Hospital demolished to make way for fast food

The former Dee St Hospital in Invercargill
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The former Dee St Hospital in Invercargill

In 1876, a new wing was added to the older hospital buildings in Dee St, Invercargill.

The Dee St Hospital, also known as the Queen Victoria Hospital, continued only in a maternity role after 1951 following the opening of the new Kew Hospital.

When it closed on March 1, 1979, an obstetric unit had been built at Kew and the old building was well past its prime.

It was demolished to make way for McDonalds although the fence and the older adjoining hospital building still remain.

Southlanders used to look on the old building with a certain fondness – most of them were born there after all.

As Gerry Forde says, "I was born at McDonalds and went to school at Burger King."

Shipwrecks

One of Southland's more unusual shipwrecks was that of the barque Emilie on March 27, 1890.

The Emilie left Bluff for Australia with a cargo of timber.

In rough weather, the vessel began shipping water near Solander Island, capsized and lost her masts.

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The half-submerged wreck drifted for several days before grounding at Doughboy Bay on the west coast of Stewart Island.

The four survivors spent another week with little food or shelter until rescued by a party of muttonbirders who tended them until they could be picked up.

The survivors maintained that the ship had been unseaworthy but an inquiry found that the cargo had been badly stowed.

George Green, one of those rescued, described the Emilie as, "quite unfit to proceed to sea. She is one of the worst old traps that ever filled with salt water, and was not fit to be afloat. Any seaworthy boat would have stood the weather all right. I have been in much worse. All the canvas was taken off her before she went on her beam ends. Sails, ropes and rigging were rotten; in fact, there was nothing but red paint holding her together."

There is a memorial in the Eastern Cemetery to the nine casualties of the wreck.

Game fishing

In 1960, there was a promise for a big-game fishing industry in Southland.

Tuna were evidently becoming plentiful.

"One veteran said he had seen acres of them around Centre Island but few have been landed. They are fighters and have ripped off a good deal of tackle."

The southward spread of tuna had enabled South Australia to develop a booming tuna industry, supplying canned tuna for the United States market.

"There seems to be great scope for sportsmen who can strike the right lure with the right tackle. Fuel has been added to the flame of cautious excitement by the hooking a few days ago of a swordfish. It made off with a Riverton man's groper line."

The species referred to here are probably the Southern Bluefin tuna and the Broadbill swordfish, the two large game fish which get this far south.

Bluefin tuna have been showing up in good numbers in the summer off the southwest coast of the South Island and because of the proximity of deep water, they can be caught relatively close to shore.

Although not large compared to other Bluefin tuna, Southland examples are often over 60kg and a 2.6m specimen washed ashore on Oreti Beach in 2010.

 - The Southland Times

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