R.E. Bush and the Bishop’s Knoll Hospital
Robert Edwin Bush, like his brothers was educated at Clifton College. He was captain of the College’s First XI and later played for Gloucestershire alongside the greatest cricketer of all time WG Grace.
He played sixteen times between 1874 and 1877, scoring 217 runs at an average of 10.33 before he emigrated to Western Australia later that year where he became a very successful sheep farmer. Whilst in Australia he was instrumental in founding the Western Australia Cricket Association and was one of its first Vice-Presidents.
On returning to Bristol as a multi-millionaire in 1908 he and his second wife, Marjery, took up residence at the beautiful Bishop’s Knoll overlooking the Avon gorge with its large gardens.
With the outbreak of war in 1914 Bush wanted to play his part. Having made his fortune in Australia he wanted to repay the country that made him so wealthy, and so he immediately converted his house to a hospital to be used exclusively by Australian soldiers.
Initially, the Australian authorities refused his offer and he had to accept all Empire casualties but he finally won his battle and after 1916 only Australian soldiers were treated at Bishop’s Knoll.
Hundreds of Anzac soldiers came through the gates of the Knoll including Victoria Cross winner John Patrick Hamilton. The care, which was entirely funded by Bush, was reported as second to none with Bush himself working there as an orderly.
The first Australian cricket tour to England after the war was in 1921 and when they played Gloucestershire at Bristol they stayed at Bishop’s Knoll as guests of the Bush family.
Following Bush’s death in 1939 Bishop’s Knoll was bought by The Bristol Aeroplane Company and used as an apprentice school before being turned into the BRI School for Nurses. In 1973 this once grand house was demolished and replaced by flats and the land surrounding the development was acquired by The Woodland Trust
To commemorate the work of the hospital, a commemorative plaque had been presented by the Australian War Contingent Association but on demolition of the property it was returned to the Australian War Museum in Canberra.
Following a campaign by the Woodland Trust and with the support of the Australian Department for Veteran Affairs, a replica plaque was commissioned and on 24th August 2016, the 102nd Anniversary of the opening of the Hospital, in a ceremony attended on behalf of the County Cricket Club by the President and the Hon. Archivist, it was unveiled at the entrance to the woods.