16 November 2022

State recognition the order of the day as historical figures are awarded Blue Plaques

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Nuns caring for babies

Sisters of the Little Company of Mary working in the maternity ward. Photo: Calvary Riverina Hospital archive.

Wagga’s Little Company of Mary Sisters have been recognised as part of the NSW Blue Plaques program.

Sir John Sulman and Bishop Sydney Linton from Hay also received a Blue Plaque.

The scheme recognises the extraordinary events and people who shaped NSW’s history.

It aims to capture public interest in, and fascination with, people, events and places that are important to the stories of NSW, helping people learn about their local region and history.

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The Little Company of Mary Sisters founded Wagga’s Calvary Hospital in 1926.

The Catholic sisters were also known as the ”Blue Sisters” because of the blue veils they wore.

They played a significant role for the people of the Riverina by providing compassionate healthcare.

Architect Sir John Sulman was commissioned to design and build a home for the Riverina’s first Anglican Bishop, Sydney Linton.

Old building

Bishop’s Lodge under construction c. 1889–90. Photo: Bishop’s Lodge Historic House Collection.

Together they designed the simple and charming Bishop’s Lodge in Hay, which was tailored to the natural environment.

The building took more than two years to complete and still stands as a defining architectural collaboration. The structure is cool inside even in the peak of summer due to sawdust packed between two sheets of iron, providing insulation.

The flood-proof building was put to the test in 1891 when the river level rose more than 7.5 metres. The building remained a metre above the water.

The architect garnered a reputation as a progressive town planner whose strong will would help shape how the colony’s cities were built. He was known for designing many hospital colleges and other landmarks.

Bishop Linton had a passion for spreading God’s word despite the small population of the towns.

Minister for Heritage James Griffin said the initiative had been inspired by London’s famous Blue Plaques program.

“A key point of difference is that in NSW, we’re not just recognising the history of our biggest city, Sydney,” Mr Griffin said.

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He said the plaques recently installed in Wagga and Hay celebrated individuals who had played important roles in the development of the state’s regional towns.

Thirty-five Blue Plaques have been announced since the program began in June 2021, including those of pioneering female aviator Nancy Bird Walton; Dr Charles Perkins, who dedicated his life to civil rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku, who helped popularise surfing in NSW.

To learn more about the plaque recipients and to see where the tributes are installed, visit Blue Plaques.

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