Altona Hospital History

Time Line


  • Dr Louis Joel appointed medical officer by Shire of Werribee for the newly created Altona Riding and immediately set about to improve medical services in the area
  • Queenie (Sylvia) Cook was advertising her Blyth Street home as Waverly Private Hospital – hospital was unregistered and it was reported Queenie did not have the claimed nursing qualifications
  • Dr Joel’s report for the end of the year urged establishment of a baby health centre in Altona


  • Altona Hospital committee led by CW Borrack, John O’Brien, James Duke, Charles Lugg (secretary), P Payne and Charles S Walker (treasurer)


  • Committee announced contributory plan by local residents for community hospital
  • Following a report in The Argus on the financial structure proposed for the new hospital, a correspondent urged suburbs of Camberwell, Surrey Hills, Box Hill and Canterbury to do the same
  • Nurse Ivy Weber came on board to help Dr Joel establish the eight bed hospital in Pier Street, north of railway line
  •  3 Dec, Saturday – Altona Community Hospital officially opened by Sir James Barrett, renowned ophthalmologist, vice-chancellor University of Melbourne and founder of the Bush Nursing Association movement
    Altona Community Hospital was the first established in the metropolitan area based on the bush nursing principle for its financial structure
  •  Dr Joel was president
    Hospital could take up to 10 patients
  •  First inpatient was James Duke
  • First born in new hospital was Alan Paproth on 18 October 1932
  • Dr John L Lewin joined Dr Joel soon after the hospital opened
  • June – Will Fife, Altona resident, was committee’s vice president
  • Oct – P Payne continued as treasurer; Mrs G Payne (possibly wife of P Payne) became secretary – both held their positions for more than five years
  • Richard Blomberg collected the weekly contributions (the project having received his approval, the well known radical socialist who displayed the communist paper ‘Guardian’ in his shop window)
  • 31 Dec, Sunday – Werribee Bush Nursing Hospital closed, their members transferring to Altona
  • Miss Alice Farrant worked nearly four decades as auxiliary worker, committee member and board member


  • Foundation stone for new hospital in Sargood Street laid by Shire of Werribee president, Cr D Grieve; a time capsule containing copies of daily newspapers for that day and a parchment setting out the hospital’s history was laid beneath the foundation stone
  • 5 Feb, Saturday – New modern brick hospital opened in Sargood Street. Built with low interest loan through James Charitable Trust (Edwin M James found a fortune on the goldfields; he was better known as a surgical dresser and dispenser at Melbourne Hospital, who used some of his fortune to benefit community projects)
  • Official proceedings included John Lemmon MLA (State Government), Newport Band, Alan Paproth (first baby born in original hospital) and Matron Weber
  • 9 Aug, Wednesday – first general meeting
  • Aug – At second annual general meeting committee vacancies were filled by Messrs J Grant, L Price, Coffey,Mahon, Mesdames Lowe and Lewis
  • June – Dame Enid Lyons and her three daughters were guests at hospital ball preceded by their full inspection of the hospital. The ball was held at the Altona Picture Theatre 1941Mrs Edith Roach (sister of Alice Farrant) began long association with the hospital – hospital secretary from 1946for 22 years, then manager and board member
  • Sep – Office bearers elected were president – Miss A Farrant; vice presidents – L Fleming, CS Walker & W Grant; hon secretary – Mrs E Roach; acting hon treasurer – CS Walker; Committee – JK Grant, Rev R Steel, Mesdames Dunlop, W Grant, Harris, Roach, Roberts, Farrant; Messrs L Fleming, CS Walker, J Sheriffs
  • Mrs Doreen Hammersley worked many years as hospital cook after starting there as a kitchen hand
  • Major upgrade of hospital increased capacity to 25 beds, included a new wing
  • Oct – Historic marker unveiled on the Pier Street site of the original hospital as part of the Back to Altona celebrations organised by the Altona Historical Society, attended by Dr Louis Joel, Matron Ivy Weber, Mayor JI Stewart and Mrs Stewart, Altona Historical Society members Mrs Smith (president), Arthur Walker (past president) and Allan Clark (secretary)
  • Operating theatres upgraded including installation of a full X-ray unit
  • Altona Hospital closed after 64 years of service to the community