Nurse Farrell ran Buxton, a private maternity hospital at 22 Wigram Rd from 1921, when it stopped functioning as a private residence, until she retired after her 60th birthday. A large number of Glebe babies were born at what was referred to as ‘Nurse Farrell’s private hospital’. There were at least two other places in the State in the 1930s to 1950s called after a head nurse Farrell: Edith Marion Adela Farrell ran Omagh in a modest house in Corrimal, and Mrs M Farrell ran a maternity hospital turned women’s aged care facility in central Dubbo.

Glebe’s Nurse Farrell was born Linda Louisa Hayton in Tasmania on 9 July 1877 at Woodside in Forcett, to farmer George William Hayton and Elizabeth Emery née Hornsey who married at Sorell in 1869, their age difference 20 years. The Haytons were a large extended family. Her uncle James Hayton had nine children, and Linda had six siblings: Minnie Teresa (Dorothea/Dolly, 1871-1900), William George (1874-1932), Edgar Herbert (born 1879), Norman Vivian (1881-1907), Edward (born 1884) and Trixie Gladys (born 1886). By the time Trixie was born the family had moved to Sandy Bay where Linda was probably educated at Old Beach State School.

In 1889 eleven-year-old Linda spent a cold April night with two friends lost on Mt Wellington after being separated from their picnic party. The next month her father died and was buried in the Queenborough cemetery. Linda was still in Hobart in 1899 but by 1903 had moved to Sydney where she married ironmonger Robert Alfred Farrell at Redfern. Their son, George Emmett Farrell, was born on 3 July 1905. In 1906, when his family home was 501 Bourke St Surry Hills, 42-year-old Robert took a job as supercargo on the Hawke trading between Port Stephens and Sydney. He died from complications following the amputation of his leg which had been caught and crushed in the steamer’s mooring ropes.

In 1912 Linda sat exams for the Australasian Trained Nurses’ Association and qualified as an obstetric nurse. By 1919 Nurse Farrell’s private hospital was at 36 Toxteth Rd and by 1921 she had set up at 22 Wigram Rd in partnership with nurse Florence Lillian Bright. Linda Farrell’s mother-in-law Jane Farrell had died in December 1912 and was buried at Rookwood. Her own mother, Elizabeth Emery Hayton, died at Victoria Ave Chatswood on 8 July 1923. Her son George, who married Hilda Seaton in Sydney in 1927, enlisted in the army in November 1939 but was discharged the following January.

Linda Farrell (who consistently called herself ‘Nurse Farrell’ with her second name as ‘Louise’ in electoral rolls) was gone from Wigram Rd by 1940, and by 1943 was living at 661 Military Rd Mosman. She died in hospital on 6 August 1957 and was privately cremated. She left a will. The brief death notice gave no details but noted ‘Hobart papers please copy’ indicating that family members were still there. George Emmett Farrell died in 1965, his widow in 1983.

In the 1940s Buxton changed function from a maternity hospital to a convalescent home for older women. In 1946 it advertised its trained staff working day and night giving special attention to Heart and Convalescent Cases. The same year Glebe’s Dr Potts and Buxton nurses Irene Crocker and Mavis Smith were witnesses in a poisoning case involving a cook employed there. By the 1950s the institution was known as the Buxton Convalescent Home. Today Rainbow Lodge occupies the site.

The house Buxton was completed by Christmas 1895 for Wesleyan clergyman Richard Sellors, builder of the Boyce St house Winster, named for his English birthplace. Buxton was probably named for another Derbyshire town. It was briefly the address for the Secretary of the Methodist Church Sustentation and Home Missions, but was advertised for rent in March 1896: with all modern conveniences, seven rooms plus bathroom, pantry, kitchen, laundry, good outhouses and a large yard. It was rented in 1899 to Hubert J Lane; and again in 1903 to Rev Walter W Martell. Schools inspector Henry Parkinson was there ca 1905-11 with his wife Agnes, son Henry Hellam, a student, and daughter Mary, a music teacher. From 1912 to 1920 it was occupied by merchant Alfred Edwin Ellis JP, his wife Elizabeth, typist Elsie May, secretary Florence Adelaide, and timber merchant Reginald Manning Ellis.

Sources: NSW births, deaths, marriages registry; NSW cemetery records; NSW electoral rolls; Sands Directories; Sydney telephone directories; Tasmanian births, deaths, marriages registry; Trove website; Truth 8.12.1946.