Echuca - Moama Family History Group, Inc.

Post Office Box 707, Echuca, Victoria, 3564, Australia.
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    Echuca, Moama and District Historical Buildings

    Back to Echuca | Churches | Historical Buildings

    Alton Gallery, Alton Reserve, Echuca

    Taken from Victorian Government Gazette, No.9 2 March 2006 p. 459.

    The health of mothers and infants became of increasing concern in the first decades of the twentieth century. The early baby health movement was driven by committed volunteers frustrated at government inaction. Dr Isabella Younger Ross (1887-1956) who had studied infant health in England helped set up Victoria's first baby health clinic in Richmond in 1917. By 1918 the voluntary Victorian Baby Health Centres Association (VBHCA) was formed to oversee the growing number of centres. Financial support also came from local councils and in 1926 the State government formed the Infant Welfare Section of the Public Health Department and appointed Dr Vera Scantlebury Brown as the first Director.

    The first Baby Health Centre in Echuca was conducted from two small rooms in the Town Hall between 1925 and 1950. By 1947 the rooms were insufficient for the needs of the service. In the following year, despite severe post-war labour and material shortages, the Committee of the Baby Health Centre embarked on a fund-raising campaign for a new building, supported by the Echuca Rotary Club. The council provided land on Alton Reserve situated at the end of the commercial centre of the town, but provided no funding for the building. The committee took advantage of the newly introduced State Government construction subsidy of 1,000 pounds and the building was eventually completed by voluntary labour, donated materials and funds from individuals and local businesses and organisations. The building, opened by Dr. A. E. (Betty) Wilmot, Acting Director of the Maternal and Child Hygiene Section of the Health Department on 30 September 1950, is one of the first centres to be completed in country Victoria after World War Two. The architect for the building is unknown.

    In plan form the domestic-scale building is symmetrically arranged with double door entrances accessed by porches on either side of a central, projecting waiting room. The entrances and pram porches were specifically designed to provide easy pram access, as well as space for pram 'parking'. Other rooms include the consulting suite, as well as a utility room, kitchen, toilet, tools and wood room. Domestic in scale and design, the centre resembles a house typical of the austere period after the Second World War. The style can be described as Post-war Functionalist or Post-war Austere. The hipped roof is tiled, the brick fabric is rendered (now painted white), and the windows metal framed. The porches are semi-circular, with sections of glass bricks and double wrought iron gates at their entry. The large wrought iron lettering mounted on the render above each entry originally read 'HEALTH', the other 'CENTRE' but has been replaced with the words: 'ALTON GALLERY'. A Rotary logo is located at the top part of the chimney. The building is owned by the Campaspe Shire Council and is still in community use as a gallery.

    Echuca - Moama Family History Group Inc. - Last Updated 2 September, 2006

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