Looking Back to When People Came to See the Good Doctor at Clayfield House

Did you know that the heritage-listed Clayfield House along London Rd first belonged to Dr. Arthur CF Halford, an esteemed obstetrician who wanted a house with a combined surgery facility to serve his patients? 

In the early 1900s, it was common for doctors to manage a private hospital or clinic with surgery services from their homes, particularly for maternity cases. In keeping with the times, Dr Halford enlisted the help of Robin Dods, a prominent Brisbane architect, to design the residence/surgery building

Mr Dods was quite familiar with Dr Halford’s requirements. His stepfather and brother were also doctors who managed a residence/surgery facility from their homes. The architect designed a similar concept for his brother’s place on Wickham Terrace.

Who was Dr Arthur CF Halford?

From 1906 to 1920, Dr Arthur Charles Frederick Halford conducted his medical practice from Turrawan, the other name he had for Clayfield House. He also had a clinic at 157 Wickham Terrace. 

Dr Halford, the son of a professor, was born in Melbourne in 1869. Thirty years later, he was arranged to be married to Miss Nora Fitzgerald, whose family came from Cork, Ireland. The couple then settled in Rockhampton, Queensland after their wedding in 1899.

Photo Credit: National Library of Australia

By 1905, Dr Halford had bought an acre of land at the corner of Sandgate and London Rd to establish Clayfield House/Turrawan. The building’s original entrance faced Sandgate Rd for the residence whilst the surgery area was accessed via London Rd. Turrawan also had a tennis court at the back of the house.

In 1908, he was named the Honorary Assistant Physician at the Brisbane Hospital, where he pioneered a new method of treating burns and scalds by puncturing the blisters and cutting much of the affected skin. His method was adopted until the 1960s. 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

What makes Clayfield House unique?

Clayfield House was built in a burgeoning prestigious residential area in North Brisbane. The design was efficiently thought out to separate the house from the surgery, with separate entrances and distinct room layouts. It became a shining example of the city’s medical practice development. 

The size and quality of the doctor’s residence and surgery were uncommon during this period, especially since it has survived over decades. Some alternations were made to the house yet a lot of its original layout, details and characteristics remain today. 

Photo Credit: Federationdetails.blogspot.com
Clayfield House
Photo Credit: Federationdetails.blogspot.com

Turrawan demonstrated the history and development of the Queensland house, associated with the well-designed ideas of a prominent and influential architect. 

Clayfield House in the Present

After 1920, Clayfield House was let to Alexander Murray for five years then Dr Neville Sutton used London Rd as his professional address. Mr Dods is known for integrating British architectural concepts into traditional Queensland designs and materials.

Photo Credit: Federationdetails.blogspot.com

When Dr Halford’s wife died in 1932, parts of Clayfield House were sold, including a portion of the tennis court. After Dr Halford’s death in 1945, Savoy Pictures Pty Limited, which has built a theatre next to the property, bought the site. 

Around 1960, Clayfield House was resurveyed and then subdivided into two blocks. BP Australia bought the first block on the corner and built a service station that operated for two decades. 

On the other hand, the second lot became the property of Rodney and Colleen Abbott, who built a boarding house. Today, the facility is still known as Clayfield House, providing assisted living and supported accommodation.