The organisation that is now known as ‘Tweddle’ evolved following the establishment on the 13th of September 1920 of The Society for the Health of Women and Children of Victoria (Plunket System). Major influences on the Foundation of The Society included: Dr John William Springthorpe, Sister Maud Primrose, and Mr James Hume-Cook (Honorary Secretary of the Society). The Society for the Health of Women and Children was funded by businessman Joseph Tweddle and introduced the rival New Zealand based Plunket system.
In 1922 a 15 year lease was granted by the Footscray Council to the Society for the Health of Women and Children for land on the corner of Gordon and Barkly Streets Footscray. On March 10 1924 the Tweddle Hospital for Babies and the School of Mothercraft was officially opened by the Countess of Stradbroke. It was a Training Centre for Plunket and Primrose nurses and was the first School of Mothercraft in Victoria. The new nurses’ home and Matrons cottage site on Crown Land was reserved for The Tweddle Baby Hospital on the 12th April 1961
The initial Hospital block was financed by Mr J Tweddle, the Nurses Quarters by Mr T M Burke and the Mothers and Babies Cottage by Mr (later Sir) William Angliss.
Passion drove the vision
Dr John William Springthorpe, a well-known lung, chest and heart specialist, was appalled at the infant mortality figures. There was no place to train double certificated sisters in the methods of baby care that had proved so successful in New Zealand. Miss Primrose and Dr Springthorpe put the case to Mr Tweddle. Miss Primrose also enlisted other helpers including Mr Gent, the Town Clerk of Footscray and a Mr J Levy. Eventually, Footscray Council granted the present site, and Mr Tweddle donated £3000 pounds to start building operations with a guaranteed overdraft of up to £7000 pounds. Miss Moreland, who had been one of Dr Truby King’s Sisters, was brought from New Zealand as Matron for Tweddle and was so keen to improve conditions that she worked for at least the first six months without salary.
The Plunket System and Dr Frederic Truby King (1858 – 1938)
The Tweddle Hospital and first school of Mothercraft in Victoria was based on Dr Frederic Truby King’s ‘Plunket system of infant care’. His specialty was child health and his vision was to help mothers and save babies who were dying from malnutrition and disease. He believed that scientifically formulated methods on nutrition and infant care were the key to reducing the death rate among babies and children.
The Plunket System objective was:
- To educate potential mothers and mothers, in the essential work of mothercraft.
- To promote the natural feeding of infants.
- To see that the baby, where the natural supply has failed, is put on to a food approximating as nearly as possible to human milk.
- To disseminate knowledge with respect to maternity matters.
- To place fully qualified Plunket nurses in charge of given districts, in order that those requiring attention may receive it. ‘During the year, Her Excellency the Countess of Stradbroke has consented to become a Patroness of the Society.’
Infant Welfare Training and Mothercraft Nurse training
The infant welfare nursing course commenced at Tweddle in 1924. This course was phased out in February 1980 as directed by the Health Commission of Victoria. 872 Nursing sisters trained and qualified for their third certificate and 49 completed refresher courses. 731 students qualified as Mothercraft nurses at Tweddle over this period.
THE SOCIETY FOR THE HEALTH OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN OF VICTORIA
From the ‘Tweddle Baby Hospital Book of Remembrance 1965’
- Sister Maude Primrose (trained by Sir Truby King of NZ)
- Dr J W Springthorpe
- Mr J Hume Cook
Formation 13th September 1920
First Office Bearers
President: The Lord Mayor of Melbourne The Hon J.G. Aikman MLC
Vice Presidents :
- The Lady Mayoress – Mrs J L Stein
- Mrs J Booth
- Mrs D A Skene
- Councillor William Cash
- Mr E D Patterson
Mr L J Levy
Hon Secretary Mr J. Hume Cook
Chairman of Council
Mr John W Springthorpe
Medical and Advisory Board
- Dr Stanley Argyle
- Dr Charles Perry
- Dr Allen Robertson
- Dr J W Springthorpe
- Dr Ramsay Webb
Dr Truby King (New Zealand)
Objects of the Society
- To educate potential mothers and mothers in the essential work of mothercraft
- To promote the natural feeding of infants
- To see that the baby, where the natural supply has failed, is put on to a food approximating as nearly as possible to human milk
- To Disseminate knowledge with respect to maternity matters
- To place fully qualified Plunket nurses in charge of given districts in order that those requiring attention may receive
Termination of the Society
Taken over by The Tweddle Baby Hospital, 1 July 1958, from the then Trustees, Messrs I A Davis and A I H Gifford
Tweddle Hospital for Babies & School of Mothercraft – Founder
Mr J T Tweddle