JUST how many local babies were brought into the world from Nurse Taylor’s purposely built ‘Hillside Private Hospital’ at Bulli will probably never been known. There would have been hundreds.
One, I know, was my late uncle, James ‘Bing’ Orvad.
While Nurse Taylor’s beautiful weatherboard cottage remains as a testimony to her dedication towards the life of other people, little has been written or researched about this remarkable woman.
Hillside Private Hospital operated from 1928 until 1956 at 5 Tyrwhitt Avenue, Bulli. Today it is a private residence.
Known by all as ‘Nurse Taylor’, Margaret Jane Taylor first appeared in the district just prior to the Great War when she was appointed “senior nurse” at Bulli Hospital on December 13 1911. She may have been working as a nurse at the Waterfall ‘Home for Consumptives’ prior to her Bulli appointment.
Little is known about her early life. I’m unsure where she was born, and it seems she never married.
Nurse Taylor had a short stay at Bulli Hospital and resigned her position in 1913. She was back at Bulli Hospital in 1919 during the influenza pandemic, and continued working as a nurse, specialising in midwifery for the following decade around the Bulli district.
In May 1928, at the age of 64, Nurse Taylor engaged local builder, W. Williams to construct her beautiful private hospital in the recently subdivided residential estate on Bulli Hill. By the end of the year she was taking patients.
In 1930, Nurse Taylor applied for permission to Bulli Shire Council to have two small direction boards placed at the northern intersections of Beattie Avenue and the Prince’s Highway. The posts and boards were to be painted white, with black lettering — “To Hillside Private Hospital”. I’m unsure whether Nurse Taylor was given permission to have the signs placed at the corner. Can anyone recall a sign for the hospital at this corner?
Meanwhile, 72-year-old Nurse Taylor ended up a patient in her own hospital in 1936. The llawarra Mercury reported on Friday 15 May 1936:
Nurse Taylor, matron of ‘Hillside’, private hospital, Bulli, has the sympathy of a large circle of friends, as she is a patient in her own institution, with head wound and a bruised left leg. We understand that while walking along Prince’s Highway, in the direction of Thirroul at about 7 o’clock last Sunday night, she was struck by a car, travelling in the same direction and driven by Mr. F. Lambert, of Belmore, who was about to ascend Bulli Pass; It is stated the collision occurred on the right-hand side of the roadway and that Nurse Taylor was acting according to the new instruction by the police to pedestrians to walk on the same side as the on coming vehicle. Bulli police were promptly on the scene and have the matter in hand. All her friends wish Nurse Taylor, a speedy recovery.
Nurse Taylor was still working from her private hospital at the age of 89, and died in 1956 at the age of 92.
Bulli resident, Bronwen Chamberlain was born opposite Nurse Taylor’s Hillside Hospital in 1930. She writes: “My mother Edith Morgans was operated in the hospital in 1928 and would have been one of the first patients. However the operation was to help my mother have another child, and that was me in 1930.
Nurse Taylor was the local midwife living in Lachlan Street, Thirroul and she was approached by Dr Crossle to build a maternity hospital. On the 17/6/1927 Nurse Margaret Taylor purchased one block of land 50/100/168 for seventy five pounds and the second block of land 40/165/175 was bought from George W. Dixon for one hundred pounds on the 3/8/1927.
On these two blocks the Hillside Hospital was built. Mr Williams was the builder as well as Nurse Taylor’s backer. Dr Crossle was to send his patients to Nurse Taylor, however he divorced and moved away from the area. This made it very difficult for Nurse as she was counting on Dr Crossle’s help.
The hospital was mainly for maternity patients. The operating theatre was at the front on the southern side. I walked across the road in 1933 and had my tonsils out at the hospital. As a child the sun always worried me. Nurse Taylor told my mother I was to lie on the grass and look at the sun and that this would strengthen my eyes and I would no longer squint. I can remember trying but luckily found it impossible to do.
Nurse Taylor made her own soap for the hospital. The smell was most unpleasant. I have written all I can remember about Nurse Taylor, who as a teenager I would often visit, in the book I wrote this year about the history of Tyrwhitt Avenue.
If anyone can add further information – or even a picture – to the story of Nurse Taylor, I would be appreciative.
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