BAXTER, Dr Ernest Joel (c1902–50) & Sylvia:
Dr Baxter was one of Springwood’s most
admired and respected medical practitioners. Both physician and surgeon, he
trained in a number of Sydney hospitals.
born in Western Australia and was the son of Mr and Mrs John Baxter. In December 1929, following his marriage in August to
Sylvia Watson (the daughter of Mr and Mrs
J. A. Watson), he purchased the practice of Dr Milne in Springwood and
remained here for the rest of his life. There
were no children of the marriage.
His initiation into the
Springwood practice was not an easy one. On the evening of 27 January 1930 a
crowded excursion train ran off the rails and over an embankment at Warrimoo.
Dr Baxter was one of the first to arrive at the accident site and found both
the driver and the fireman dead and a 16-year-old Blaxland porter, who had been
riding in the engine, trapped under the wreckage. Assisted by another doctor,
Dr Baxter crawled under the engine and, in a two-hour operation carried out in
heavy rain and using the light from car headlamps, amputated the boy’s hand to
A cheerful and sociable man
with a keen sense of humour, he involved himself in numerous town activities.
He served a period as president of the Golf Club and as a member of the Christ
Church Parish Council, was a life member of the School of Arts, a member of the
Masonic Lodge and was actively associated with the Springwood Development
League. He was a keen golfer and tennis player and a champion at billiards.
‘His handling of the cue’, noted one admirer, ‘like everything about him, was
neatness personified.’ He was also a member of the honorary medical staff at
the Nepean District Hospital.
Dr Baxter carried on working
almost to the end of his life, assisted and supported by his equally popular
wife, Sylvia. He died on 12 April 1950 in the Mater Misericordia Hospital in
Sydney and was cremated at the Woronora Crematorium. A memorial service was
held at Christ Church, Springwood, on 30 April and a committee was later
established to raise money for a public memorial. The Dr Baxter Memorial Gates,
designed by Wynn Davies, were erected at Buckland Park in front of the
Springwood war memorial as a lasting tribute to one of Springwood’s most
Baxter Memorial Gates
Pamela Smith BA (Hons) Hist. Adv. Dip. LFAH