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Key events - 1848 to 1900



15 March

Opening of Melbourne’s first general public hospital, the Melbourne Hospital.



Early August

A group of ladies raises the need for a lying-in hospital with the Anglican Dean of Melbourne (Dr Hussey Burgh Macartney).

8 August

The ladies’ committee joins forces with two young doctors, Dr John Maund and Dr Richard Tracy, who had independently seen the need for establishment of a lying-in hospital.

14 August

A meeting is held to inspect premises leased by Drs Maund and Tracy at No. 41 Albert Street, East Melbourne. A Committee of Management is formed and Mrs Fanny Perry, wife of the Anglican Bishop of Melbourne, is elected as President.
Hospital named: Melbourne Lying-in Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women and Children

 19 August

First (two) midwifery patients admitted to Australia’s first public women’s hospital (Melbourne’s second public hospital).

 16 September

First live child born; a boy. Born to Mrs Oldfield, an Englishwoman.

13 December

A public meeting approves establishment of the Melbourne Lying-in Hospital. The appointment of the Committee of Management and honoraries is confirmed.




The government grants two acres of land in Madeline Street, North Melbourne (later known as Swanston St, Carlton) as a permanent hospital site.

Dr. John Maund and Dr. Richard Tracy appointed Honorary Physicians for life “in acknowledgement of the strenuous and praiseworthy efforts made by them in promoting the formation of this Institution”.


Dr John Maund publishes an analysis of the first hundred confinements at the hospital in the Australian Medical Journal.



3 April

Death of Dr John Maund, aged 35. After his death the hospital committee sets aside a sum of money for a portrait in oils by Nicholas Chevalier and a memorial tablet.

22 October

The new hospital officially opened by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Barkly.




The first resident surgeon, Mr James Barrett, appointed at a salary of £200.

The first Australian hospital to commence training of nurses and midwives.




Pupils first admitted to the hospital for a formal training course in midwifery nursing.




Dr Richard Tracy appointed first lecturer in obstetric medicine and diseases of women and children at the University of Melbourne.


Dr Richard Tracy performs the first successful ovariotomy – surgical removal of an ovarian tumour - in Victoria (at the time, only the second successful operation in Australia).




Training of medical students begins at the hospital.




Rooms are added for the reception of outpatients.




Mrs Perry returns to England with her husband. Lady McCulloch is her successor as President of the Committee of Management.

7 November

Death of Dr Richard Tracy.




Scarlet fever epidemic closes hospital (re-opens February 1876).




New wing added includes an operating room, two small wards, a sitting room for students, a dining room and bedrooms for nurses and a convalescent ward.




Telephone is installed.




Decision made to appoint separate residents for the Midwifery Department and the Infirmary.

American actress Genevieve Ward gives a performance of “Antigone” in the Melbourne Town Hall, raising more than £2,500 towards the building of a new maternity wing.

c. 1886



Name changed to The Women’s Hospital and Infirmary for Diseases of Women and Children.




Name changed again – ‘children’ removed from the title.

Work on the Genevieve Ward Wing (new Midwifery Department in Cardigan Street) completed and officially opened by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Loch.

Appointment of first salaried Superintendent-Secretary.




Dr Margaret Whyte, first woman doctor to hold post on hospital staff, appointed Assistant Resident Officer, Midwifery Department.



28 April

New Infirmary Wing (in Swanston Street, south of the existing building, close to Grattan St) opened by Lady Sybil Brassey, wife of the Governor of Victoria.




Dr Helen Sexton is the first woman to be elected a member of the honorary staff.


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