Tresillian Vaucluse was established around 1935 or 1936 in Greycliffe House, which is within Nielsen Park, Vaucluse. It was a mothercraft home run by Tresillian. It cared for mothers with babies and for babies who needed nursing. By the 1960s it looked after around 110 mothers and 177 babies a year. Unmarried mothers worked at Tresillian Vaucluse as domestics while they waited for the birth of their babies. In the late 1960s Tresillian Vaucluse cared for babies who were waiting to be adopted, taking around 220 a year. It closed in 1968.
Tresillian Vaucluse is sometimes confused with the older Vaucluse House, which is located nearby. Greycliffe House is a Gothic-style building with steep gables, which once had many glassed-in verandahs, whereas Vaucluse House has turrets, and never had glassed in verandahs.
Greycliffe was owned by the New South Wales Government and had been used as the Lady Edeline Hospital for Sick Children since 1914. In 1936, at the invitation of the government, the Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies took over the management of the Lady Edeline Hospital (Greycliffe House), and renamed it Tresillian Vaucluse. (Some sources suggest this occurred in 1939). It became a Mothercraft Home.
Tresillian Vaucluse operated as a nursing centre, Mothercraft Training Home and provided residential care for new mothers. In 1939 Margaret Harper House was built at the back of the property, and used to house nurses.
In the 1960s, Tresillian Vaucluse housed 10 mothers with babies and eight unaccompanied babies at any given time, and looked after approximately 110 mothers and 177 babies during the year.
From the 1950s to the 1970s a number of unmarried pregnant women were sent to Tresillian Centres by social workers from Sydney hospitals. The women were paid as domestic help, and worked around the homes. At the time social workers considered this was a better option than working in private households or commercial laundries. The nurses did keep an eye on these women, but did not treat them. The women were not patients, but staff. The only records kept of their time in the home were the pay books, which have not survived.
The domestic staff of Tresillian Vaucluse lived in an area of the house that had been the stables, above the nursery. It was entered from the rear of the house, adjacent to a 20 foot high sandstone wall, through the boiler room. The nursery itself had huge windows, which have since been removed. The babies' cots were wheeled out on to a sandstone platform so babies could receive sunshine.
In July 1967, according to the organisation's Annual Report, Tresillian agreed to care for babies awaiting adoption, at the request of the Hospitals Commission. In that year 224 babies were admitted to Tresillian Homes.
Tresillian withdrew from Greycliffe in 1968. According to the Annual Report, the number of young families in the area was declining and the organisation needed funds for its other homes in the more heavily populated areas of the north and west. However, Tresillian did not own Greycliffe, whereas it owned the other properties.
In 1968 the New South Wales Government resumed control of Greycliffe House. Since 1974 it has been managed by Parks and Wildlife.
Sources used to compile this entry: Annual Report [Tresillian Mothercraft Homes], The Society: Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies, Sydney, 1920-. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn1655465; About Tresillian: The Tresillian Story, Tresillian Family Care Centres, 2000-2012, https://www.tresillian.org.au/about-us; Paul Davies Pty Ltd, Conservation Management Plan, Nielsen Park - Sydney Harbour National Park, The Office of Environment and Heritage NSW, Sydney, 11 March 2013, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/parks/conservation/NielsenParkSHCMP.pdf; Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies, Tresillian mothercraft homes: fifty year jubilee, 1920-1970, O'Connor, Graham, Petersham, 1970, 14 pp; Tresillian home, Greycliffe [Image], Date: August 1935; Wellfare, Dian, Breaches of Adoption Regulations, Laws and Crimes: Inhumane Hospital Practices, Origins Inc, 1995, http://lilyfair1.tripod.com/law/id16.html; Wellfare, Dian, NSW Parliamentary Inquiry Into Adoption Practices Personal Submission, Origins Inc, 1995, http://www.originsnsw.com/nswinquiry2/id14.html; Interview with Miss Elaine Carr, former staff member from Tresillian Vaucluse and Matron at Tresillian Petersham, 27 September 2012.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 27 September 2012, Last modified: 30 August 2013