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 joined the Hospital Board and 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
  • 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.  1941: Mrs Edith Roach (sister of Alice Farrant) began long association with the hospital – hospital secretary from 1946 for 22 years, then manager and board member


  • James Trust provided more funding to the Hospital to build a Staff Quarters that had 5 bedrooms, alongside the hospital which allowed the capacity of the hospital to incease to 14 beds
  • 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
  • 1951, Extensions were undertaken to the Nurses’ Home which now contains a dining room. This was funded by the James Charitable Trust. Land that the Hospital occupied, corner McBain and Queen Streets was purchased by/for the Hospital for £922
  • Mrs Doreen Hammersley worked many years as hospital cook after starting there as a kitchen hand
  • 1957 The Hospital Board severed its lang relationship with the James Trust and sought funding from the Hospitals & Charities Commission
  • 1959 The remaining blocks of land in Queen Street and Sargood Street were purchased / transferred to the Hospital.


  • Alterations and extensions resulting in the hospital expanding from 12 to 18 beds. Hospital also now registered as Altona District Hospital, previously Altona Community Hospital. These alterations were commence abt. December 1960
  • Remodelling and additions were undertaken in 1964, they appear to be minor in nature as the work started and finished in the same year. Completed 30 April and Approved to open 29 May 1964.
  • 1964: Land was purchased at the corner of Blackshaws and Millers Roads for the purpose of building a larger Hospital.
  • 1966: Expansion plans were approved by the Commission on 29 July 1966 and were drawn up by the Architect from the Hospital & Charities Commission Architectural Division. The expansion made to the hospital included a new Maternity Ward and bathroom facilities. A storage area was still being constructed. This increased the Bed Capacity to 20 beds.
  • 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


  • Further alterations and extension work was completed 26 July 1978. This included a new storeroom and pathology room. This work was designed by the Hospitals & Charities Commission Architectural Division.
  • April 1982 The Pharmacy Board required the hospital to provide an upgraded pharmacy facility. The area chosen was the old storage area so this area also needed to be moved. Additionally, the existing Medical Records store had reached capacity requiring the installation of a compactus system
  • improvements to wards, theatre and patient lounges- modern switchboard- micro computer facilities.
  • Altona Hospital closed after 64 years of service to the community