Historical information

This lantern slide shows the Ovens District Hospital (also called the Ovens Goldfields Hospital) in Beechworth in approximately 1900. The Hospital was built as part of a community push to develop the infrastructure needed for a permanent town in the 1850s. At the time there was no hospital located between Melbourne and the NSW town of Goulburn and it was recognised that the nature of mining and agricultural work predisposed people to serious injury. The community voted in 1853 to raise funds for a hospital and a voluntary committee elected from people who contributed £2 or more annually determined the organisation's management policies, which aimed to provide care for poor people at rates levied according to the person's means. Ongoing operations of the hospital were primarily supported by Government grants, however.

The foundation stone was laid at a site in Church Street at a ceremony held 1st September 1856 which was attended by 2000 people using a locally crafted trowel with a tin ore handle and pure gold blade. The hospital, which was designed by J.H. Dobbyn, cost £2347. The hospital had two wards, a dispensary, apartments for a resident surgeon and the matron, an operating theatre and a board room. Further medical facilities including services to meet the cultural and health needs of the local Chinese community were later added, in addition to a Palladian-style cut-granite face built in 1862-63. It functioned as the region's primary hospital until surpassed by the Wangaratta Hospital in 1910. In the 1940s much of the building materials were salvaged and repurposed, with the exception of the facade which was restored in 1963 by the Beechworth Lions Club and still stands today. The facade featured on the covers of local history volume 'Beechworth: a Titan's Field' by Carole Woods and heritage-focused travel guide the 'Readers Digest Book of Historic Australian Towns'.

Lantern slides, sometimes called 'magic lantern' slides, are glass plates on which an image has been secured for the purpose of projection. Glass slides were etched or hand-painted for this purpose from the Eighteenth Century but the process became more popular and accessible to the public with the development of photographic-emulsion slides used with a 'Magic Lantern' device in the mid-Nineteenth Century. Photographic lantern slides comprise a double-negative emulsion layer (forming a positive image) between thin glass plates that are bound together. A number of processes existed to form and bind the emulsion layer to the base plate, including the albumen, wet plate collodion, gelatine dry plate and woodburytype techniques. Lantern slides and magic lantern technologies are seen as foundational precursors to the development of modern photography and film-making techniques.


This glass slide is significant because it provides insight into Beechworth's built environment and infrastructure in the early Twentieth Century, around the time of Australia's Federation. It is also an example of an early photographic and film-making technology in use in regional Victoria in the time period.

Physical description

Thin translucent sheet of glass with a round-edged square image printed on the front and framed in a black backing. It is held together by metal strips to secure the edges of the slide.

Inscriptions & markings

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