Dr. David Thomas: The founder of Manly Cottage Hospital was involved in many facets of Manly life

90 years ago, the northern beaches lost a man who was a pillar of the local professional, civil and sporting life for more than four decades – Dr. David Thomas.

90 years ago, the northern beaches lost a man who was a pillar of the local professional, civil and sporting life for more than four decades – Dr. David Thomas.

And the impact of Dr. Thomas was nowhere better illustrated than in the founding of Manly Cottage Hospital, of which he is celebrated as both founder and father.

While certainly not the only person involved, his role in its founding and his position as senior media officer from 1896-1928 places him at the forefront of those present at the hospital’s birth in 1896.

Dr. Thomas was actually present at the birth of many of Manly’s clubs and organizations.

Born, raised and educated in Wales, Thomas hardly spoke English, he learned it only as a teenager, but continued to study medicine in London and qualified as a doctor in 1884, while working at London Hospital and as a surgeon in 1887.

In 1889, Thomas married Charlotte Hetherington, a nurse at London Hospital, and a few months later they went to Australia on the sailing ship Patriarch, which took 90 days to complete the voyage.

When he arrived in Manly in 1890, Thomas started practice and immersed himself in local life.

He became a councilor in the Manly Council in 1892, but resigned in late 1894 under the guise of taking leave, saving the council from a costly by-election just six months before a council election.

From the time he arrived in Manly, Thomas offered his services free of charge to the poor and needy in Manly in a room he asked to be sold at a local nursing home, where he was joined by others concerned about the lack of medical facilities in Manly . , especially for those who could not afford to pay.

Along with other doctors, politicians and residents, Thomas campaigned for a public hospital in Manly to treat all residents, rich and poor.

Funded by local fundraisers and private donations, Manly Cottage Hospital at the top of Raglan St was named a public hospital in June 1896 and officially opened on December 12th.

For the next three decades, Thomas devoted himself to the constant improvement of the hospital, remained the chief physician until 1928, as well as campaigning for a new state-funded hospital to serve the entire peninsula.

Along the way, he co-founded the Manly Ambulance Service in 1908 and was president of the NSW branch of the British Medical Association in 1914.

And when the foundation stone of the new Manly Hospital at the top of Darley Rd was unveiled on January 28, 1928, it was fitting that Health Minister Richard Arthur shared the honor with Dr. Thomas.

Despite his demanding medical activities, Thomas still found the time to be involved in the sporting and civilian life of Manly, and his sports interests were particularly broad.

He was president of the Manly Cricket Club from 1897-1922, an early member of the Manly Tennis Club, a founding member and official of the Manly Amateur Swimming Club, and the first president of the Manly Golf Club in 1906, of which he was made. lifelong member in 1925.

Not to be outdone, Thomas’ wife Charlotte was an early member of the Manly Croquet Club and later served as club president.

In civilian life, Thomas served another term on the Manly Council from 1905 to 1908, a period as president of the Manly Literary Institute and was actively involved in local Friendly Societies, serving as an honorary physician for the lodges.

During World War I, Thomas went to England to offer his services as a doctor, served as a doctor on the troop ship Moravian on the voyage to England, and on arrival he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.

He became a member of the Scottish Traveling Medical Boards and had the rank of lieutenant.

When he returned to Manly, Thomas was a founding member of the Manly Memorial Hall Trust, which was responsible for the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall, built in Raglan St in 1927.

But in 1928, Thomas was forced by ill health to resign his position at Manly Cottage Hospital.

He died in February 1931, just months before the opening of the new Manly Hospital in Darley Rd, for which he had worked so hard.

After his death, the Manly Daily described the death of “Manly’s grand old man” as “the end of a great and eventful career” in which he gave his life far more than he took.

The funeral at St Matthew’s Church on Corso was the largest Manly had ever seen, and a huge crowd followed the coffin as it was led through the streets to Manly Cemetery.

The eulogy in both voice and pressure paid homage to the virtues of a man who was characteristic of the ideals of bourgeoisie and humanity, and who had left his mark on Manly like few others.

He survived his wife Charlotte and three sons, Harold, Mervyn and Eric, of whom the two older sons also became doctors and worked in their father’s practice.

Mrs. Thomas died in 1946, aged 89, and was buried with her husband at Manly Cemetery.

In 1959, part of the Manly-Warringah District Park was named the David Thomas Reserve, and in 1960, memorial gates were erected in honor of Dr. Thomas traveled by the reserve bearing his name.


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