||The Springsure Hospital was constructed in c1868, as a response to the needs of the local community.
In 1844 Leichhardt traversed an area to the east of what is now Springsure, naming the Expedition Range, Albinia Downs and Comet Creek as he went. Some two years later Major Mitchell entered the area and named further features in the classical style (such as Salvator Rosa) while the following year Leichhardt attempted to explore the area again but was forced back by floodwaters.
While the Leichhardt Pastoral District was officially opened up to settlement on 10 January 1854, William Landsborough subsequently in 1858 explored the Comet River through to the area that is now Springsure.
In 1863 surveyor Charles Gregory laid out the plan for Springsure, the town reserve taking in an area of 50 square miles centred on the springs of Springsure Creek. As pastoral enterprises proved successful, more and more settlers streamed into the area and by the time the 1864 census was taken the Springsure Police District recorded a total of 720 persons, 619 of them male, with only 34 of the 720 people actually residing in the township of Springsure. By the late 1860s it became apparent that a hospital was needed in the district.
The Springsure Hospital was erected c1868 as a response to needs of the local community who set up a committee of volunteers to manage the project. The hospital was to be run by governors, each governor to subscribe a minimum of one pound per year towards the running of the hospital. From those subscribers, a committee responsible for the affairs of the hospital was to be elected, the committee to be comprised of a president, a secretary and other officers. On 7 October 1868, William Henry Hinton, Louis Meyer and George Pultney Malcolm Murray were appointed trustees. Patients able to pay for their treatment would be required to do so whereas those unable to afford treatment would receive the medical care required regardless.
In 1868, the hospital was opened. Its feature characteristics were those of the pavilion plan, a plan first designed and implemented in France in the mid 19th century. The Lariboisiere Hospital had opened in Paris in 1854. Following promotion of the pavilion plan by Florence Nightingale who recognised its advantages for the recovery of soldiers suffering from the effects of the Crimean War, almost all hospitals constructed in Queensland in the 1860-1880 period were built to incorporate the features of the pavilion plan.
The principal design characteristics of the pavilion plan were to provide good ventilation and sanitation for the benefit and recovery of patients. The Springsure Hospital was no exception and today is the oldest surviving hospital constructed on the pavilion plan in Queensland and is the first hospital constructed in inland Queensland.
The hospital was erected as a small cottage type hospital that incorporated the pavilion plan ward with other facilities including an office, surgery, dispensary and a store within the one main building. At its inception the hospital comprised a brick building with a shingle roof with its main section housing a ward that accommodated six beds. To promote cross ventilation, French doors were located along the northern and southern sides of the main ward, with a verandah encircling three sides of the ward. Each of the beds was positioned between each set of French doors to ensure that the patients were afforded adequate ventilation.
Initially a husband and wife team, Thomas and Ellen Cahill were appointed as wardsman and matron and continued in these positions until the mid 1870s.
In 1871 the census for the Springsure Police District recorded 1098 people, 370 of whom were residing in the township of Springsure. In that year the doctor treated a total of 48 cases and the government 'helped out' with a contribution of £300. Accordingly in the 1870s the hospital was expanded to meet the growing needs of the community with an extra ward added in 1879 to bring the number of beds to seventeen. The central Board of Health requested that the Hospital Board appoint a health officer at its own expense but the Board refused stating that a health officer was unnecessary as Springsure was a healthy and well-drained district.
When banks crashed in the 1890s the Hospital Board had its money locked up and as a result was forced to arrange overdraft. Despite this by 1897 the Hospital Board was in a position to employ its first trained nurse, Miss Alice Kemp and in 1900 as a response to a Central government requirement that Boards take positive action Dr Neilson was appointed health officer at a cost of £25. Despite the hospital having been in operation since the late 1860s it was not until 1902 that the deeds to the land were received.
The 1884 Health Act made local governments responsible for the treatment of infectious disease, mainly because of the "miasma" theory of disease transmission, which blamed infectious diseases on noxious vapours arising from poor sanitation and bad drainage - both local government responsibilities. This also gave Councils responsibility for inoculations such as the program organised by the Bauhinia Shire Council in response to the 1919 flu epidemic. Councils were also expected to provide hospital wards for the treatment of infectious diseases. In 1920 the Bauhinia Council provided £200 to the hospital to make improvements to the isolation ward.
Expansion continued apace with the erection of separate staff quarters in 1914. Improvements to the district's health services continued throughout the 1920s with establishment of an ambulance brigade and with Miss Hammond opening Westray as maternity home in 1921. As part of a statewide response by the government to the Maternity Act 1922 and as existing facilities were becoming less than adequate, in 1924 the State Government constructed a maternity ward at the Springsure Hospital. In 1925 a new complex housing wards and a kitchen was constructed adjacent to the 1868 brick building. Although the State Government was providing some health facilities for the Springsure community, in 1923 local authorities were expected to meet some of the shortfall between income and expenditure for their local hospitals through precepts, such as the £100 provided in 1924 by the Bauhinia Shire Council. The Council continued to take responsibility for inoculation campaigns, providing diphtheria inoculations for the community free of charge in 1931. . Local government responsibility for hospital finances only ceased after the Hospitals Act of 1945.
When the depression affected the financial status of the hospital to the point where it was likely to close a public meeting was called to make arrangements for a further input of voluntary contributions. Strong hostility towards the possibility that the hospital could come under the control of the state in the late 1930s instigated the Bauhinia Council to pledge a £400 per annum to ensure that the hospital continued to be maintained under the voluntary system
When a new hospital was constructed in 1938 the former hospital building was used for recreation and as a dance hall for the nurses. During the 1970s new staff quarters were erected and in the 1980s when the original brick building was identified as being surplus to the needs of the Hospital Board the site was subdivided. A reserve was created comprising the 1868 building and the adjacent 19th century timber annex. The Bauhinia Shire Council was appointed trustee. Restoration work was undertaken in 1988 and on 19 August 1989, the Honourable Mike Ahern MLA, Premier and Treasurer of Queensland opened the Springsure Hospital Museum. The Museum is furnished to resemble an early rural hospital; it has a collection of medical equipment, photographs and other records.
In 2004-2005 the Springsure Hospital Museum is closed to the general public for safety reasons.