SPCA's new home among the ghosts

03:10, Apr 21 2013
SPCA Fever Hospital open day
Wellington SPCA chief executive Iain Torrance stands at a window in the old Fever Hospital.
SPCA fever hospital open day
Alice and Peter Watts brought their dog Pepper to check out the SPCA's future home.
SPCA fever hospital open day
A visitor to the SCPA's open day at the Fever Hospital.
SPCA fever hospital open day
A group is shown around the old hospital.

Sister Slipper hasn't made an appearance yet, but the ghosts of Wellington's Fever Hospital have been getting friendly with Wellington SPCA staff.

Volunteers and SPCA staff were kept busy this morning, showing curious visitors through their new home at the Fever Hospital in Mt Victoria ahead of planned renovation work.

The heritage building was handed over to the charity by Wellington City Council to use as a new home for its animal hospital and education centre.

Wellington SPCA chief executive Iain Torrance said the organisation was excited to get stuck in to the upgrade work now that Wellington City Council's earthquake strengthening was nearing completion.

"We'll be starting our work in the middle of May, subject to building consents. It will become a full construction site then, so this open day is a great chance to see it before all the big changes."

Large groups had prebooked for the open day, and Mr Torrance anticipated about 300 people would check out the historic building.

"Everyone has wanted to come down and see this place. They have been waiting for the opportunity to get access and see inside what is a unique piece of Wellington history."

Part of that history included rumours of the ghost of former nurse Sister Slipper who roamed the halls, and former patients of the hospital.

While Sister Slipper was yet to make an appearance, staff this week had an encounter with a "perfectly friendly" male ghoul, Mr Torrance said.

"It's a 100-year-old building so there are plenty of spirits moving through the place. I've been here by myself and it's been fine, but lots who come through know about Sister Slipper. We even had a woman who used to know her come through. She used to attach hot water bottles to her feet and shuffle around through the halls."

The team had brought through animals of every species to "sound out" the building and make sure they didn't freak out, he said.

"I think they're all pretty friendly figures though."

Peter Watts, who was visiting the hospital with his dog Pepper, said it was a building he had always been keen to see inside.

"We used to walk near here quite regularly. It's something we would be near so often, and now that the SPCA will be in here it's going to be brilliant."

Once the upgrade work was completed, the animal centre would be relocated from its Newtown site by Christmas this year.

Contact Kerry McBride
Porirua reporter
Email: kerry.mcbride@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @kerry_mcbride


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