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 'Queen Victoria Nursing Home', 15-16)

After rather bleak World War II years, when Hall's 38 acres were resumed by the Federal government, the garden was partly redesigned by the famous landscape designer, Paul Sorensen, who introduced more lawn and new shrubs. (Noel Bell Ridley Smith. 'Queen Victoria Nursing Home', 17-18)

The complex on Kings Tableland remained a chest hospital until 1958 when it was
converted to a hospital for the aged and chronically ill, which involved a good deal of reorganisatlon of the wards and facilities. In 1988 the management of the home was taken over by the Wentworth Area Health Service. It continued as a nursing home until its closure in May 1999. It has been sold but no development has yet been approved. (Austin, Craven, Silvey, Wentworth Falls, 13; Kershaw, James, 58; Noel Bell Ridley Smith, 'Queen Victoria Nursing Home', 20-21)

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The kernel of the complex developed as the Queen Victoria Homes at Wentworth Falls is the fine country retreat built by a highly significant businessman. Sir Kelso King and his first wife, around 1890. King's wide interests in investment, business and mining as well as music and the theatre, make him a figure of State significance over his long life. Although he did not retain his country retreat after the early death of his first wife, King's connection with the site, expressed in a fine house and distinguished plantings, is highly important, although often overlooked.

The treatment of tuberculosis by exposure to a bracing mountain climate which was
preferred in the later Victorian period and early twentieth century led to a group of prominent physicians such as Dr Sinclair and Sir Philip Sydney Jones establishing a series of sanatoria in the Blue Mountains. The Queen Victoria Home at Wentworth Falls was the first, followed by Bodington, also in Wentworth Falls (WF 047) and the R.T. Hall Home at Hazelbrook (H 002 ). The continuous use of the Kings Tableland premises for health care for 96 years and the importance of the buildings and grounds give the complex heritage significance at the State level.

The property was first developed by Kelso King, whose wide interests in investment, business and mining as well as music and the theatre, make him a figure of State significance over his long life. As a home for consumptives, the complex was fundamentally influenced by its first medical superintendent, Dr Malcolm Sinclair and a foundation Trustee Dr Philip Sydney Jones, doctors of considerable significance.

Jones was a member of the University of Sydney Senate for many years, and Vice-
Chancellor from 1904 to 1906, a founder of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, a Trustee of the Australian Museum as well as being the Foundation President of the National Association for the Prevention and Cure of Consumption. (Garrett, Australian Dictionary of Biography, IV 490-491) Sir Philip Sydney Jones is a figure of State importance.

His son, George, who designed the complex over the years 1902 to 1921, was a major figure in the architectural profession and the Institute of Architecture in New South Wales and is of State significance, though less important than his father.

Malcolm Sinclair, a Glasgow-trained physician specialising in tuberculosis, was invited to come to Australia in 1903 to run the new Sanatorium. He supervised the first five formative years of the institution and then in 1908 left to found Bodington Sanatorium on his own estate also in Wentworth Falls (see VVF 047). After selling Bodington and serving in World War I, Dr Sinclair maintained a general medical practice in Wentworth Falls until his death in 1941 (Our Past Blue Mountaineers, VI I 25). Dr Sinclair is a figure of considerable Local significance.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Queen Victoria Hospital group is of outstanding importance as a purpose-designed sanatorium of the Edwardian period. While there have been substantial alterations and additions to the group, the original grouping of pavilions and cottages can be easily discerned.

At the centre of the group is a substantial late Victorian house, a good example of the period featuring generous verandahs, a smart doorcase and French windows.

The gardens, designed initially for Kelso and Irene King. and developed for the Sanatorium by H.A. James, remain significant.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Few substantial houses from the Victorian period survive in the Blue Mountains. Kelso King's country retreat at the centre of the sanatorium complex is a good surviving example.

The survival of the small 'open air' chalets for consumptive patients is extremely rare. There are three others at Bodington (WF 047), but none survives at the R.T. Hall Horne at Hazelbrook (H 002 ) The pavilions are of State importance.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The former Queen Victoria Sanatorium is a good example of a purpose-built sanatorium utilising separate pavilions to treat the disease.
Integrity/Intactness: Fair
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

A full study of the grounds and plantings is urgently required before any change of use occurs.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLEP1991WF02527 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study WF025   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983WF025Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992WF025Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Blue Mountains Heritage Review2003WF025Jack, Hubert, Lavelle, Morris  Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008WF025Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1927G Sydney Jones, FRIBA: the Value of his Work and Notes on Hospital Construction in Building Magazine, 12 February
Written 1911The National Builders; The Work of G Sydney Jones, in Building Magazine, 11 November
WrittenBlue Mountains Family History Society1992Our Past Blue Mountaineers, Vol 7
WrittenCultural Resources Pty ltd and Noel Bell Ridley Smith and Partners Pty Ltd2000Queen Victoria Nursing Home, Wentworth Falls, January
WrittenHazel King1983Hall, Walter Russell, in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 9
WrittenHazel King1983King, Sir George Eccles Kelso (1853-1943), in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 9
WrittenJack Austin, Brian Craven and Gwen Silvey1996A Brief History of the Township of Wentworth Falls
WrittenJohn Carrekk1972Jones, Sir Philip Sydney (1826-1918) in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 4
WrittenKen Kershaw2005Henry Alfred James (1850 to 1936): A Biography

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1170824


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