Police to patients to Primary Industries: Hospital site’s history | Video, photos

From police paddocks to the base hospital and now the new home of the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), one major city block has seen a pile of change.

The land bounded by Dalton, Prince, Anson and Sale streets is to get another lease of life after Tuesday’s announcement of a major government office development.

Orange and District Historical Society president and author of the local health history publication, In Sickness and in Health, Liz Edwards, said the site was originally the police barracks in Orange.

“The Police Paddock held the police inspector’s quarters, mounted sergeants’ quarters, stables and a garage,” she said.

Orange’s first hospital, the district hospital, was built in 1867 on the eastern side of Anson Street.

VIDEO: The demolition of the former Orange Base Hospital ...

However, by 1933 the community had outgrown the old buildings and Orange’s first base hospital was built on the current block.

“The 1933 building was a series of single-storey, I believe, brick blocks.”

Ms Edwards said over the years more buildings were added to the site culminating in the major four-storey addition in December 1970.

“Every time they built a new part to the hospital it got filled up and they were clamouring for more space,” she said.

Its time was finally up in March 2011 when the hospital closed its doors and the patients were transferred to the current Orange Health Service site on Forest Road.

That last day was tinged with sadness for many who had worked and been cared for at the complex.

Medical services director Dr Louis Christie was the last clinician to leave.

Now that you’ve got the patients out you can see how absolutely exhausted the building is.

Medical services director Dr Louis Christie in 2011

“The captain’s definitely not going down with the ship,” he said in 2011.

“It’s a little bit sad, but it’s also quite interesting.

“Now that you’ve got the patients out you can see how absolutely exhausted the building is.”

Switchboard operator Robyn James had worked there for 40 years and was looking forward to moving to the new hospital.

“I’m a little emotional, but I’m very happy for the people of Orange because it’s an incredible new facility.

“I’ve made a lot of friends here.”

Patients were ferried to the new hospital over two days.

Apart from reports of squatters the old hospital sat idle until the wreckers moved in last year to raze the buildings ahead of the site’s next lease of life.