When asked to picture a hospital, most people would visualise a massive building filled with doctors and patients. However if one takes a walk around the Melbourne suburb of Parkville, you will find three hospitals that are only inhabited by security guards.
The first of Melbourne’s abandoned hospital is the former Royal Dental Hospital, located opposite the Haymarket roundabout on the corner of Flemington Road and Royal Parade. Opened in 1963, the cream brick and aluminium curtain walled building is a typical example of hospital architecture of the period, despite the plans having been drawn up a decade earlier. Decommissioning of the former Royal Dental Hospital came in 2003, when it moved to a new site on Swanston Street, opposite Melbourne University.
As for the empty building, it remained empty and contaminated with asbestos until December 2008, when the State Government announced they would spend $10.5 million to demolish the building, making way for the Parkville Comprehensive Cancer Centre. Demolition commenced in February 2010 with the building gone by June 2010.
The next hospital in Melbourne to be abandoned was the Royal Women’s. Located on the corner of Swanston and Grattan Street in Carlton, the hospital has operated on this site since 1858, with the main block seen today having admitted their first patients in 1968, with the official opening of the ‘3AW Community Service Board Block’ coming in 1972.
Replacement of the Royal Women’s was announced in 2005, with the hospital to be rebuilt down the street on a new site beside the Royal Melbourne Hospital on Flemington Road. The new site opened in 2008, with the former hospital site in Carlton having sat empty since that time, the future of the site being unknown.
2011 saw the creation of Melbourne’s third abandoned hospital: the former Royal Children’s on Flemington Road. Opened on the Parkville site beside Royal Park in 1963, plans for a new hospital on a site next door to the existing one were announced in 2005.
Construction work on the new Royal Children’s commenced in 2007, with the new site opening in late 2011. Currently empty, the majority of the old hospital will be demolished and the site returned to the parklands, the exception being two of the newer buildings – the entrance foyer on Flemington Road, and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute building beside it.
All up, three brand new hospitals have opened in Melbourne in less than a decade, with three old ones having been closed. Initially I thought “why spend millions building replacements for existing hospitals when we can’t even pay nurses properly”, but when I consider the topic it a little more, a 50 year old building was never designed for modern health care practices, and would be rather depressing for patients.
I finally found a photo of the old Royal Dental Hospital, it was taken by Flickr user ‘Fluoride’ in 2006: