From 100 years to 1000 days, Tweddle celebrates its Centenary

From 100 years to 1000 days, Tweddle celebrates its Centenary


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 of 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.


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 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 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.’


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. The Mothercraft Nursing Course commenced at Tweddle in 1924. This course was phased out in November 1978 as directed by the Health Commission of Victoria. 731 students qualified as Mothercraft nurses at Tweddle over this period.

Centenary Celebrations

Tweddle’s Centenary Celebrations are temporarily on hold due to the COVID19 pandemic. Tweddle has a Centenary Facebook page which is uniting past and present Tweddle staff and families. We invite you to follow the page to stay up to date with announcements relating to our Centenary celebrations.

We would like to thank Jim Hevey, 1939 Tweddle baby who has helped Tweddle to research and document its history and restore photos. Public Records Office Victoria has supported the development of a Tweddle Centenary website which will be launched in 2021.

You can become a Friend of Tweddle and help vulnerable families thrive with a tax deductible donation to the Tweddle Foundation.

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