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In November 2019 I was contacted by Karen Landi of Ei8ht Community whose offices are based at the old Transvaal Memorial Children’s Hospital, a historic building at the bottom of Braamfontein across the road from the former Queen Victoria Maternity Hospital.
Karen had just launched the Children’s Memorial Institute website at the request of the CMI board and was looking for additional information on some of the spaces within the precinct.
I had covered the Transvaal Memorial Children’s Hospital along with other medical buildings in my Hospital Hill piece. One of the popular requests resulting from the piece was information on birth records from the Queen Victoria which I assumed didn’t exist anymore.
Karen introduced me to Glen Ngwenya who oversees the hospitals’ archive which was assembled and organised by museum professional Jordan Saltzman. Glen came to the building through one of the youth programmes and has shown an unbelievable interest in the archive and the building’s history.
In November 2016, Jordan volunteered to project manage the Children’s Memorial Institute Heritage Project. She has been integral in going through the CMI’s archives and developing structures and systems to protect and share the information in the Children’s Memorial Institute Archives.
The archive was assembled by the building’s board who made sure to relocate items safely when they needed to be moved from their original location. It’s still in the process of being organised and assistance is needed to go through and catalogue remaining the items.
This fascinating archive includes the birth records from the Queen Victoria Maternity home as well as diaries, records, and scrapbooks covering Johannesburg’s early medical history.
The CMI buildings are home to around 30 different organisations including Childline, Autism South Africa, Afrika Tikkun, Johannesburg Child Advocacy Forum, and the Teddy Foundation to name a few.
Visit the Children’s Memorial Institute website HERE.
Like their Facebook page HERE.
For heritage or other inquiries go HERE
The visit also gave me an opportunity to photograph some of the buildings to update the Hospital Hill piece. Below is the updated Children’s Memorial Hospital history from the piece.
The Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children was opened on 23 October 1923 by H.R.H Prince Arthur of Connaught. The project was started in 1919 by the Johannesburg Branch of the National Council of Woman as a memorial to those killed in WW1. Prior to the TMI, children’s beds were allocated to Ward 26 at the first General Hospital on Hospital Hill.
The Johannesburg Municipality gave 12500 Pounds and 8 acres of land for the hospital. The balance came from mining houses, charitable organisation, and the public. Near the completion of the building, it was realised that there was no money for equipment. A bequest from Mrs. Louisa Beck who died in the UK in May 1923 saved the day.
The hospital was handed over to the Provincial Administration at the opening ceremony. It consisted of a Memorial Hall on the ground floor, six wards with a 112-bed capacity, two operating theatres, radiology and physiotherapy departments as well as a nurses home. The buildings were all designed by Cowin, Ellis & Powers. Dr. E.P. Baumann, who developed pediatrics in Johannesburg as a study and a service in its own right, led the medical team.
Children’s mortuaries for both Jewish and Christian denominations were built. The Christian mortuary is part of the original plans but the Jewish mortuary and Christian Chapel plan and build dates are not known.
In 1926, the Ross-Rotary Ward opened. The ward opened onto a solarium which was beneficial to patients suffering from Perthes’ Disease and TB.
E. P. Baumann Convalescent home opened in 1938 along with a Theatre block. In 1941 a 90-bed ward block was completed.
In May 1965, the new building was opened for Outpatients, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, a Central Sterilizing Department, a laboratory and a Child and Family Unit.
In 1978-9 the Children’s Hospital was incorporated into the new Johannesburg Hospital in Parktown. The buildings were left vacant for a while as new uses were developed.
The Children’s Memorial Institute is currently home to approximately 30 organisations, most of which are NGOs but are all non-profit. These organisations provide a multitude of services to children with special needs and disabilities, mainly in the educational, medical, social, psychological and legal sectors.
Read the rest of the Hospital Hill piece HERE