Birthday celebrations at Bismarck House

HOW many people can boast they celebrated their 83rd birthday at the place where they were born?

Bega’s Nita Quinn enjoyed lunch with family recently at Thornleigh on Newtown – her birthplace in 1929.

However, it was a different time for the building commonly known as Bismarck House.

Built in 1876, Bismarck was used as a private residence before becoming a private hospital in 1910.

It is estimated that Matron Murton helped deliver 2000 babies in Bismarck’s maternity ward.

Around 70 years ago, the house became residence for the Plevey family and was converted into small residential-style flats.

During this era, Ms Quinn says she spent a lot of time at the house.

In 1964, the property was purchased by Roy and Coral Sheenan.

The Sheenans’ nephew Norm Pearce and his wife Narelle purchased the property in 2003.

Following restoration, the building was opened as Thornleigh on Newtown cafe last year.

Ms Quinn was born and raised in Bega, deciding to stay in town all of her life.

She smiled as she reflected on how Bismarck House has changed in the past eight decades.

“It’s just great to see how it’s been done, it’s been restored beautifully – they have done a fantastic job,” she said.

“Thornleigh is an important part of Bega.”

Ms Quinn said it was important to return to Thornleigh for her big milestone.

“All I wanted to do was celebrate my birthday where I was born,” she said.

“I feel a connection, I just wanted it there.”

Fittingly, one day later, another local resident also enjoyed a special trip to Thornleigh.

Candelo’s Marge Simpson took part in the Tathra Torch Bearers for Legacy 50-year anniversary celebrations (BDN, 25/9).

It was the first time Ms Simpson had been to the house since her childhood.

Ms Simpson, who was raised on a farm in Nethercote, was the third of seven siblings born at the Thornleigh hospital.

She said the house was very similar to how she remembered it.

“It’s not terribly different,” Ms Simpson said.

“The veranda out the back in the roof is high, but it’s been done up.”

Ms Simpson will celebrate her 90th birthday on December 22 and said Thornleigh was a special place.

“I’m glad it’s still there,” she said.

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