Nursing Education and Ayers House

From the 1950s to the 1970s Royal Adelaide Hospital student nurses attended Preliminary Training School (PTS) in Ayers House. Many students also lived in Ayers House and nearby buildings known as the annexes. Below are some memories from nurses that experienced this period of nursing training.

Trainee Nurses posed at the front of Ayers House, 1952. 4.1B.214

Sister Kennedy was our tutor and she was fresh from England and she was very enthusiastic and very good. That was a lot of fun, it was like being back in school again. It was back in desks and again living in dormitories situation, which I had never done before, all in together. Of course Ayers House was absolutely glorious, a bit run down at that stage, but we didn’t know anything different. Beautiful big rooms, a lot of fun. 

Joanna Cother. Commenced training May 1951
Irene Kennedy with student nurses, 1951. 4.1B.109

I always remember vividly we were in Ayers House—what’s now Ayers House—for our training, and we lived in the rooms upstairs. And what’s now the Ballroom, I think they call it, or one of the major rooms that they use as a restaurant now was in fact our classroom, I remember being very impressed with that building at the time. We subsequently… I can’t remember what it was called—the annexe which was next to Ayers House, which certainly we lived in for quite a long period of time. … That made a big impression on me, I guess, because it was my first time away from home really.

Heather Schubert (nee Duffield). Commenced training 1961
The Annexes, 1947-1950. AR#12313

We slept in irons beds with horse-hair mattresses that I think had had one hundred and one other people sleeping on them. They all had hollows, and the pillows had no fluff in them, and it was dreadful!

Judith Porter. Commenced training February 1954

Dorothy Clarke who lived in Austral House used to do a round every so often at night and say ‘girls are you in bed yet’ or ‘lights out’.

Janis Cottle, on the supervision while living in the annexes. Commenced training October 1965

Composed by Jonathan Hull, CALHN Health Museum