Meercroft Hospital opened as a convalescent home in Devonport in 1925. It was run by the Devonport Municipality until 1947, and then by the government. The work of the Hospital included maternity services from which adoptions are likely to have taken place. In 1958, Meercroft Hospital merged with the Mersey General Hospital.
In 1920, Mr Arthur Munnew bequeathed his entire estate to the Devonport Municipality so that they could open a hospital or convalescent home. The estate consisted of a homestead and 19 acres situated near the Mersey Bluff at Devonport. Munnew died in 1923. Two years later, the Municipality opened Meercroft as a convalescent home. Over time this evolved into a general hospital that included maternity beds.
In September 1947, the Municipality made an agreement with the state government that, in return for handing over the Meercroft Hospital, it would build a new one on a different site. The 1947 Meercroft Hospital Agreement Act confirmed this arrangement. A couple of years later, an amendment to the Act enabled the Minister of Health to appoint a board to run the Meercroft Hospital and so it became a District Hospital. However, the government did not start building a new hospital right away.
In 1950, the Burnie Advocate reported that, according to a Public Works Committee hearing, Devonport needed a 60 bed hospital at once with provision for 120 beds in the near future. Twenty-five of those beds were for maternity. Births at the Meercroft had tripled between 1946 and 1949, mostly because Devonport was the population centre for the area. The Meercroft Hospital only had 15 beds and many mothers were turned away or sent home too soon.
In 1958 Meercroft Hospital merged with Devon Hospital to form the Mersey General Hospital in Latrobe. The maternity beds remained at the old Meercroft Hospital. Five years later it closed and a new maternity hospital, part of the Mersey General Hospital Group, opened at the junction of Steele Street and Don Road.
1925 - 1958 Meercroft Hospital
1958 - 1995 Mersey General Hospital
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Devonport Hospital needs placed before the P.W. Committee', Advocate (Burnie), 10 February 1950, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article69206652; Wettenhall, RL, A Guide to Tasmanian Government Administration, Platypus Publications, Hobart, 1968, 206 pp; Wilson, John R, A century of caring: Latrobe's Hospital 1887-1987: an illustrated history of the Devon Cottage Hospital, the Devon Public Hospital and the Mersey General Hospital in northern Tasmania, Graduate Nurses' Association Centennial Celebrations Committee, Mersey General Hospital, Latrobe, 1988, 306 pp.
Prepared by: Caroline Evans
Created: 7 May 2014, Last modified: 8 May 2014