John Joseph Collins was born on 17 July 1881 at Sydney, NSW, the son of Peter John Collins and Ann Kelly. He married Mary Ellenor Cook on 25 July 1900 at Waterloo, NSW; and they had four sons and seven daughters. J J Collins died at Royal South Sydney Hospital, Zetland, NSW on 5 April 1961, aged 79 years; he was buried at Woronora Cemetery. He lived at 75 Queen Street, Alexandria.
Occupation & interests
Collins was employed on the NSW Railways from 1900 until 1951. His first job on the railways was as a Night Gatekeeper at Carlton Station in February 1900. Within a month, he became a Junior Porter at Homebush Station (and later Stanmore and Lewisham) and in 1903, he became a shunter. From 1914, his career within the Railway Ambulance Corps, which provided basic first aid for railway staff and the travelling public, began. Collins became an Assistant General Secretary in the Ambulance Corps in 1914 and was promoted to Ambulance Officer in 1923. He was promoted to Chief Ambulance Examiner in the Ambulance Corps from 1935, and remained in the position until he retired in 1951. From 1949 to 1951, he was the General Secretary of the Ambulance Corps. Collins was one of the first to receive the Dr Woodward memorial medal and he successfully coached various NSW Interstate Competition teams.
J J Collins was a member of the Board of Management of the Royal South Sydney Hospital from 1916 until his retirement in 1960, excluding 1921-22. He was appointed to the board in 1916, however, he had been associated with the administration of the hospital since its inception in 1912. He served as the hospital’s third chairman from 1950 to 1959. The former male ward was renovated and renamed the J J Collins Ward in 1973, honouring his service to the hospital of 42 years. The family of J J Collins had a long association with the Royal South Sydney Hospital in various positions, including as board members, until the hospital’s closure.
J J Collins was also involved in the Catholic Church, serving as vice-president of the Catholic Federation and later as a committee member of the Catholic Club. Collins Street in Beaconsfield and Alexandria is named after J J Collins, and in 2017, the J J Collins memorial fountain was created at the Matron Ruby Grant Park on the former Royal South Sydney Hospital site.
Honours & awards
John Joseph Collins was awarded an MBE – The Order of the British Empire – Member (Civil) in 1957. Citation: President of Royal South Sydney Hospital.
Local government service
Collins was an alderman on Alexandria Council 1914-48, representing Beaconsfield Ward. He served as mayor three times: 1918-19, 1927-28 and 1947.
Alexandria Town Hall in Garden Street, designed and completed by Ferdinand H Reuss Snr in July 1881, underwent major alterations during Collins’ mayorship and was officially opened by the Mayoress Mary Collins on 2 August 1928. The architects were David T Morrow & Gordon.
‘The Polling’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February 1914, 10, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/15473283
‘Catholic Federation’, The Catholic Press, 7 June 1917, 12, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105175637
‘New Town Hall: Opened at Alexandria’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 August 1928, 17, https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/16483749
Additional information has been provided by Karen Hutchinson (granddaughter)