Backward Glance: Doctor Francis Short
  • Wednesday 24 February 2016
Our local streetscapes have seen many changes.

Over the years many buildings have been destroyed by fires while changing social and economic demands have seen new businesses open and others close.

Former businesses and their owners can quickly became a distant memory so this article recalls one such business - the Nambour-based surgery of Doctor Short which once occupied the site of the present Nambour Library.

Dr Francis John Short was the son of Robert Short and Agnes Himing. He was born in Kew, Victoria on August 29, 1886 and died in Nambour on July 20, 1968 aged 81 years.

After studying for his medical degree in Melbourne he came to Queensland in 1910 and worked at Toowoomba General Hospital. Then, in 1912, he relocated to Mittagong in New South Wales.

On February 18, 1914, Dr Short married Florence Maude Bennett in Toowoomba and the couple initially returned to Mittagong.

They moved to Nambour in 1919, where Dr Short established a private practice. He was one of the first doctors in the township, along with Dr Malaher and Dr Penny.

In 1935, Dr Short was appointed Maroochy Shire Council Medical Officer and also held the position of Government Medical Officer for Nambour.

On their arrival in Nambour, Dr Short and his family lived in a house in Mitchell Street.

In 1939, they moved to a new two-storey house at the southern end of Currie Street. It was specially built for the family and included a surgery in the front section.

An interview in 1986 with Dr Short’s youngest daughter Peggy reveals her recollections of living in Nambour from the 1930s onwards and gives an insight into Dr Short’s world at that time.

This oral history interview with Mrs Peggy Payne took place on April 8, 1986 and a transcript is available on the Heritage tab on council’s library website.

In this interview, Peggy shared her memories of Nambour in those earlier days and especially of her father who worked as a doctor in this locality for 49 years.

She related her memories of how he had a very busy general practice and was called on to travel to outlying communities to give immunizations.

He also treated a polio victim and delivered many babies in his medical rooms.

She mentioned that he was well respected and liked by his patients, especially the children, and that he was always very careful and concerned for his patient’s welfare.

Dr Short loved music and it was very important in his family home.

He was an excellent pianist and often played Beethoven and Chopin.

He also loved sport and would listen to the cricket broadcasts from England late at night and being a keen bowler, he became a foundation member of the Nambour Bowls Club.

Dr Short and his family remained in their Currie Street home until 1966, when Dr Short retired from private practice.

He retained the position of Maroochy Shire Council’s Medical Officer until his death in 1968.

The Currie Street house and surgery was subsequently occupied by a variety of tenants before being demolished in February 1986 to make way for the construction of the Nambour Library.

Construction began on the site adjacent to the Maroochy Shire Council Chambers and the Nambour Library was officially opened on December 23, 1986.

The library had previously occupied the old Commonwealth Bank building on the opposite side of Currie Street since 1981.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Hero image
Doctor Short and family lived in Nambour and often stayed at their holiday home in Maroochydore. Pictured seated on the family Buick: Dr Short, wife Florence and their daughters (l to r) Beryl, Peggy and Joan.

Carousel images
Image 1: Dr Short's former residence and surgery adjacent to the Nambour Baptist Church, Currie Street, Nambour, 1970.
Image 2: Residence of Doctor Short and family, corner of Mitchell and Daniel Streets, Nambour, ca 1925.
Image 3: Excavator and workmen preparing the construction site for the Nambour Library, Currie Street, Nambour, April 1986.
Image 4: Doctor Francis Short with his bride Florence Bennett and their attendants on their wedding day, 18 February 1914. Photograph taken at the Globe Hotel, Toowoomba, where the couple held their reception following their marriage at St. James Church.
Image 5: Dr FJ Short, a Foundation Member of the Nambour Bowling Club, being presented with his super veterans badge, Nambour, 15 September 1966.