THE “BIG SIX” MEDICAL PRACTICE TAMWORTH

The History of Tallowwood Health, 1892 – 2023

 

FORWARD

 

In the reception area of Barton Lane Practice’s modern rooms are two boards, which list the names of all the doctors who have ever been partners in the practice.

These doctors are the main subjects of this historical overview. Many other doctors, too numerous to mention, have also worked at the practice and have been an integral part of its history.

I would like to thank all those who have helped collate this history of Barton Lane Practice:

Bek Hooley, Kylie Barnes, Dr Daniel Rankmore, Dr David Lockart, Dr Stephen Howle, Dr David Holford, Dr John Fisher, Dr William “Bill” Meagher, Judy Lobsey 

Melinda Gill
2022

INTRODUCTION

 

The history of the Barton Lane Practice originates in 1892, with the move by Dr Austin Nathaniel Cooper into the building at 454 Peel Street Tamworth, on the eastern corner of White Street. From this time, a number of doctors continued in the practice from the same building, known locally at first as “454” then as the “Big Five” (during the 1950s) and then the “Big Six” (this was reference to the number of doctors).

 The practice then moved into purpose-built premises at 131 Marius Street in 1985, thus becoming the Marius Street Medical Centre.

 In 1998, the doctors moved from the Marius Street building to a medical centre, built at the corner of Johnston Street and Barton Lane, renaming the surgery, Barton Lane Practice.

THE PEEL STREET SURGERY

 

Austin Nathaniel Cooper was born in Dublin Ireland to Caroline and Austin Cooper in 1853. In 1882, he was granted license to practice by the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin as well as from the King and Queen’s College of Physicians in Ireland.

In 1885, he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. It was believed that he could speak French, Italian, German and Spanish by the time he arrived in Tamworth. Possibly arriving in Australia 1890 – 91, Dr Cooper was registered as a medical officer on the 12 August 1891.

In October of the same year, owing to the death of Dr Patrick White, the position of medical officer to the various friendly societies (these societies provided vital financial and social support “welfare” to many Australian communities) became vacant. There were five applicants for the post, which was subsequently given to Dr Cooper, a new arrival.

On the 7 October 1892, Austin Cooper married Mary Kate Thom, the daughter of William Thom, licensee of the Tamworth Hotel, located on the western corner of Peel and White Streets (now ANZ Bank).

By November, after changing premises several times, Dr Cooper moved into the recently vacated building originally owned by the Bank of NSW (now occupied by Jaycar Electronics), which was located on the eastern corner of Peel & White Streets, opposite to the Tamworth Hotel. Dr Cooper leased the premises from the bank. 

Original premises Bank of NSW

In 1893, Dr Cooper was served with possibly Tamworth’s first medical malpractice lawsuit. A Mr Cuneen served Dr Cooper with a writ claiming very heavy damages for the unskilful treatment of his young son’s fractured arm. After the arm had been set by Dr Cooper, it had become stiff and almost useless. Mr Cuneen sued Dr Cooper for £2000 in damages, however, after a two-year court battle, £200 damages was awarded to Mr Cuneen.

Due to the expense of the damages awarded, Dr Cooper subsequently had to file for bankruptcy in 1896, and decided to leave Tamworth. On his departure from Tamworth, Dr Cooper was presented with a handsome dressing case by the local Oddfellow Lodge.

The practice and surgery were then acquired and leased by Dr John Smith Wilson. Dr Wilson gained his qualifications through the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and received Membership to the Royal College of Surgeons in England in 1873. He was appointed as a medical officer on the 16 June 1884.

Dr Wilson took over the practice in 1896 and continued the association with the friendly societies until he resigned from the position in 1897, just before his departure from Tamworth.

The practice and surgery then passed to Dr Hugh Armstrong on the 21 September 1898. Dr Armstrong gained his qualifications through the Royal College of Physicians in London in 1885, followed by a Fellowship to the Royal College of Surgeons in England in 1888. He was appointed as a medical officer on the 11 March 1896 and became a qualified eye specialist.

As well as housing a surgery, the building at the corner of Peel and White Streets also contained a residence, which at one point Dr Armstrong also leased.

On the 31 October 1904, Dr Arthur Wellesley Nankervis, brother to storekeeper G.A.M. Nankervis, took over Dr Armstrong’s practice and occupied the consulting rooms, at the corner of Peel and White Streets. Dr Nankervis obtained his qualifications in Medicine and Chirurgery/Surgery (MBChB) at Edinburgh in 1899. He was then registered as a medical officer on the 10 August 1904.

Peel Street Surgery during the 1910 flood

In September 1909, Dr Herbert Leopold Ashton Shorter took over the practice from Dr Nankervis. Dr Shorter obtained his qualifications in Medicine in 1899. He was registered as a medical practitioner on the 8 March 1899 and gained a degree in Surgery in 1906.

Dr Thomas Sholto Douglas arrived in Tamworth and acquired the practice from Dr Shorter in 1913. Dr Douglas was born in Greenock Scotland, on the 12 May 1888, the son of John C. and Catherine Douglas.

Dr T.S. Douglas graduated as a Doctor of Medicine from Glasgow in 1909 and gained his qualifications from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons at Edinburgh in 1910. He was then registered as a medical practitioner on the 10 July 1912.

On the 8 February 1916, Dr T.S. Douglas joined the 2nd Stationary Hospital in Egypt. In May of the same year, he married Marion Piper, daughter of Tamworth’s 16th Mayor, Charles Piper. After an appendix operation overseas, he was listed as an invalid and returned to Tamworth. His father, Dr John C. Douglas looked after the practice as locum tenens during his absence. 

Dr Douglas at surgery 1914

WHITE STREET SURGERY

 

On the 13 November 1923, Dr T.S. Douglas bought the parcel of land and building containing the practice and surgery at the corner of Peel and White Streets for £1,550. Before this, the land and building had been purchased by Walcha grazier, William Fletcher from the Bank of NSW in 1903 and continued to be leased by the doctors.

 

Deed between William Fletcher and T.S. Douglas 13 November 1923

Lot 8 – Site of the medical practice on deed 13 November 1923

During the time the bank had occupied it, the main entrance to the building had been from Peel Street. It is possible that after it was purchased by Dr T.S. Douglas that the Peel Street entrance was closed off and one was made facing White Street.

 

In 1925, Dr Keith Allender Piper joined the practice at the corner of Peel and White Streets, alongside his brother-in-law, Dr T.S. Douglas. Dr Piper had gained his qualifications in Medicine and Chirurgery/Surgery (MBChB) at the University of Sydney in 1921 and was subsequently registered as a medical practitioner on the 14 September 1921.

 

Drainage plans. 1928

It was said that Dr Douglas was the first to successfully treat a burst appendix and during the 1930s performed what was thought to have been Tamworth’s first successful mastoid operation.

 

Dr T.S. Douglas and Dr Piper jointly installed an X-ray unit, an innovation at the time, assisted by the fact that the building, being the former Bank of NSW, had a vault, which could be used as a dark room. On the 4 November 1931, Dr T.S. Douglas sold the practice to Dr Piper for £1,550.

Although operating privately, Dr Piper accepted the position of Honorary Hospital Radiologist and, until his retirement, he had been responsible for the maintenance of the unit.

Dr George Bentham Morris joined the practice in 1933. Dr Morris gained his qualification in Medicine and Chirurgery/Surgery (MBChB) at the University of Sydney in 1925. He was then registered as a medical practitioner on the 27 April 1925.

He had originally bought the residence at 11 White Street, before joining the surgery, one door down, where Dr Douglas and Dr Piper had their practice on the corner.

On Dr Piper’s retirement from the practice, he sold the land and building back to Dr T.S. Douglas and Dr Morris, as joint partners, on the 13 January 1937 for £1,550.

Dr Charles William Sutherland Dun joined the practice in 1939. Dr Dun gained his qualifications in Medicine and Chirurgery/Surgery (MBChB) at the University of Sydney in 1923 and was subsequently registered on the 30 April 1923. Dr Dun only stayed in Tamworth for three years before moving to Sydney.

During World War 2, it became government policy that a number of local doctors had to stay at home and not enlist so they could look after the local population for the duration of the war.

All doctors currently working in town signed a statement to say they would pool all the money earnt in town with all the enlisted doctors’ salaries and distribute to each family in equal amounts until the war ended.

 

In 1941, Dr George Barrington Dance joined the practice at the corner of Peel and White Streets with Dr T.S. Douglas and Dr Morris. Dr Dance obtained his qualifications in Medicine and Surgery in 1933 at the University of Sydney and was registered as a medical practitioner on the 25 January 1933.

Four years later, Dr Dance bought a 1/3 share in the partnership of Dr T.S. Douglas and Dr Morris for £666 13s 4d. During his time at the practice, Dr Dance used the dining room of the original residence as his surgery.

Dr Don Creswell Howle joined the practice on the corner, at the end of World War 2, in 1945. Dr D.C. Howle gained a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Sydney. He used the old lounge room of the original residence as his surgery.

Dr D.C. Howle served as the house doctor for “Moonbria House” for girls and was a member of the Tamworth Homes for the Aged Committee.

In 1946, Dr T.S. Douglas left the practice, which he had been a part of for more than 30 years, and moved to Sydney, first to Manly, then Vaucluse and finally, to Darling Point.

Dr Stephen Richardson joined the practice with Dr Morris, Dr Dance and Dr D.C. Howle in 1948. Dr Richardson obtained his Bachelor qualifications in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Sydney in 1946. As well as being a general practitioner, Dr Richardson was also a gynaecologist and obstetrician.

 

Morris, Dance & Howle, 1945

Partnership Agreement – Morris, Dance & Howle – June 8 1945

Dr T.S. Douglas instituted charges for consultations long before it became the usual practice. At the appropriate moment he would say, “that will be half a guinea please and I have the change of a pound!”.

 

When Dr Richardson joined the practice, known locally as “454”, half the building was still a residence, and he resided there for the first few months of his practice.

On the 22 December 1950, Dr T.S. Douglas sold his share of the practice to Dr Morris, Dr Dance, Dr D.C. Howle and Dr Richardson for £2,500.

On the 27 November 1951, Dr Morris, Dr Dance, Dr D.C. Howle and Dr Richardson transferred the ownership of the practice and surgery to Medical Premises Pty Ltd, a company formed and run by the doctors.

In late 1951, Dr Morris left the practice and handed over his rooms to Dr Malcolm Robert Stanley, a highly qualified surgeon. Dr Stanley obtained his qualifications in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Sydney in 1944. Dr Morris and his wife lived at 454 Peel Street and remained in Tamworth for several years.

After serving as medical officer at the Tamworth Base Hospital in the early 1950s, Dr David Gwynne Hammond joined the practice in 1954, alongside, Dr Dance, Dr D.C. Howle, Dr Richardson and Dr Stanley.

In the late 1950s, the kitchen of the residence was turned into the nurses’ room, and the practice was one of the earliest (in Tamworth and possibly Australia) to employ practice nurses. The first nurse to join the White Street Practice was Eunice ‘Euni’ John in 1956.

Eunice was running the female ward at Tamworth Base Hospital when Dr D.C. Howle asked her if she would run the Dressing station at the practice, as well as attend to immunisations and assisting with Suturing. Eunice worked for the practice until she was married and was unable to continue (women were not allowed to be nurses once married).

Dr Stanley then left the practice in 1958, with, Dr Bryant Lewis Bedville taking his place at the practice. Dr Bedville gained his qualifications in Medicine and Surgery in Sydney. At this time the practice was known locally as the “Big Five”.

Eunice’s position was taken over by Phyllis Mary Blair. Phyllis became a registered nurse in 1945 and joined the practice in 1959 and worked for many years at the doctors’ surgery.

 

In 1960, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as we know it began. It was a combination of the existing pensioner and general schemes, an expanded range of drugs for the general public, and the introduction of a patient contribution of 5 shillings.

 

Dr Stephen Creswell Howle joined the practice on the corner in 1975. Dr S.C. Howle gained his qualifications in Medicine and Surgery in Sydney.

When Dr S.C. Howle first joined, all doctors had to be not only partners in the firm (buy a share of the building), but also pay for furnishings and equipment, and hand over an amount for “good will”.

It was also expected that the doctors would be members of the AMA (Australian Medical Association), an active medico-political organisation of long standing and esteem as well as have membership of the Tamworth Club, in White Street, which was the watering hole for many local professionals.

At the beginning of 1975, 454 Peel Street, took on its first medical trainee, with Dr S.C. Howle the second. In the previous year, the Family Medicine Programme had begun, which gave practices and the trainees a curriculum to follow during their training.

Though the curriculum was very vague, doctors were able to design their own teaching programme using the senior GPs in the practice to teach them as well as other specialists in town.

Barton Lane Practice has continued to take college trainees without a break since 1975. Quite a number of the current GPs in Tamworth worked in BLP at times throughout their training. 

The practice had two regular operating sessions at the Tamworth Base Hospital, where most of the doctors undertook a variety of surgical procedures, or occasionally anaesthetics. Anaesthetics were provided by all four of the non – surgical partners, with an enviable safety record over many years. There were also urgent cases, mostly done in the evenings, when regular operating lists were finished.

The “Big Six” doctors had a regular number of patients in the wards at Tamworth Base Hospital; Paediatric, Maternity, General Medicine, Surgery, Orthopaedics, Urology, Ear Nose and Throat and Gynaecology. Rounds would be made each morning of patients of the practice, before starting at the surgery clinic around 10am. There were at least two qualified nurses, and a huge office staff of receptionists, accounting personnel and typists at the practice.

Urgent cases were seen the same day, and the surgery did not shut its doors in the evening until the last patients were seen.

Home visits were undertaken in the early days, with most doctors having 1-2 to do at the end of each day, and then quite a number each night as the doctors shared the after-hours roster.

In 1975, formal organised patient records (RACGP medical record) were started in Australia, with the “Big Six” taking this process on in 1977.

In 1977, Medibank (the forerunner of Medicare) began, allowing the direct billing by the government for 85% of the scheduled fee for GP services. This was designed to allow those with poor incomes to have better access to general practices. (The current direct billing by the government is now about 30% of the fee).

Dr D.C. Howle retired from his position as Honorary Physician at the Tamworth Base Hospital in 1977-78 and was offered a consultancy position as “Honorary Consultant Physician” to the hospital. In 1984, Dr D.C. Howle retired from the “Big Six”, leaving his son, Dr S.C. Howle to continue on in his place.

In 1978, Dr Ian McColl joined the “Big Six” practice. Dr McColl gained his qualifications in Medicine and was registered as a medical officer on the 4 July 1977. Dr McColl stayed at the practice for seven years before leaving in 1984.

During Dr Fisher’s time at the ‘Big Six’, the practice enabled and encouraged him to work in Papua New Guinea on 2 occasions, as a surgeon, together with obtaining further training in Urology at Guy’s Hospital, London.

The practice’s operating list gradually declined as more external specialised surgeons took on patients, to the point where the majority of surgical procedures were borne by Dr Fisher as the only surgeon in the practice.

In 1982, Dr Fisher left the practice after 15 years and launched out on his own as a specialist in general and urological surgery. He practiced from various consulting rooms in town with support from the “Big Six” until his retirement in 2007.

At the “Big Six” practice there was a switchboard with a direct connection to each doctor’s home. Each night at the close of surgery, the phone line would be diverted to whichever doctor was on call. This meant that spouses/partners had to stay at home all night and on weekends to take messages if the doctor was out on a call or at the hospital.  These were the days before mobile phones which eventually liberated the on-call doctors’ families.

Even with the arrival of mobile phones, it took the senior doctors several years to be convinced that the practice should have a dedicated mobile for the on-call doctors.

All partners in the practice shared equally in the profits made by the business. This was based on the principle that one doctor may make more money doing an operation, or seeing young patients with straightforward problems, while the next doctor might spend the day dealing with very complex medical issues that needed much more time and paid less.

This worked well for 40 to 50 years when all doctors were working full-time and equally shared the after-hours and weekend roster. But over time more specialists arrived in town, so less of the practice’s work involved inpatient treatment at the hospital, and more doctors wanted to work part-time. This made partnerships less important and less common as most GPs became contractors to the owners of the practice.

Dr William Patrick Meagher joined the practice in Peel Street and became a partner in 1985. Dr Meagher gained his qualifications in Medicine and Surgery in Sydney in 1981 and was registered as a medical practitioner on the 4 March 1981. 

 

Valuation of premises at 454 Peel Street, 1974

Valuation of 454 Peel Street, 1974

Dr Stephen Creswell Howle joined the practice on the corner in 1975. Dr S.C. Howle gained his qualifications in Medicine and Surgery in Sydney.

When Dr S.C. Howle first joined, all doctors had to be not only partners in the firm (buy a share of the building), but also pay for furnishings and equipment, and hand over an amount for “good will”.

It was also expected that the doctors would be members of the AMA (Australian Medical Association), an active medico-political organisation of long standing and esteem as well as have membership of the Tamworth Club, in White Street, which was the watering hole for many local professionals.

At the beginning of 1975, 454 Peel Street, took on its first medical trainee, with Dr S.C. Howle the second. In the previous year, the Family Medicine Programme had begun, which gave practices and the trainees a curriculum to follow during their training.

Though the curriculum was very vague, doctors were able to design their own teaching programme using the senior GPs in the practice to teach them as well as other specialists in town.

Barton Lane Practice has continued to take college trainees without a break since 1975. Quite a number of the current GPs in Tamworth worked in BLP at times throughout their training. 

 

The practice had two regular operating sessions at the Tamworth Base Hospital, where most of the doctors undertook a variety of surgical procedures, or occasionally anaesthetics. Anaesthetics were provided by all four of the non – surgical partners, with an enviable safety record over many years. There were also urgent cases, mostly done in the evenings, when regular operating lists were finished.

The “Big Six” doctors had a regular number of patients in the wards at Tamworth Base Hospital; Paediatric, Maternity, General Medicine, Surgery, Orthopaedics, Urology, Ear Nose and Throat and Gynaecology. Rounds would be made each morning of patients of the practice, before starting at the surgery clinic around 10am. There were at least two qualified nurses, and a huge office staff of receptionists, accounting personnel and typists at the practice.

Urgent cases were seen the same day, and the surgery did not shut its doors in the evening until the last patients were seen.

Home visits were undertaken in the early days, with most doctors having 1-2 to do at the end of each day, and then quite a number each night as the doctors shared the after-hours roster.

In 1975, formal organised patient records (RACGP medical record) were started in Australia, with the “Big Six” taking this process on in 1977.

In 1977, Medibank (the forerunner of Medicare) began, allowing the direct billing by the government for 85% of the scheduled fee for GP services. This was designed to allow those with poor incomes to have better access to general practices. (The current direct billing by the government is now about 30% of the fee).

 

Dr D.C. Howle retired from his position as Honorary Physician at the Tamworth Base Hospital in 1977-78 and was offered a consultancy position as “Honorary Consultant Physician” to the hospital. In 1984, Dr D.C. Howle retired from the “Big Six”, leaving his son, Dr S.C. Howle to continue on in his place.

In 1978, Dr Ian McColl joined the “Big Six” practice. Dr McColl gained his qualifications in Medicine and was registered as a medical officer on the 4 July 1977. Dr McColl stayed at the practice for seven years before leaving in 1984.

 

Certificate of Incorporation of Proprietary Company. March 23, 1977

During Dr Fisher’s time at the ‘Big Six’, the practice enabled and encouraged him to work in Papua New Guinea on 2 occasions, as a surgeon, together with obtaining further training in Urology at Guy’s Hospital, London.

The practice’s operating list gradually declined as more external specialised surgeons took on patients, to the point where the majority of surgical procedures were borne by Dr Fisher as the only surgeon in the practice.

In 1982, Dr Fisher left the practice after 15 years and launched out on his own as a specialist in general and urological surgery. He practiced from various consulting rooms in town with support from the “Big Six” until his retirement in 2007.

At the “Big Six” practice there was a switchboard with a direct connection to each doctor’s home. Each night at the close of surgery, the phone line would be diverted to whichever doctor was on call. This meant that spouses/partners had to stay at home all night and on weekends to take messages if the doctor was out on a call or at the hospital.  These were the days before mobile phones which eventually liberated the on-call doctors’ families.

Even with the arrival of mobile phones, it took the senior doctors several years to be convinced that the practice should have a dedicated mobile for the on-call doctors.

All partners in the practice shared equally in the profits made by the business. This was based on the principle that one doctor may make more money doing an operation, or seeing young patients with straightforward problems, while the next doctor might spend the day dealing with very complex medical issues that needed much more time and paid less.

This worked well for 40 to 50 years when all doctors were working full-time and equally shared the after-hours and weekend roster. But over time more specialists arrived in town, so less of the practice’s work involved inpatient treatment at the hospital, and more doctors wanted to work part-time. This made partnerships less important and less common as most GPs became contractors to the owners of the practice.

Dr William Patrick Meagher joined the practice in Peel Street and became a partner in 1985. Dr Meagher gained his qualifications in Medicine and Surgery in Sydney in 1981 and was registered as a medical practitioner on the 4 March 1981. 

 

Dr. Bryant Bedville, Dr. Ian McColl, Dr. Don Howle, Dr. Wade King, Dr. Stephen Richardson, Dr. David Hammond, Dr. Stephen Howle. December 1985

454 Peel Street

454 Peel Street

Northern Daily Leader, August 9, 1985

The doctors’ building was sold to Andrew Richardson (2nd son of Dr Steve Richardson) in 1985 and was demolished to build the three-storey modern office block that stands on the corner today.

MARIUS STREET MEDICAL CENTRE

Marius Street Medical Centre

In 1985, Andrew Richardson built a new purpose-designed building at 131 Marius Street for the doctors to lease, which was seen at the time, as an efficient, spacious and great new practice.

In the same year, Dr Jane Margaret Marr became the first female doctor to join the practice, and in 1988, she also became the first female partner of the practice. Dr Marr stayed with the practice for six years, leaving in 1991.

 

 

Having a female doctor as a part of a practice was a new experience for many of the senior doctors. The practice would go on to see many female doctors come and go over the following 36 years. 

 

The ladies in reception, 1985

One of the consulting rooms, 1985

All the doctors at the practice delivered babies at the maternity unit of Tamworth Base Hospital and Tamara Private Hospital when it was providing obstetric services. Young doctors such as Dr King, Dr S.C. Howle, Dr McColl and Dr Meagher did not undertake Caesareans, but relied on back up from the more senior partners and then increasingly from specialist obstetricians.

Dr Douglas James Matthew Rutherford joined the partnership in 1986 and has been with the practice for thirty-five years. Dr Rutherford’s interests in the medical field include minor surgery, urology and palliative care. In 1987, Dr W.M. King left the practice at Marius Street after thirteen years. Dr Meagher stayed with the practice for four years before leaving in 1989 to work in Young.

Dr Bryant Bedville, Dr Bill Meagher, Dr Doug Rutherford, Dr Stephen Howle,
Dr Steven Richardson, Dr Wade King, 
& Dr David Hammond, 1987

In 1992, Dr Louis Gordon Lennox Trichard also joined the practice at Marius Street. Dr Trichard gained a Bachelor of Medicine and Chirurgery/Surgery (MBChB) at Cape Town, South Africa in 1967. He left in 1994 and has been working in Yamba.

After 20 years, Dr S.C. Howle finished his time of delivering babies, but others in the practice continued into the 21st century.

However, as the only GP practice in town still delivering babies, the doctors decided to discontinue and hand their patients over to the Tamworth Base Hospital obstetric clinic and private specialist obstetricians.

Dr John Lewis Butler Pearson became a partner of the practice at Marius Street in 1994. His interests in the medical field include Chronic Disease Management and performing vasectomies. In 1995, Dr Hammond left the practice after serving forty-one years.

Early 1998, Dr Christopher John Fay joined Marius Street Medical Centre and became a partner at the same time. Dr Fay gained his training in Medicine and Surgery through the University of NSW in 1992, followed by a Fellowship of the Royal College of GPs in 1997. His interests include men’s health, aged care and palliative care. 

 

Northern Daily Leader. March 3, 1998

After 10 years at 131 Marius Street, the size and design of the premises became increasingly outmoded and not a good use of floor space for the growing changes in the approach of modern general practices. The doctors had to find new space for the practice.

 

BARTON LANE PRACTICE

Tamwell Medical Centre

Dr Peter Anderson, a local Urologist, had built a medical office block (named Tamwell Medical Centre) across the road from the Tamworth Base Hospital, on the corner of Johnston Street and Barton Lane, opening the centre in 1990. The centre was designed to include a motel, café, pharmacy, pathology and later doctors.

 

The site of Tamwell Medical Centre was originally the location of the Tamworth Machine Brick Company which operated from the 1920s until the 1980s.

A large area was available on the ground floor for a doctors’ surgery and the Marius Street Medical Centre practice doctors then moved to their new location in July 1998, with the practice being renamed “Barton Lane Practice”.

 

Dr John Pearson, Dr David Holford, Dr Christopher Fay, Dr Stephen Howle
and Dr Douglas Rutherford at the Barton Lane Practice in 1998

Dr Daniel Robin Diebold joined the partnership in 1999. Dr Diebold gained his qualifications of a Bachelor of Medicine/Surgery at Sydney University in 1982. He was a general practitioner and had special interests in Diabetes and Chronic Disease Management.

In 2001, Dr Holford, with his wife and three children, left Tamworth, for a two-year stint working on the Mercy Ship “Anastasis” (providing free medical care to poorer nations). Barton Lane Practice supported Dr Holford in various ways during the time he was away, including financial assistance.

Dr Holford and his family were completely dependent on the kindness and generosity of friends and organisations as they engaged in this important overseas work.

In 2002, the North West Slopes Division of General Practice appointed a programs co-ordinator to help busy doctors pass on some of the load to nurses. This required education and training for wound management, immunisation, Diabetes, Heart and Asthma training for nurses.

Judy Lobsey and Marion Goodman were guest speakers at the first of two training days. This was the start of nurses in general practice obtaining accreditation for duties and patient care. At the same time the Australian Practice Nurse Association was formed, providing support and training to members.

At the end of 2003, Dr Holford and his family returned to Australia and the practice. From his time away, Dr Holford had developed an interest in Public Health and Tropical Medicine and commenced studying towards a Master’s degree in that area. During that time, he decided to move his family to Sweden and made the decision to resign from the partnership, leaving mid-2006.

In August 2005, Dr S.C. Howle as chair of the NW Slopes Division of General Practice, assisted in the establishment of Peel Health Care at 160-168 Bridge Street in an effort to address the chronic shortage of General Practitioners and allied health professionals within the Tamworth area. Dr Diebold left Barton Lane Practice in 2005 to work in this new practice.

In 2006, Marion Goodman started the Lifestyle Clinics. Dr Fay left in 2007, after spending nine years with the practice and joined the Belmore Street Surgery.

 In 2009, Barton Lane Practice began running a nurse and GP led clinic for people with diabetes mellitus. These clinics were developed by Dr Pearson and nurse Judy Lobsey. This clinic was innovative at a time when health education and disease management were primarily done by the GP. A number of clinics were established including Chronic Disease Clinics for Diabetes and Heart Disease.

The Nurse team increased to five part-time nurses, Judy, Marion, Jude Collier, Sue Ash and Tammy Hall. Besides Judy’s Diabetic Clinic and Marion’s Lifestyle Clinic, Jude Collier specialised in women health/pap smears, Tammy in Chronic Heart Disease. Sue Ash visited nursing homes to perform comprehensive medical assessments.

 

 

Diabetes Clinic launches

Barton Lane Practice was among the first in Tamworth to have a clinical nurse as a part of the team. This was the first time a nurse could treat clients for different conditions. 

Dr Holford, returned to Australia and the practice for a year in 2011-2012, as an assistant rather than a partner. Dr Holford completed his Master’s degree in Public Health and Tropical Medicine by distance education and returned to general practice in Sweden.

In 2013, Dr David Benjamin Lockart joined the Barton Lane Practice. Dr Lockart’s connections to the practice included a period of work experience with Dr Pearson during his high school years, then again for a term during his university degree.

Dr Daniel Gordon Rankmore joined Barton Lane Practice in 2015. Dr Rankmore is a specialist General Practitioner working both at the practice and at Gunnedah Hospital. His special interest includes child health, lifestyle medicine, and procedural medicine (emergency, anaesthetics, & skin cancer).

In 2015, Leanne Stehr joined the nursing team and started the Lung Clinics. After 28 years at the practice Marion Goodman retired in 2016. The most recent addition to the nursing team is Alison George.

Since 2016, Dr Lockart has spent part of his time training new GPs as a Medical Educator with GP Synergy. Since 2017, he has also been a member of the HNECC PHN Rural Clinical Council, and is the current Deputy Chair.

Dr Holford again returned to Australia in 2016 and worked at Barton Lane Practice for a month before deciding to settle in the Newcastle – Lake Macquarie area. Since the end of 2016, Dr Holford has worked in general practice in Toronto.

In 2016, Dr S.C. Howle left the partnership and worked for the practice before retiring in 2018, after forty-three years at the practice. He was the longest serving doctor at the practice and the only one to work at all three locations.

Doctors past and present gathered at Dr. Howle’s retirement. 2018.

As a joint decision, Dr Rutherford and Dr Pearson left the partnership in 2018 and became contracted doctors to the practice. In 2021, Dr Pearson retired after twenty-seven years at the practice and twenty-four years as a partner. On 31 December 2021, Judy Lobsey also retired after many years at the practice.

In 2018, Dr Lockart and Dr Rankmore took up responsibilities as part-owners and directors of the practice. This has continued the long history of the practice being owned and run by local General Practitioners, something that is now quite rare within General Practice.

 

Dr Daniel Rankmore, Kylie Barnes, Bek Hooley and Dr David Lockart, the Barton Lane Practice management team, 2021.

In 2023, the practice underwent a name change to Tallowwood Health. It continues to be run by the same owners and management team.