This group of gentlemen, I was told, are the builders of the Memorial Hospital in Hastings (albeit some of them looking past their best building days) in 1927, posing with a vicar, two ladies, and the seated man in the middle, appears to be past Hastings mayor, and chairman of the Hawke's Bay Fallen Soldiers' Memorial Hospital Executive Committee, George Ebbett.
The building company was Hillen and Howard, and the hospital was designed by government architect, J T Muir (who also designed the old Post office building, now Hastings Health Centre). The cottage hospital opened on ANZAC Day in 1928, and controversially, the mayor of Hastings, Mr G A Maddison, was not invited to speak at the opening. The hospital would be mainly used for maternity cases, and only limited space existed for emergency cases. The Hawke's Bay Herald stated Rather than being imposing, the hospital was neat, bright, cosy-looking and honestly pretty. (The main part of the original hospital is now the chapel.)
The aftermath of the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake saw Hastings more determined to secure a full-service hospital. Miss Henrietta Kelly, who on the day of the earthquake was living in the Masonic Hotel, and unable to escape the fire, and perished although her body was never found. Her death was significant for Hastings, as in her will was left a small fortune to the Memorial Hospital in Hastings , which despite legal opinions by the Hospital Board to try restrict the Kelly bequeath, enabled Hastings to expand into a full-service hospital.
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