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Bulawayo's earliest hospital

Bulawayo's earliest hospital

Bulawayo Memorial Hospital
Bulawayo Memorial Hospital


BY : ROB BURRETT - Associate Researcher (Natural History Museum) and Independent Heritage Consultant


Bulawayo Memorial Hospital, located between 10th and 11th Avenues in the city centre, is now part of a muddle of various structures used by Home Affairs. Today it fronts Herbert Chitepo Street and is currently occupied by the Immigration Department and previously the Tax Office.

The foundation stone to the hospital was laid in October 1894 and the first wing was completed by mid-1895. It cost £6,500 which was raised through public subscription. Two years later the public coughed up another £5,000 to fund various extensions which more than doubled the hospital’s initial size. This photograph dates to about 1902.

Initially the hospital was staffed by Sisters from the nearby Dominican Convent before professional nurses were employed. It consisted of several private and public wards with four reserved for non-white patients. Out in front of the hospital was a large garden of shady trees and vegetable beds. This space is now the TM/Pick n Pay Supermarket. Herbert Chitepo Street was only cut through the block at a much later date.

In 1925 the government took over the running of the hospital, at which time the original buildings were modified to the present simple double-storied entrance without its cupola. Gone too were the original shady verandas of the wings and we are left with a rather austere façade.

In 1943 Bulawayo General Hospital in Kumalo suburb was opened for white patients, while the Memorial Hospital continued to cater for non-white patients until early 1956 with the opening of Mpilo Hospital. These buildings were then converted to government offices.