Ashgrove Historical Society Inc. logo and name png

  • ArtS1 Grove Estate Plan 1888

    Advertisement for auction sale of lots in Grove Estate, on Saturday 4th February 1888.
    AHS archive no - AHS146

  • ArtS2 Grove Estate map c. 1900

    Grove Estate plan, c.1900. 

  • ArtS3 Ashgrove scouts 1909

    Ashgrove scouts, 1909
    AHS archive no: - 915

  • ArtS3 Seils Dairy Delivery Van 1930s

    Seils Dairy Milk Delivery Van, 1930s, a 1926 Willy’s Whippet,  owned by Seils' Dairy, Toomba Avenue, Ashgrove.  Milk was carried in the Dicky seat. 
    Source:  Neil & Jeanette Seils.

  • ArtS4 Waterworks Road, 1924

    Section of Waterworks Road showing the rough condition of the roadway.  1924.
    John Oxley Library digital image #201390

  • ArtS5 Old St Finbarrs Church Hall 1926

    Old St Finbarrs Church Hall,  Scan, 1926
    AHS Archive No: AHS523

  • ArtS6 Padmore Butcher Ashgrove Crescent c.1946

    WA Padmore, Quality Butcher, Ashgrove Crescent, c. 1946. 
    Source:  Desley Drevins.
    AHS Archive No: 559

  • ArtS7 Tram at Ashgrove West terminus, 1951

    Toast-rack tram No. 65 at the Ashgrove West tram terminus, in front of the Ashgrove West Uniting Church. 1969.

  • ArtS8 Grantuly Ashgrove

    Grantuly, the home of John Killough Stewart, son of Alexander Stewart of Glenlyon House.

Ashgrove Private Hospital


 History of Maternity Hospitals. 

Until the 1860s, childbirth happened at home with the help of family, friends and often a midwife or doctor. In the late 1800s, more options appeared -  large private hospitals,  religious or charitable institutions and  small establishments run by a midwife.  In the early 1900s, the medicalisation of childbirth began to take shape and many small hospitals opened in Queensland.  In 1922 the Maternity Act was passed which aimed to reduce maternal and infant mortality.  It provided for the establishment of Government maternity hospitals and baby clinics.  Small private hospitals declined as public hospital birthing took over.

Maternity Hospital in Ashgrove

Ashgrove became a popular place to live in the inter-war period.  It was appealing because of the natural terrain, the high standard of residential allotments, the provision of electricity from the mid-1920s, the tramline which was constructed in 1924, and there were several private and state schools.

In response to the area’s growing popularity, the first Ashgrove maternity hospital was established in about 1930 in Elimatta Drive, between Aloomba and Kadanga Roads.  Matron Vicar was the initial matron in 1930 and by 1934, Matron Chapman was in charge. The building was removed in 1984 to make way for the extension of Jubilee Terrace  through to Stewart Road.

The better known Ashgrove Private Hospital was built in 1928 on the corner of Elimatta Drive and Waterworks Road, as a home for Flora and Charles Grandison.  It was a high-set, well built, timber inter-war house built by A. Braun at the cost of £800.  The Grandisons sold it to Matron Chapman in 1933 when she  was 52.  By 1935, she had relocated the original Ashgrove Private Hospital to the new site.   It was mainly a maternity hospital but also accommodated minor surgery.

Mary Chapman

Mary Chapman was of the old-school and was very strict, yet very caring and professional. As  Matron, she ran an elegant and homely hospital.  The floors were highly polished.  The hospital was noted for its bone china, linen napkins, silver serviette rings, vases of beautiful flowers and gardens of roses.  Meal trays were delivered to the mothers in their rooms.

Matron Chapman lived on the premises and was always available. She often took the babies out to the waiting cars and put them in the mother’s arms – there were no baby capsules then. And husbands?  Just drop her off and go, thanks!  Matron worked at the hospital for the next 25 years until she was 79.

 Alice Mary Mickel

In 1936 Sister Alice Mickel, aged 36, was employed by Matron Chapman and became very well known in the district. She had trained as a midwife in 1929 at the Lady Bowen Lying-in Hospital in Wickham Terrace in Brisbane. When she came to work at the hospital, it was the start of a long association between the two women, both professionally and personally. 

Matron Chapman and Sister Mickel worked together at the hospital until 1958, when Matron Chapman, aged 78, sold it to Sister Mickel who then became Matron Mickel at the age of 58.  It is likely that Matron Mickel played a major role in the running of the hospital before she became Matron because of her relative youthfulness.  She was known as abrupt and gruff but a wonderful nurse. They were very different people but complimentary.They were a team, highly respected by the local doctors who delivered babies at the hospital.

 Mothers and Babies

Not all memories of Ashgrove Private Hospital are happy ones. In that era, the culture dictated that unmarried women who were pregnant were expected to relinquish their babies for adoption.  Many of these girls and women were sent to Ashgrove to deliver their babies.  Tears were often heard as they came to terms with the fact that they were not going to keep their baby. Some babies born there did not survive and Sister Mickel was always devastated when that happened.

Mothers stayed at the hospital for 2 weeks.  Babies were always  tightly wrapped to make them feel secure but they were allowed to kick in the sun on the back verandah with their nappies off.   Sometimes they were so busy that babies were delivered on the kitchen table.  The nurses quarters were downstairs and the three bedrooms still remain. 

 Sister Mickel promoted breast feeding and circumcision and was always keen for the mothers to return after a few week to see how they were progressing.

Other staff members at the hospital included Sister Kirby and Sister Nichols, Nurse Jeffries, Nurse Ross and Nurse Evans.  Mrs Fairburn was the cook and Mrs Meacham and her daughter Daisy ran the laundry in the early days.  Family members tended the gardens.

Many doctors were also involved with the delivery of babies. These included Doctors Douglas, Charlton, Wilson, Morrow, Cohen, Cilento, Kay and Johnston.

 The Final Chapter

Matron Chapman stayed on in her room downstairs after retiring, as she had since 1935.  She died in 1971 aged 90.  Sister Mickel lived in her room at the bottom of the internal stairs.  Sister Mickel had a heart attack when she was 65 and moved to her sister’s place nearby.  While there, she had a major gall bladder operation from which she never fully recovered.  She developed cancer of the lung.  She closed the hospital on 30 June 1966 and put it up for sale.  It was eventually purchased by Rev. Ivan Alcorn for the Methodist Church in 1969.  Matron Mickel died in March 1970 aged 70 and is buried in the cemetery attached to The Gap Uniting Church.

The building has been through a series of occupations since it was a hospital, including Youth with a Mission.  It is now a private boarding house. 

People still knock on the door and say they were born there. They enquire about their birth records but these apparently disappeared when the hospital was sold.  They have been untraceable.


 The Society would be pleased to receive any further information or images.