William Frederick Hammer

William Frederick Hammer was a long serving Dispenser (forerunner to the Pharmacist), at the (Royal) Adelaide Hospital.

He was born 19th June 1873 in Mount Gambier. He learnt his trade with an apprenticeship with Mr H Glover, completing his training at the Adelaide University. He then worked for Mr GF Ward a chemist based at Semaphore. He left this role for a position with F.H. Faulding & Co, a manufacturing and wholesaling chemist.

In 1897, Hammer was appointed junior assistant dispenser at the Adelaide Hospital and was appointed Head Dispenser in June 1899. During his service he led demonstrations for medical students on practical pharmacy.

Adelaide Hospital Staff, 1901. Hammer is in the back row, first on the left.

In a newspaper interview from 1926 Hammer described that challenges that the First World War had on his profession:

“The war period was a difficult one for chemists, for many drugs were raised to a prohibitive price and others were unprocurable. The ingredients of most of the prescriptions made up here came from Britain, but the raw material comes from all parts of the world. Some of the drugs here would not be found anywhere else in Adelaide.”

William Fredrick Hammer in News, 26 January 1926, pg 10.

Although well respected for his work and knowledge in his field, he was remembered as a misanthrope by contemporaries. This included disparaging attitudes to medical students as well as women in the dispensing and medical fields. In a newspaper interview from 1926 he stated:

“Personally, I have an instinctive shrinking from sickness… and I have no time for those persons who thrust themselves on the sick with a boisterous brightness calculated to infuriate the mildest invalid. As for the dolorous visitors who come to the bedside of the sufferers and revel in telling tales of similar calamities which happened to their friends, generally with fatal results, they are a positive affliction. Unless the visitors are sincerely sympathetic their attentions are mere hypocrisy”.

William Fredrick Hammer in News, 26 January 1926, pg 10.

Hammer worked for around 40 years in the hospital, leaving in 1937. He was married to Ada Jane Mortimer and had three children. He died 30th August 1953.