Matron Leggate

(1899 - 1981)

Caroline Torrance Prentice Leggate (1899-1981) was born in Lanarkshire Scotland. She came to Australia at the age of 12 with her parents John (d. 1949), a joiner and mother Jeanie Prentice Leggate, and sisters Grace and Jean (b 1909) and brother Jo (disappeared). They lived at No 6 Forrest Street, Palmyra from 1930-1949.

‘Carrie’ began training as a nurse at 20, doing her nursing training at Perth Hospital and by 1925 was nursing at Fremantle Public Hospital. After completing her midwifery certificate at the Paddington Hospital for women in Sydney she returned to WA, where from 1930 until 1935, Caroline worked as the first Matron of Dowerin Hospital. In 1930 Dowerin townspeople had raised the money to fund their own hospital as no money was available from the State Government. An account of a fundraising ball at which Matron Leggate attended is recorded here: (reference)

Caroline enjoyed her holidays and went on several long cruises: in 1935 Caroline accompanied her sister Jean (a saleswoman) for a holiday to Penang on the MV Gorgon (reference) and in 1960 went on a holiday cruise trip for two months.

Just before the war Caroline accepted a post as a midwife at Woodside Private Hospital, 18 Dalgety Street and became a partner of Miss Irene Kiernan who then ran the private hospital. Leaving the hospital Caroline took over duties at the Bundi Kudja Maternity Hospital in Hampton Rd, Fremantle for three years.

‘LEWIS-DRIVER (nee Baudains): On May 4, at Bundi Kudja, to Kath and Bob- a son (Chris). Both well. Thanking Dr. Owen, Matron Leggett and staff of Bundi Kudja.’ (reference)

In 1953 the Government purchased both Bundi Kudja- converting it to Woodside Hospital, and Miss Leggate returned as the first Matron of Woodside Maternity Hospital. (reference)

In 1968 when she retired more than 11,000 patients had been admitted to Woodside. Miss Leggate said “her work had been her life and the hospital had been her home”.

From 1968 until 1980 Matron Leggate lived at 95a Murray Road, Bicton, where she enjoyed gardening and her work with the Soroptomist Club of Fremantle.

Çarrie died in Melville on the 3 January 1981, aged 81. She has a headstone in Fremantle cemetery. Many babies were named after her and her legacy is carried on by her niece Stephanie Hayman, also a nurse.

Carries sister Grace Leggate married AH Bracks who was well known as Chairman of the Melville Road Board- after whom the AH Bracks Library and Community Centre is named.

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