In 1934 Taree citizens approached the Newcastle Ambulance Committee to establish a district ambulance service. Newcastle agreed and donated an ambulance and £100. The service was so well supported that a station officer, James Farmer, and driver were soon appointed.1 The station began in the garage of a house owned by Mrs Stokes at 95 Manning Street (in 2022 the Manning Mall carpark next to the former Protestant Hall).
The service area was bound by towns including Taree, Gloucester, Tuncurry-Forster, Port Macquarie and Wauchope. In 1940 the service had grown sufficiently for Manning District to separate from Newcastle. On 1 April 1940 the first and only Superintendent to be stationed at Taree was appointed, Cyril Edgar Wiseman. Wiseman remained in the role until his retirement in 1978.
The first ambulance was a 1934 Humber which was joined by another Humber in 1938. The third ambulance was a Ford Deluxe Panel Van purchased in 1940. During WWII vehicles were hard to acquire so second hand panel vans were converted for the task.2
In 1942 the building was purchased from Mrs Stokes and plans were made to build a new ambulance station. The old building was removed to 5 Deb Street, Taree, some of which still remains. The new station building was designed by the same architects as the Taree Masonic Hall, Jeater, Rodd & Hall and was completed in 1947.3
After many years of service the property was sold to Taree Shopping Centre Pty Ltd in 1990 with the station later demolished and replaced by a car park.4
Author: Janine Roberts
Related story “Message in a bottle” found when Mrs Stokes’ house was demolished.
1 Manning River Times, 21 March 1934, 2.
2 A brief history of the Ambulance Service 1934 to July 1978. Compiled by retired Ambulance Superintendent Cyril E Wiseman, May 1997.
3 Manning River Times, 17 April 1937, 8.
4 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 5555-165.