Homœopathic Hospital, Melbourne

  • Abstract:
    This is a copy of an article which appeared in the 1903 edition of The Cyclopedia of Victoria.

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)


The Homœopathic Hospital owes its institution to the earnest efforts of a limited number of gentlemen strongly impressed with the principles of therapeutic treatment first introduced by Hahnemann, the famous German physician, who met on the 30th October, 1869, to concert measures for the establishment of a homœopathic dispensary in Melbourne. There were present on that occasion the very Rev. Dean Macartney (who occupied the chair), the Rev. John Turner, Drs. J.W. Gunst, R. Ray, and J.P. Teague; and messrs. J.W. Hunt, J. Wilson, E. Gill, C. Wilks, J. Shekelton, J.D.W. Robertson, W. Elms, M. Denenish, T. Plaisted, and B. Poulton. It was then resolved to form a homœopathic dispensary for the gratuitous medical relief of the poor of Melbourne and its suburbs; and those who were present formed themselves into a provisional committee for the purpose of giving practical effect to that resolution. At a subsequent meeting, the committee was enlarged by the inclusion of the following gentlemen:- Judge Bindon; Messrs. W. Templeton, P.M.; S.G. Henty, R. Henty; W.J. Doyne, C.E.; J.S. Chambers, T. Osborne; R.H. Martin, who consented to act as the secretary; and Mr T.J. Crouch, who undertook the duties of the treasurer for the time being.


As soon as the necessary arrangements could be made, the first dispensary was opened at 153 Collins Street, and the following practitioners were appointed its honorary officers:- J.W. Gunst, M.D.; Robert Ray, M.D., M.R.C.S., Eng.; and J.P. Teague, M.D.


The first meeting of subscribers was held on the 2nd of March, 1870, the Dean of Melbourne in the chair, when the Bishop of Melbourne was elected patron, and Mr. Justice Williams, vice-patron. At the same time Chief Justice Sir W.F. Stawell was chosen president, and messrs. W. Templeton and Jas. Wilson, vice-presidents; Mr. T.J. Crouch being appointed to the joint offices of secretary and treasurer. The first board of management was thus constituted: - The Dean of Melbourne, the Rev. John Turner, and Messrs. J.W. Hunt, W. Elms, E. Gill, V. Hellicar, W. Lynch, T. Osborne, T. Plaisted, J. Shekelton, W. Templeton, C. Wilks, and J.S. Chambers. For a time, the late Mr. W. Templeton, P.M., acted as chairman of the board, and was succeeded, on his demise, by the late Rev. John Turner, at whose decease the chairmanship devolved upon the present occupant of the position, Mr. J.W. Hunt, one of the earliest promoters and staunchest friends of the institution, which continued to pursue a career of unobtrusive usefulness until the year 1876, when the increasing demands made upon it by the public necessitated an extension of the agencies at its command; and accordingly it was resolved to open a hospital for the reception of both in-door and out-door patients, and the premises now owned by Dr. Neild, in Spring Street, were erected for the purpose, the hospital being legally incorporated in the year following, 1877.


Having “a local habitation,” as well as “a name,” the institution became more widely known year by year, and the number of necessitous persons resorting to it for homœopathic treatment augmented so considerably as to outgrow the accommodation available for them at the house in Spring Street, and application was made to the Government for a grant of land upon which to erect a suitable hospital. The application was favourably received, and after many sites had been inspected, that upon which the building now stands was selected as the most eligible, and a Crown grant was issued for its occupation and possession. The foundation stone was laid on the 25th of July, 1882, by the Most Noble the Marquis of Normanby, the then Governor of Victoria, and the first portions of the building proceeded with were the main administrative block and the northern wing, constituting Nos. 1 and 2 male and female wards of the present pile. The southern wing, containing wards 3 and 4, owes its erection entirely to the munificent liberality of the late Mr. James L. Hosie, who defrayed the entire cost of building it, amounting to the sum of £8,041. Nor did his munificence end here, for when the structure had been completed, he undertook to furnish and fit it for occupation, solely at his own expense. Deeds like these deserve to be held in lasting remembrance, for no nobler expenditure of money can be well conceivable than that which is auxiliary to the alleviation of human suffering, not merely in the present, but for generations yet to come.


The foundation of this portion of the building was laid with befitting ceremony on the 12th February, 1890, by His Excellency the then Earl of Hopetoun, the late Governor-General of Australia, in the presence of a large gathering of the leading citizens of Melbourne.


Attached to this wing of the hospital are six small private wards, for paying patients; and at the extreme end of the block are the consulting and waiting rooms, in the former of which 1,736 out-patients were treated last year. An extension of what is spoken of above as the main administrative block was built some years ago, at a cost of £3,000, by a number of gentlemen forming an “Increased Hospital Accommodation Committee.”


The architects for the central block and northern wing were Messrs. Crouch (since deceased) and Wilson; and the architect of the southern wing, Mr. J.T. Giblins.


In the basement, solidly constructed of bluestone, are situated the kitchen, dispensary, and out-patients’ department, two consulting rooms, and an out-patients’ examination room; accommodation being provided in this department of the building for approximately 200 patients; and the statistics of the institution show that the number of those who attend this department of the hospital for advice and medicine is steadily on the increase year by year. It may be added that, besides the general practitioners, specialists attend on certain days of the week for the treatment of different diseases requiring a special course of treatment.


Recent additions made to the hospital by the board of management include some of considerable importance to the general well-being of its inmates. Among these may be mentioned a laundry, fully equipped with the latest and best appliances, so as to secure the thorough disinfection, as well as cleansing of all linen, etc., employed in the institution; a vertical boiler and engine, a new store-room, and a dining hall and sleeping apartments for the domestics; while the kitchen quarters have lately undergone such alterations as will conduce to both greater efficiency and economy in this department. A balcony has been added to the nurses’ rooms, which cannot fail to affect their temperature very beneficially, especially during the summer months; while the sanitary conditions of the hospital have been necessarily improved by its having been brought into connection with the general sewage system, which has been effected at an outlay of close upon £700; a heavy draft upon the finances of the institution. The grounds in front of the hospital have been laid out under the direction of Mr. W.R. Guilfoyle, of the Botanical Gardens, whose name is a sufficient guarantee for the picturesqueness of the design, and the grounds at the rear of the building are in course of plantation; and everyone who knows the important functions which vegetation plays in purifying the atmosphere, will recognise the desirability from a hygienic point of view, as well as on account of the grateful colour and cheerful influence of foliage upon the eyes and minds of invalids, of surrounding hospitals with a belt of trees and shrubs, at such a distance as not to intercept the free admission of light and air.


At the rear of the main building, but sufficiently remote for the purpose desired, is a small pavilion containing five rooms, available for the isolation of patients suffering from, or suspected of, infectious maladies.


The total number of those who have been treated in the hospital since it ceased to be a dispensary, up to the end of June, 1900, was no less than 91,000, and it is worthy of mention that the cubic space per bed per patient is 1,415 cubic feet, and for each person suffering from an infectious disease, it is 1,650 cubic feet.


Attached to the institution is a training school for nurses, in which ladies undergo the instruction and discipline necessary to qualify them to become competent attendants on the sick. The course of study extends over three years, and the subjects upon which the pupils are annually examined comprehend anatomy, physiology, and two courses of general nursing, besides which a great deal of clinical instruction is imparted to the students by the various members of the honorary medical staff. A considerable number of learners have passed through the school, where each has received a thorough training on the theory and practice of nursing. The lecture season commences every year in May, and continues till about October, the members of the honorary medical staff constituting the lecturers, each fulfilling the duty in rotation. The training school has so successfully discharged the duties for which it was organised, that several of those who have obtained the certificates of the institution have been since enrolled members of the British Nurses’ Association.


In connection with the hospital a number of ladies met a few years ago in the Town Hall, Melbourne, for the purpose of forming an association to assist in providing for the comfort of patients and nurses. This organisation is now known as The Homœopathic Ladies’ Aid Association, and has proved to be a most valuable co-efficient to the board of management, in a variety of ways, as may be imagined by all who know what ministering angels women are capable of proving themselves to be “when pain and anguish rack the brow.” Its members meet monthly at the hospital, and among other thoughtful and kindly acts, have endowed a cot. Mrs. J.M. Darlot was the first president of the association. It is only due to the present chairman of the board of management to state that the success and present prosperous condition of the Homœopathic Hospital is largely due to the sustained and untiring industry of that gentleman. From its very foundation Mr. J.W. Hunt has made its welfare and progress the objects of his unceasing care, and he has had the gratification of witnessing it take its place among the foremost of the institutions founded for similar objects in and around the metropolis of Victoria, in proof of which we subjoin a synoptical statement of the work performed in each, together with an analysis of the expenditure involved in the execution of that work; the management of the hospital deriving much satisfaction from the low rate of mortality shown in these returns, and the relatively small outlay incurred in medicines.


The figures are derived from the report of the Government Inspector of Charities, and will be found of special interest, as presenting a comprehensive and comparative view of the transactions of the five important institutions specified.








Daily Average Inpatients






Total Out-Patients






Average Yearly Cost per Bed, Inpatients

£.  s.   d.

78   0  11

£.  s.   d.

68   0    0

£.  s.   d.

62   3    3

£.  s.   d.

90   9    6

£.  s.   d.

72  16    9

Average Cost each Inpatient


4  10  11


4  15  11


3   4    8


4   4    5


5   6    6

Estimated Cost, Out-patients


1,808    4    7


577    0    9


277    8    9


350  16    5


1,284   14    1

Cost of Management


7,627    7    3


2,944    17    7


1,301    13    5


2,108    19    0


2,510    17    1

Salaries and Wages


25    6   10


24      5    2


20      8    9


26     1   11


25     15    7



19   16    6


19     3    7


19      9    1


23    12    5


14    12    3

Fuel and Light


5    11    2


6    3    5


3    15    2


9     9    9


6    11    9

Medical Comforts


2    16    1


2     19    2


2     6    4


1     8    9


0    16    2



6     3     6


3       5    7


2    16    8


5     0    5


2      8    0

Bedding and Drapery


2    11    0


1     10    3


2      5    1


3     9    3


2      6    5

Printing, Advertisement and Stationery


1      9    1


0     16    7


1     5    0


2   14    9


6      2    7

Government Grant


13,800    0    0


4,00    0    0


1,400    0    0


2,385    0    0


600     0    0

Local Contributions


11,506    0    0


4,316    0    0


2,395    0    0


3,153    0    0


8,711    0    0

Average Stay in Days – In-Patients

20 males

22 females

25 males

25 females

18 males

19 females


14 females

27 males

26 females

Rate of Mortality













In addition to the foregoing information it may be stated that during the year ending the 30th June, 1900, 745 operations were performed, and 1,736 casualties treated in the hospital, and that while the Government grant to all hospitals per in-patient is £30 3s. 7d., only £15 7s. 7d. is allowed per head to the Homœopathic.


The following is a list of office-bearers for the year 1900-1901, but since its first issue, death has deprived the institution of the valued support of Mr. J.M. Bruce:- Patron and Patroness: His Excellency Lord Brassey and Lady Brassey. President: Senator Robt. Reid. Vice-Presidents: J.W. Hunt, Chas. Hudson, J.P. Hon. Treasurer: Councillor G. Geo. Crespin, J.P. Board of Management: W.K. Bouton, M.D., Ch.B.; G. Brown, W.J. Brown, Thos. P. Carney, Thos. J. Howard; C. Hudson, J.P.; C.W. Hartshorn, R.L. Ievers, C.E. Jarrett, Stephen King; Councillor Thos. Luxton, J.P.; W.E. Pickells, F.R.G.S., Eng.; Councillor C. Pleasance; W.B. Ray, M.D. Hon. Auditor: C.W. Ellis, F.I.A.V. Superintendent and Secretary: E.A. Bennett. Matron: K. Campbell. Collector: John Wing. Honorary Medical Officers: Physicians, Wm. R. Ray, M.D.; J.P. Teague, M.D. Surgeons: W.K. Bouton, M.D., Ch.B; E. Alleyne Cook, L.R.C.P., L.R.C.S. Out-Patient Department: J.A. Scott, M.B., M. Ch., Ed. (the eye); W. Warren, L.R.C.S.I., M.K.Q.C.P. (nose, ear, and throat); Percy Wisewould, M.B., C.M. Honorary Medical Electrician: A.M. Samuell.l Resident Medical Officers: W.G.C. Clark, M.D., Ch.B.; Wm L. Soule, B.A., M.D. Dispenser: A. Ward.


©   Barbara Armstrong