History of Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital


BankstownA District Hospital was first considered for the Bankstown and Canterbury area in 1914, however this plan was delayed due to World War I. There was disagreement between Bankstown and Canterbury residents as to the location of the Hospital, so it was decided that District Hospitals would be developed for both areas.

Local organisations began raising funds to purchase a new site within the Bankstown area, until the Great Depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In 1936, efforts to purchase land were reignited and the Bankstown District Hospital Movement was established.

In 1938, the New South Wales (NSW) Governor and State Government approved the development of a District Hospital. Although no funding was provided, thanks to the efforts of the Bankstown District Hospital Movement, a deposit of £13,000 was used to purchase land on Gleeson Avenue.

BankstownThe first Hospital Board was elected in April 1939 and the NSW Governor elected representatives to support the Board's efforts. Not long after, the land on Gleeson Avenue was sold as it was deemed too small for its purpose. In March 1942, six-and-a-half acres of land on Marion Street was purchased for £450. This land had previously been a quarry and had a commanding position in the Bankstown landscape.

Meanwhile, the Bankstown and Canterbury Labor Party and the Bankstown Hospital Board combined forces to lobby for an Outpatients Department and Dispensary. This was to be separate from the planned Hospital, which was stalled once again due to World War II.

A small parcel of land on Appian Way was purchased from the Bankstown Municipal Council in January 1943, with the foundation stone laid in October of the same year. The Bankstown Outpatients Department was opened in May 1944 by The Hon. J.J. McGirr, Minister for Local Government and Housing. 

The Outpatients Department was very basic and staffing was often limited to one or two nursing staff and the occasional visiting doctor. The Department had no septic system and blackouts were common. The Hospital Board was given the responsibility of managing the Outpatients Department and the development of the District Hospital, with many Board Members personally attending to the maintenance of the Outpatients Department.

In November 1942, the Royal Australian Air Force commandeered the land purchased on Marion Street to develop a Command Post. As a result, Local Governments and organisations lobbied the Commonwealth Government to provide a new block on which the Hospital could be built.

An eight-acre block of land called 'Gloriana Estate' was identified by the Commonwealth Government as an ideal site and purchased in 1943. By June 1950, plans had progressed and the foundation stone for the Bankstown District Hospital was laid.

Due to the impact of World War II and difficulties in sourcing building supplies, construction of the Hospital took longer than expected. Bankstown District Hospital was officially opened on September 7, 1957.

The Hospital quickly grew from 80 beds-30 maternity beds, 20 male beds, 25 female beds and five paediatric beds-to 200 beds by November 1958. The Outpatients Department was moved to the District Hospital site in June 1960 and the Appian Way land sold in 1962.

In May 1966, the Hospital was renamed The Bankstown Hospital. Plans for a new two-storey building were confirmed and a $50,000 grant from the Hospital Commission was used to develop operating theatres.

A teaching relationship was also established with University of NSW (UNSW). At this time, Bankstown District Hospital was one of only 13 hospitals in NSW where nurses could earn a registration that was recognised in England.

Original development of The Bankstown Hospital took place over the following years:

  • 1963 - Emergency Department
  • 1976 - Banks House Psychiatric Unit and new administration building
  • 1980 - Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Care Unit and Chapel


By 1982, The Bankstown Hospital was a 348-bed acute general Hospital boasting 25 paediatric beds, 40 psychiatric beds and a full teaching unit for Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In 1992, the decision was made to combine The Bankstown Hospital and Lidcombe Hospital in a $63 million redevelopment.

As part of the redevelopment, existing buildings were demolished and a 454-bed, four-storey Hospital was built on Eldridge Road. Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital was officially opened in 1997.


The land on which Lidcombe Hospital stood was originally bought by the NSW State Government in 1878 and named Rookwood. Plans in 1885 developed the land into a reformatory for boys, which then lay unoccupied for six years.

In 1892, due to the growing demand for accommodation catering to the destitute elderly, the site was renamed Rookwood Asylum for the Aged and Infirm. By 1896, the site was home to 581 inmates and declared the main home for the aged poor in NSW. Although its capacity was 800, by 1901 the population had increased to 1161, with records suggesting that more than 12,000 men applied to be admitted to asylums in NSW each year.

Rookwood Asylum offered accommodation and food at a cost, with all able-bodied inmates expected to work and contribute to the day-to-day running of the asylum and the farm that sustained its population. There were strict rules about behaviour, consumption of alcohol and permission for leave. Inmates who were chronically ill and could not work received low-level medical care given by a visiting medical officer who served inmates in both Newington and Rookwood Asylums.

The patient to staff ratio at Rookwood Asylum was often about 40:1 and by 1913, when almost half of the 1350 inmates were medically admitted, the Asylum changed its status from a Public Charity to a Public Health Institution. It was renamed Lidcombe State Hospital and Home in 1927 to reflect these changes.

The move away from asylums as a model of care saw Lidcombe State Hospital and Home acquiring the last of the inmates in NSW, following the closure of the Macquarie Street Asylum and the George Street Home in the 1930s. Its population at this time was about 1895 and had an equal distribution of hospital and home beds.

Minor extensions and repairs, including a new church, a recreation block and a modernised kitchen and dining hall, were carried out in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1966, the Hospital was again renamed to Lidcombe Hospital and admitted its first female patient. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the local community insisted that the Hospital serve the general public. This outcome was not achieved until 1967, when a community day hospital was opened.

From this point, the hospital expanded rapidly. Lidcombe Hospital became known for its advanced geriatric nursing training and developed a teaching relationship with the University of Sydney. The Hospital became a major teaching and research facility and expanded clinical services throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1997, Lidcombe Hospital was merged with Bankstown and moved to its current location, within a 454-bed, four-storey Hospital on Eldridge Street.



  • Peters, M 1994, The History of Bankstown Hospital, Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital, South Western Sydney Area Health Service, NSW.
  • Marcar, G & Ballard, J 1995, A historical tour of Lidcombe Hospital, Lidcombe Hospital Heritage Group, NSW
  • Keast, D 1993, Lidcombe Hospital centenary 1893 to 1993: a pictorial history, Lidcombe Hospital, South Western Sydney Area Health Service, NSW



NSW Ministry of Health |   SWSLHD on YouTube   SWSLHD on Facebook   SWSLHD on Twitter
Disclaimer | Privacy Statement | Accessibility | Sitemap
© 2018 South Western Sydney Local Health District
Page last updated: 30 May, 2014