Matron Tyers, Dr David Cade and staff in the front step of the New Hospital courtesy ‘Glimpses of the Past- Mont Park’ Iliya Bircanin and Alex Short
Matron Jane Tyers worked at Mont Park for about 20 years before and during WWII.
Jane’s early life was marred by tragedies
Jane (Jeannie) Fawthrop Bennett was born in 1877 in Portland Victoria, and died in 1960 in Heidelberg Victoria.
Jane was the youngest of 10 children. Their mother (Emily Mary Jane GREEN) died at age 36 in 1879, when Jane was only two years old and her oldest brother William was 19 years old. Her parents had been married since 1858 when Emily was a teenager. Jane’s parents had both emigrated independently from the UK in the 1850s and settled in Portland where her father Thomas was a tailor.
Jane’s father Thomas died 10 years after his wife, in 1889 at age 57 years, when Jane and several of the children were still teenagers. At this stage her eldest sister Florence was 25 years old and her oldest brother William was 29, and they possibly helped look after the family. Florence eventually married in 1898 when she was 34 years old and had two children.
Jane married Charles James TYERS (junior) on June 18th 1903 in Portland. She was then 26 years old. Their wedding is described in the Portland newspaper of the time, with a full choral service as Jane had been an active member of the St Stephen’s Choir. Her sister Adelaide (b. 1876) was bridesmaid and her brother William gave her away. Charles and Jane Tyers lived in Jerilderie NSW after they were married. He was working as an accountant and also interested in music being involved with brass bands in Ararat and Jerilderie.
Charles died soon after their marriage, in October 1904. He had been born in 1879 and was only 25 years old. He died after a bout of bronchitis and pleurisy. Jane gave birth to their daughter Venora May in 1905 in Jerilderie after his death. Jane appears to have moved to Melbourne to earn her living, and Venora was raised by the Tyers and Bennett families in Portland (see later). Jane did nursing training at the Austin Hospital for three years, gaining General, Surgical and Mental nursing certificates by 1909. She then worked there as a relieving Matron in the male and female hospital wards with 70 nursing staff for another 6 years.
At the age of 38 in 1915, being widowed, she enlisted as a nurse with the Australian forces during World War One, as did her sister-in-law Lilian Rose Tyers (b. 1883, also a nurse), and two of her brothers-in-law (Roden Dalrymple Tyers b. 1886, who was a professional soldier and Wilfred Angus Tyers b. 1893, who was a postal worker). Her daughter Venora would have then been about 10 years old then and was living in Portland.
Jane’s husband Charles Tyers junior had been the oldest of 7 children and his mother died shortly before him in 1904. She was 45 years old and the remaining 6 children then ranged in age from 24 years (Marguerite May Tyers) to the youngest of Hugh Alex Tyers who was only 10 years old.
Jane’s next of kin on her enlistment in 1915 was her sister Adelaide Victoria Tyers (b. 1876 nee Bennett) from Portland. It appears that Adelaide had married Jane’s widowed father-in-law (Charles James Tyers senior) in 1905 in Portland (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/10010299 ) Adelaide would have been 21 and he was 54 years old. Adelaide and Charles had one son Kenneth Clarke Tyers born in 1911 in Ararat, and before WWI they moved back to Adelaide’s hometown of Portland. Charles senior died in 1930. They seem to have cared for Jane’s daughter Venora and Charles senior’s children together in Ararat and Portland, until the children were adults. Venora is listed as passing a piano exam in Portland in 1915, Grade VI Primary (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/1580411) , and also performing in a concert in Portland Hall, when she was about 10 years old.
Jane’s Military Service
On enlistment in 1915 Jane Tyers was described as 5 ft 3 inches tall and weighing 140 lbs (63 kg), with brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.
Jane left Melbourne for WWI duty in August 1915 and served first in Heliopolis Egypt, and then Suez, returning to Australia on Transport Duty in June 1916. There is a photograph of Mrs Jane Tyers in a small group of nurses departing again from Adelaide to Salonika in June 1917 https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/mettle-and-steel-aans-salonika
She continued to nurse in the UK in 1919 after the War ended, studying at the Royal Sanitary Institute.
Jane Tyers in Mental Health employment for 20 years
On her return to Australia Jane Tyers was appointed acting Matron at Sunbury Mental Hospital for 1920 and 1921, and then in December 1921 she became Matron at Mont Park. In the register of Nurses in 1926 she was living at the Mont Park hospital site. There are two photographs of her in staff groups at Mont Park in 1926 and 1932 (in the book ‘Glimpses of the Past’).
In 1927 Jane’s daughter Venora May (“Arlie”) Tyers was married to Charles Herbert Allchin (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/rendition/nla.news-article146842784.3.html?followup=8fc9d5225dc87036624d6e7c0fab7fae&print=true ) in Melbourne. Interestingly Venora was given away by Dr David D. Cade from Mont Park, Matron Tyers’ hospital colleague. Venora’s husband Charles Allchin (b. 1894) served in WWI and WWII. Before his enlistment in 1915 he was working at Sunbury ‘Hospital for Insane’ as a clerk. Venora (“Arlie”) and Charles lived initially at 53 Waterdale Road Ivanhoe, and they had a daughter, who was born on 17thOctober 1931. This was when her mother, Matron Jane Tyers was living and working at Mont Park. Charles and Venora were living at Beechworth ‘Mental Hospital’ when he enlisted again in 1942. (Venora died in Mornington aged 62 in 1967 and Charles died in 1981 at Parkdale, aged 87.)
Jane retired from Mont Park in March 1942 after 20 years of service, and enjoyed a celebration and presentation from the staff as reported in The Argus newspaper of Friday March 20 1942. See https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/8238277 . She was then aged 65 years.
After she retired, she was living at the Queen Elizabeth Aged Care Centre in Ballarat by 1946, where she listed her next-of-kin as Miss V.M. Tyers of Portland, her daughter Venora. Jane did some traveling between Portland and Ballarat visiting her family. Her military records show that she lost one of her Service Medals on one of these trips.
Jane Tyers died in June 1960 in Heidelberg Victoria after an eventful life.
She had worked at the Austin Hospital for about 10 years, in overseas military duties in WWI for about 5 years, and then at Mont Park Mental Hospital for 20 years. She was aged 83 years when she died. Hopefully she had enjoyed a peaceful and happy last 18 years of retirement with the company of her daughter and granddaughter.
A photograph of Jane Tyers and other nurses in WWI https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/mettle-and-steel-aans-salonika
Bircanin, Iliya and Short, Alex (1995) Glimpses of the past: Mont Park, Larundel, Plenty, the Authors, Melbourne
Jane Tyers finishes work at Mont Park https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/8238277