'REX' TURNBULL TALKS ABOUT HIS FATHER, REG.TURNBULL, TOOWOOMBA HOSPITAL BOARD CHAIRMAN. HE ALSO TALKS ABOUT HOSPITAL PEOPLE KNOWN TO HIM
I was bom on 13th July, 1917 at Vale Street, Toowoomba. Dr David Hom was the doctor and Mrs Atwell was the midwife. Dr Hom lived in Ruthven Street near where John McKinney has his shop on the western side of Ruthven Street. There used to be a little cottage there and as years progressed apparently he moved to ‘Hamewith’. His surgery remained upstairs adjoining McKinney House in Ruthven Street. His two sons followed him. The late Dr Ian was a squadron leader in the Air Force in World War II. He was surgeon to the Queen whilst she was on her visit to Australia. The late Dr David Hom’s wife died recently. I went to school with David Hom‘s daughter. She was known as ‘Fairy’ Hom. Myself and my brother and sister were in the family. My brother has died. My sister still lives in the family home at 148 West Street, just 3 doors down from the hospital gates.
Mrs Edward Farmer owned Concordia College which was called ‘Redlands’ at that time. She had one daughter and 2 sons. One of them was Dr Don Farmer. My father was Reginald Tumbull. He was born at Scaling Farm, Loftus in Yorkshire, England. He came out to Australia when very young, about 18 or 19. He joined the A.I.F. in 1914 and celebrated his 21st birthday on the waters outside Gallipoli. The troops were waiting for the second landing. He was an original Anzac. He was discharged from the Army due to bronchitis. He did however go to Egypt. He used to tell me they’d sleep in their saddles because the Turks would pinch their saddles otherwise.
The House Committee worked with domestic staff and checked work required around the hospital. I know my father and matron Macintosh would walk around the hospital mainly of a Sunday afternoon. Father practically lived at the Hospital. He was there 6 or 7 days per week.
As Railways representative he would often take Railways pay up to the Hospital. I have a photo of the Hospital Board of that era which includes Matron Macintosh, Joe Platz, James Douglas Annand, (Mayor for many years) and Mr Prentice. Matron Macintosh was matron for a long time. She always left a present on my front doorstep every Xmas for my family and myself. Next was Dick Godsall who was a former Mayor I think, Andy Gregg, Harry Obst of Wyreema, Dr Caldwell, Andy Drone (Government representative - worked at Peterson's Boot Works on the corner of Bowen & Ruthven Streets, north east corner). Also Jim Mearer. I've since met his son on the bowling green. Also Mr Austin, Hospital Board Secretary and Mr Reg Turnbull, photo taken in the late 20's. Also Dr Freshney in photo. Photo taken in front of A ward. Front of hospital facing east.
Reg Turnbull was a member of the A.L.P. for many years. At one stage he stood for parliament against Tom Roberts, in about 1927 or 1929. He had to resign from the Railways. He was duly defeated by Mr Roberts. Mr Roberts arranged for him to get his job back again on the Railways because, he said, of the clean way he fought the election. Mr Turnbull only did reasonably well at the poll. In those days it was first past the post. He was very active in the A.L.P. A very strong unionist. He held a 1921 A.R.U. ticket, which was 10/- per half year.
The photo we're looking at now was taken on the occasion of the visit of the Governor, Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, who is holding the hat & walking stick. Mr Tom Roberts M.L.A. is on the extreme right. My mother and Mrs Buchanan, Miss Vera Gallagher (Hospital Secretary.), Sisterr Cook (Matron), Charlie Maunder, Jock Buchanan, .John Stansbie (worked at State Wheat Board), E. .J. Llewellyn (Labour Member for Toowoomba). Prior to that Mr Llewellyn was Superintendent of the Ambulance and after serving as member, then being beaten by Annand, he was reinstated as Ambulance Superintendent. Mick Lynch who worked at the Downs Store where Jack Duggan was working. My father is beside the governor.
Father died, a young man, on 2nd January 1951, aged 57. He was buried in the Church of England section on the northern part. A black headstone about halfway down on the right hand side - travelling west - where the big trees are. On the same side as Les Woods is buried. Mum is also buried there.
Dad was very active in the R.S.L. He became President. Dedicated his life to the R.S.L. Participated in parades. The Chronicle of 27th April 1936 contains a full page of Anzac Day news. Father would have been President at that time.
Dad was a Toowoomba City Councillor from 1936 to 1949. He was elected on an A.L.P. ticket. Jim Watson, Andy Drone, Harry Goldsworthy and father were candidates. He did not seek re-election in 1949. There was another group called the Aldermanic team - another name for the Country Party/Liberals, headed by J. D. Annand. It consisted of E.A. Cohoe, E.E. Gold, Bill Jenkins, Wally Symons, Dave Stewart, Ben Tomkys, S.S. Webb and J. Winchester. The Progress Association also had a team in the 1952 elections. There was no ward system on the Council at that time. However my father was a great believer in the ward system.
I have a letter from the Minister for Transport, Jack Duggan, which was written to father. He stated that father had given great service to the Hospital Board and the A.L.P in general over 25 years and suggesting that, because of ill health, it may be appropriate for father to resign at this time. The letter was written as, Jack Duggan the friend, rather than as Minister for Transport. Father decided to take his advice and resign from the Hospital Board.
When George Cossart was Chairman there was a boiler-man named H. Ulysses Grant employed at the Hospital. Grant was not happy with the way theatre waste was disposed of. it was burned in the boiler. To emphasize his point he presented to Mr Cossart a mug lined with silver paper!. Mr Cossart was the foundation owner of Cossart’s Saddlery in Russell street. He had two daughters, one very much involved with Maternity.
Previously the Mothers’ Hospital was in James Street - a wooden building, (a Sister Heaven was in charge), near where the present nurses quarters are. They demolished the original Mothers’ Hospital many years ago. The other mothers’ hospital which was recently demolished was also a psychiatric ward.
I can recall the old D ward in front of the old hospital. It had no windows and canvas blinds. To the east of that building was the hospital garden. I can recall Pike and Wirth, who were gardeners. Mr Nichol was also a gardener. His workshop was near the hospital gates in West Street. He was the man with a scythe who cut the buffalo grass. The Hospital lived on the vegies grown there. I used to play in the hospital grounds and played in the excavations of the old Mothers Hospital when they were building it. I also played in the foundations of the nurses quarters which are now Cossart House.
I worked for the laundry at the hospital when only a young lad. I went round with Sid Geitz, wardsman, in a Morris utility to collect the dirty linen. I was very wary of it especially from the isolation ward. The ward was located on the south west comer of the hospital grounds. it was made of corrugated iron & staff had to be cautious when approaching it. Later on when I had completed my apprenticeship with Hiram Philp I worked as a carpenter at the hospital for about 6 weeks. I would have liked to have stayed on at the hospital but I was beaten for the carpentry job by a chap called Wally Dunbar. My father was asked why he didn't intervene as hospital board member. He replied, 'He can stand on his own two feet.'
They even had chain wire on the verandah of the isolation ward to keep people out. I was very cautious when working there. In the laundry Ken Garrett was head laundryman and Mrs Wells was also in the laundry. Winnie Jack should be interviewed - she remembers Ray Cooper whose mother was employed at the Doctor's cottage. She has passed on but Ray is still alive. (9 Ensenada Court, Broadbeach Waters.) Others who could be interviewed include Sid Ash. His father owned a comer store on the comer of West and James Streets, previously owned by Mrs Connole whose daughter is Sisterr Eva Connole. Sister Connole lives in retirement in a Catholic home at 1/84 Rome Street. She was Deputy Matron and Matron at the hospital for many years. Old Pop Ash used to walk up to the hospital carrying fruit & lollies and go into all the wards. The shop has now been demolished. He owned the shop across the road before owning the comer shop. Next to his first shop was a boot repair shop owned by Bill Hansen for many many years.
Reg Tumbull kept a diary of his hospital inspection tours. For example, he noted on 22nd December 1938:
- Carpet for Sisterr Day
- Vermin in beds of Mothers' Hospital
- Report book re Sr Kelly's wages
- Matron's Certificate
- Toowoomba Foundry Group offers help- if this continues then Hospital will prosper.
30th May 1926
- Telephone to boiler room
- maternity ward
In a local newspaper report of 1917/1919 it was reported that an Art Union run by the Federated Engine Drivers Association raised over 600 pounds for the hospital. Nurses collected 5 pounds at the draw. Wages at that time would be only 2 pounds per week.
Another newspaper report in July 1919 indicated that the first Sunday of each month be allocated for citizens to visit the hospital. On the first of such Sundays, 10 pounds was donated to purchase beds in memory of fallen soldiers and the Overseas Band played acceptable musical items in the afternoon.
An interview with Reginald Claude Tindell Royal, (known as 'Rex') Turnbull, at 43 Joyce Street, at 9 am. on 3rd March 1994.
Other items of interest
- Ted Young couldn't read or write
- Freshney Ward was known as the fracture ward
- James T. Finemore, dentist at the Toowoomba General Hospita, also sought election to the Toowoomba City Council on an A.L.P. ticket. Upon leaving the hospital, in later years, he returned to Ipswich to become Mayor of Ipswich as an Independent for many years.
- J. T. Buchanan, a railway fitter who was also a Board member, sought election to the Toowoomba City Council. A.L.P., he took his place on the Council in 1943. He was ninth on the election poll. Due to a vacancy occurring the Council elected him as an alderman. He was never re-elected.
- Grandfather Royal married on 14th June 1893. Grandmother Royal was Amelia Rose Carstens.
- Carson Lane ended at the rear of Royal's Bakery in Delacey Street.
- Last A.L.P. ticket for the Toowoomba City Council was the election in 1952. Arthur Jones being a successful candidate. There were only five candidates offering the A.L.P. ticket.
- Before Cossart House was built there was a temporary nurses' quarters behind Connole's store. A house was moved there
(Material prepared by John Clements)