A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas

A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas
The Cockabully Hunters --- from an original painting by Noel Guthrie

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Ettrick Bank Hospital. Timaru

Ettrick Bank Hospital.

This old building was at one time located in an area of Timaru known as Ettrick Bank, on the eastern side of High Street leading down to the beach

I am not entirely sure, but history appears to indicate this stately old building was possibly built here by John Ballantyne in 1870’s.  Born in 1825 at Selkirk in Scotland, John was the youngest son of an old border family.  In 1852 he immigrated to Australia, where he obtained a position as a commercial traveller for McArthur and Company and then later, he became a partner in the same firm.  After his first visit to New Zealand in 1858, he is said to have decided to return here someday to live.  Yet it was not until 1872, that he and his family did eventually settle in New Zealand.

John Ballantyne became a familiar figure around South Canterbury, having founded the well-known drapery business of Ballantyne and Company in Timaru. 
As far as I can gather he lived here at 14 High Street with his family until his death on 6th August 1899.  It was only after this; number 14 High Street was to sustain major alterations to its interior.

Two nurses, Miss Annie Christian and Miss Morrison bought Ettrick Bank from the Ballantyne family in late 1899, with the intention of turning it into a private hospital.
It was while working at the Timaru Public Hospital, the pair discussed combining their recourses and establishing a private hospital in the old Ballantyne home.
Annie Christian born in Christchurch spent her high school days in Dunedin.  Shortly after leaving the school she travelled to Australia entering the Prince Albert Hospital in Camperdown, Sydney; where she studied as a probationer before going on to gain a diploma in nursing.

Returning to New Zealand in 1898, Annie took up a position as the head nurse at the Greymouth Hospital, transferring to the Timaru Public Hospital, a short time later.
History records in 1901; the Ettrick Bank Private Hospital was classed as being the most picturesque of all private hospitals, in the whole of the Canterbury Provincial District.
Bush covered most of the property, concealing the hospital from public view and a gravel path winding its way through the native flora led from High Street to the front entrance.

Described as a two story brick and plaster building, it was surrounded on three sides by a veranda.  The ground floor contained a well-appointed dining room for patients; as well there were two general wards, along with a servant’s quarters.  The second floor had a number of well-appointed bedrooms for patients, as well as an impressive operating theatre close by.  It was also noted, medical practitioners from around the district highly recommended the Ettrick Bank Hospital. 

Later in 1901, Miss Morrison withdrew from the partnership, leaving Annie Christian as the sole proprietor.  She employed another two people, described as a certificated nurse and a probationer, to fill the vacancy left by Miss Morrison.

Ettrick Bank Private Hospital ceased to function some years later.  It is said that it reverted back to a private dwelling.  Many years later, the once proud little hospital became a popular boarding house in this part of town. 

To make way for a new wool store in 1955, this majestic old home was demolished, ending yet another colourful chapter in Timaru’s history.

My sketch attempts to recall some of the architectural characteristics, so skilfully displayed by those early designers.

Monday, 14 November 2016



From an acrylic on canvas painting by
Noel Guthrie

“Who’s that funny little man?” I asked my grandmother during one of my visits to her farm.   “What are those things around the bottom of his trousers?” 
“That’s Gilbert,” she replied, “he’s the new cowboy and those things are bicycle clips.”
That was the first time I saw Gilbert.  I was about six or seven years old.

He was an odd little man.  Ginger hair poked out from under his battered felt hat and tufts of ginger nasal hair extended from his nostrils.  His face was all wrinkled and dry, like a weather-beaten leather boot.  A couple of small pieces of tissue stuck to his chin reminded me of my dad when he has cut himself shaving. 
He was a small man and had the bandiest legs I had ever seen.  Later, someone told me he had been a jockey in his younger days.
To me, he looked over the hill.  Yet I suppose to most youngsters, anyone over the age of twenty looked old.   For all that, his blue eyes sparkled when he smiled.  
Between the wrinkles, large freckles adorned his face.  With a serious expression, he informed me those freckles were fly dirt. I was never was too sure if he was pulling my leg.

 “What are bi?. . . bi?   Aw, what did you say those things were Grandma?  Are they to hold his spurs?  What colour is his horse, have you seen it?  Is it like Trigger?" 
I was excited; I had never seen a real cowboy before.
Grandma ruffled my hair with her hand and she laughed. 
“No.  Those are to hold his trousers from getting caught in the bicycle chain when he rides to work.    He doesn’t have a horse and who, for goodness sake, is Trigger?”
I sighed.  These olds, they don’t even know the name of Hopalong Cassidy’s horse.
Beside my bed at home were picture books and comics, all portraying those exciting exploits of Hopalong Cassidy and Tom Mix?  Their pages regularly thumbed night after night, before I went to sleep.
Grandma smiled.
“I have made your favourite.”  She said opening the cupboard and placing a cake tin on the table.
I loved her shortbread squares.  They were better than those my mum makes.  She always made a little shortbread man, especially for me.   
 “Where’s Tom?”  I asked, biting off the little man's leg and licking crumbs off my lips.  Taking a drink of raspberry grandma gave me. “I’m going to tell him about the new cowboy.  He’ll know who Trigger is, you just don’t understand Grandma.” 
I turned to run through the orchard on my way to the garden.
“Tom is not here,” Grandma said to me as I dashed out the door and jumped up to swing on the low branch of an old peach tree.
“No matter Gran,” I shouted over my shoulder.  “I’ll wait; I’ll go and chase sparrows away from his strawberries."
Taking large strides, I started off down the dirt path, my chest puffed out.  I had an important assignment to fulfil before Tom returned.
“Wait!”  Grandma raised her voice so I would hear her.  “Tom has gone; he’s not coming back!”
In midstride I stopped.  Mouthing silently, Tom is not coming back?   A feeling of disbelief swept over me.  My head cocked at an angle, I stood there hands hips, not fully accepting what grandma was saying. 
“Tom’s not here?  But he is always here when I come to visit.
Don't be silly Gran; Tom will be back.  You are just tricking me, aren't you?”   
Grandma knew I usually rushed down to the garden or waited out by the cow bale to see Tom.  With a sad look in her eyes, she said. “He wanted to go and work on another farm.”
“But he can’t have, he told me we were going bird nesting next time I came."  Tears began trickling down my cheeks.
“Perhaps Gilbert will take you bird nesting,” Grandma said in a soothing tone.
“Aw. What would he know about birds nesting, he's a cowboy?   Cowboy’s don't climb trees."
“Tom was a cowboy.” 
"No, he wasn't," I blurted, wiping at the tears with the back of my hand.  
"He was a.  . .  He was.  . .  Tom’s always here!  He’s not a cowboy Grandma, he’s too old.”  I said, sniffing and wiping at the constant flow of tears with my shirt sleeve.
Turning abruptly, tears blurring my vision, I ran through the cow paddock to the cow bail, where I helped Tom milk Betsy, the cow. 
Betsy was there, in the middle of the paddock, her eyes closed, chewing her cud and swishing her tail quite unconcerned.  
Tom’s milking stool lay on its side against the fence.  I picked it up and sat, resting my arms on the bottom rail of the bail to watch Grandma's hen’s scratch in the dirt. 
I wished Tom were here.  There are so many things I needed to tell him, like the little rabbit he caught for me.  I called it Flossy and wanted to tell him that my dad had made a hutch and I fed Flossy every day.

A shadow drifted into my line of sight.  I felt a soft touch on my shoulder.  Gilbert smiled when I looked up.
"Now, what's all this about, young fella," he said to me in a comforting voice.
"Aw, nothing,” I sobbed. 
“Oh, I thought you must have hurt yourself?”
“No, I haven’t,” I snapped, brushing away a fresh surge of tears. “My friend has gone away, who will milk Betsy?"
Rubbing his jaw, Gilbert squatted down, to sit on his heels, I could hear his knee’s cracking. 
“Mmmm, that’s a tough one.” Lifting his hat he scratched his head.  "What say we ask Betsy, see if she will let me milk her?"
“Don’t be silly,” I said giggling through my tears. “Cows can’t talk. I was looking at the hens having a dust bath.
Anyway, you're a cowboy and cowboys don't milk cows.”  I sniffed. “Tom was going to take me bird nesting.”
Digging into his pocket, Gilbert pulled out a little round tin of tobacco and began to roll a cigarette. 
"I'll take you bird nesting." He said, licking the gummed edge of his tissue paper. 
Cupping his hands around the match flame, he drew smoke into his lungs.
“Aw, it doesn’t matter.”  I watched fascinated as he blew out a stream of smoke, making smoke rings in the air.  “I’ll just help you milk Betsy and then I better go home.”
“Just as you like, little fella.”  Gilbert began to stand up.  He groaned as his old joints cracked from squatting down.  “By the way, did Tom tell you how to climb a tree and get down again, carrying the eggs in your mouth so they would not break?” 
"No," I said.
“Did he show you how to make a hole and blow the eggs, before fitting them on a string, without breaking the shell?"
I looked at Gilbert.  My mouth fell open in horror. 
"No.  .  . No.  You can't do that.  What about mother bird?  She will not have any baby birds, and I won't see them fly away up into the sky when they grow big."
"Oh. ... Sorry." replied Gilbert.  "I never thought about that.  Well then, what if we mark the nest with a piece of string and then you can keep a watch, to see all the babies grow up and fly away."
“Can we?” I jumped up off the stool with excitement.    “I’ll keep watch and count how many baby birds grow up and fly away.  I’m going to tell Grandma that you are going to take me bird nesting. 
Now, you just hold on to Betsy, until I come back to help.”
Gilbert stood to attention.  He gave me a salute. “Yes. . . Sir.” He laughed.
Giggling at him, I strode through the long grass towards the house.  Reaching the orchard, I shouted over his shoulder.  “You are my best friend. I love you, Gilbert!”