Waverley War Memorial And The Generosity Of The Vickery Family

Waverley War Memorial
Ebenezer Vickery and wife Jane (Photo credit: waverley.nsw.gov.au)

Did you know that the Waverley War Memorial Hospital, now known as the Uniting War Memorial Hospital, was a gift from the Vickery Family?

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Ebenezer Frank Vickery, a solicitor and philanthropist resolved that if his two brothers came back home from the First World War, he would convince the rest of the family to donate the property, called ‘Edina’ in memory of his father, Ebenezer Vickery Jr. who died in 1915.

Vickery family, 1901, at Ebenezer and Jane’s golden wedding anniversary (Photo credit: waverley.nsw.gov.au)

Edina was a late Victorian mansion built by his grandfather, Ebenezer Vickery. It was named after Edinburgh Scotland, in honour of Ebenezer’s wife, Jane, and her heritage. It was the family’s residence for around six decades.

The senior Ebenezer spared no expense on Edina. It’s been known that he would travel all the way to Italy with his architect to buy marble fireplaces and chandeliers. He also came home with some second hand tiles for the verandahs and main hall that had been taken from the ancient city of Pompeii.

Ebenezer Vickery at the Aborigines Mission Station, Cairns, 1904 (Photo credit: waverley.nsw.gov.au)

Beyond their wealth, the Vickery family was known for their strong commitment to the Methodist Church. In fact, Ebenezer Vickery was dubbed as a ‘staunch Methodist’ with a strong evangelical dedication to his church.

In 1919, all members of the family donated the magnificent home and grounds of Edina to the Methodist Church.

Early Years

In 1920, Elizabeth Hunter who just returned home after serving from war, was named as the hospital’s first Matron. A hospital licence is granted for 19 beds and four cots. Ms Hunter, also known as Lila, served as the administrator of the hospital for many years.

Stage One of the hospital opened in the Ellerslie Building in February 1921. Ellerslie, aside from Edina, was one of the buildings built by the senior Ebenezer Vickery. He also owned two more buildings, ‘Banksia’ and ‘Wytchazel.’

The first nurses at the hospital (Photo credit: www.seslhd.health.nsw.gov.au

On Armistice Day in 1925 the first 13 nurses graduated from the War Memorial Hospital.

By 1935, a new hospital block, the Jeanie Morgan Building, opened at the Waverley War Memorial Hospital. It was named after Jeanie Nellie Vickery Morgan, daughter of Ebenezer and Jane Vickery.

Hospital’s Growth and Expansion

Extensions were added to the hospital in the 1950s. This includes another Operating Theatre and Sterilising Room, and a change room for female doctors. A residential aged care home was also established on site by 1963.

In 1969, The hospital became a public health organisation within the NSW Health system and has become part of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD), operating as a specialist aged rehabilitation service.

Waverley War Memorial
Photo credit: uniting.org

The year 2000s was the decade that heralds the consolidation and growth of the hospital’s allied health services, delivered by multidisciplinary teams. 

It was in 2019 when the hospital celebrated 100 years since the Vickery family gifted Methodist Church their home. 

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Today, the Uniting War Memorial Hospital building represents one of the largest remaining suburban Victorian spaces in Eastern Sydney.