Gone but not forgotten

The old Thornleigh Hospital could not be saved from demolition despite a public outcry about its role in the area’s history.

A campaign launched by a relative of the former owner together with the local protest group could not save the fate of the modest three bedroom heritage cottage at 22 Bellevue Street.

An extraordinary meeting of the Council in mid August sealed its fate. “The house was never on our heritage list and was never drawn to our attention” explained Philip Ruddock on ABC Radio. When owners purchased the property it had been rezoned and the compliance certificate obtained.

Once demolished this week, in its place will be a $3.9m residential building. But Council is looking at several measures to ensure the woman who set up Hornsby’s first hospital, Nurse Jane Starkey Dawes, is not forgotten.

“Council’s decision regarding 22 Bellevue Street is a compromise that all parties can agree to,” said the council in a statement. The development will be able to go ahead and the significant local contribution of Jane Starkey Dawes will be recognised.

“The heritage significance was not related to the actual building, but to the impressive work that was carried out by the nurse who worked there. It is now guaranteed that her efforts will not be forgotten.”

The descendants of Nurse Dawes inspected the building and removed nonstructural items that are of sentimental significance to the family, including door knockers. The developer will also make a financial contribution to recognise her important life and work.

As part of a local history initiative, photos will be taken of the magnificent plasterwork on the ceiling to record this and other heritage features, and a park will be renamed in her honour.

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