Sister IDA BATHGATE

(1892 -1988)

Hundreds of East Fremantle babies were born at Nurse Bathgate’s Maternity Hospital, which operated from 1925 to 1986, at 20- 22 Staton Rd, East Fremantle.

Ida Margaret King was born in 1892- her father was George Ogilvy King and her mother Emily Sarah (nee Andrews)  in Guildford, Western Australia). She attended Hamilton Hill school before she left at 14 to work as a housemaid.

Ida had a child (Kenneth b 1911) before she married her first husband Bernard Mitchell, a shearing contractor, in 1911. Against the expectation of the time- that she would "send the child away"- Ida would not abandon Kenneth and eventually she divorced Bernard (reference)

Ida's early experiences were perhaps central to the amazing work she did in later life; Ida was determined to help other mothers, to be independent and have her own income. In 1918 she trained as one of the first of the midwifery students at King Edward Hospital (aged 26) and worked at Nurse Weavers private maternity hospital, at Kirkham Hill Terrace, Maylands.

Her second husband Archibald George Donald Bathgate (1888-1941, son of David Bathgate) worked as a ‘moulder/caster’. At age 27 he enlisted in 1914, serving with the 11th Australian Infantry Battalion, and embarked for Europe on the HMAS A20 Hororata on 26 April 1915 as a Private. He was slightly wounded during the Battle of Gallipoli in November 1915, sent to Malta (reference) to recover and returned in 1917 as a Sergeant. (reference)

On his return in 1918, Ida and Archibald married in Fremantle. They had a large family: Their children were; Ellen (b. 1919, dec), Archibald ‘Donald’ Charles (b. 1920, dec), Edith ‘Jean’ (b. 1923), Elsie Joan (b. 1926), Gwendoline (b. 1928) , June Margaret (b. 1930 married William Hugh Godecke 1953); Grandchildren: Lynette Marie (b. 1956), Helen Margaret Godecke (b. 1955) and Amanda (b. 1964), and Douglas George (b. )

With the help of Archibald- Ida first practiced midwifery in 1919 from a room in her War Service Home at 46 Duke Street, East Fremantle (then no 12 after 1939- before being demolished). Archie worked as a warder at Fremantle Prison.

In 1920 Ida had her son Donald at her home (no 22) in Victoria Road (reference)- which changed to Staton Road in 1926.

In 1925 she started San Hedrin Maternity Hospital at 20 Staton Road, East Fremantle and the family lived on the premises at no 22. She owned and ran this hospital for over 30 years as well as rearing a large family. (San Hedrin Hospital records can be found in the State Records Library WA).

At her maternity hospital she built a kitchen at the back, employed a cook and a laundress and her children also helped in the hospital. Ida’s daughters Elsie and Ellen also trained as nurses and worked there.  Ida worked closely with Dr Cook, who was called if women had difficult births.

‘’1929: WANTED, a trustworthy probationer. Sister Bathgate, 22 Staton-rd, East Fremantle” (reference)

‘’1929: Charge of Stealing.— Frances Webb (18½), pleaded guilty to a charge of having stolen a toilet set and a bonnet, the property of Ida M. Bathgate, on September 4. She was fined £2, and bound over to be of good behaviour for six months.’’ (reference)

Archibald was a dedicated member of the Scottish chapters of the Freemasons and they attended his funeral, when he died in August 1941 at only 53 years old. (reference). He was buried in Fremantle Cemetery.

‘On November 29, 1944, by special license, Archibald Donald Charles (Sgt-Pilot, RAAF), eldest son of Mrs and the late Mr A. G. Bathgate, 22 Staton-road, East Fremantle married Nancy Emily (Cpl, WAAAF), second daughter of Mr and Mrs A. G. Woods, 52 Hobbs-ave, Nedlands.’ (reference)

In June 1947 the proprietorship of the hospital changed from Sister Bathgate to Sister M  French. reference)

‘’1952: Nurse Steals 25 Tablets- Edna May McDougall, nurse, was charged with having stolen drugs, the property of Ida Margaret Bathgate.’’ (reference)

Ida resided at Braemar Lodge retirement home at 51 Point Walter Road Bicton, before she died in Fremantle Hospital, aged 95, in 1988. She was buried in Fremantle Cemetery with her husband. (reference). Fremantle History Centre holds an oral history recording- Interview with Margaret Ida Bathgate interviewed by Margaret Howroyd in 1988.

Sister Bathgate with baby c. 1920s