Home - Chermside & District History

Phipps, Winifred (Matron)


Valmar Ross wrote a series of essays on her childhood in Chermside in the 1930s. One essay, The Lady With The Lamp, was, for a long time, our only source of information on Matron (Matie) Phipps.

The Essays are on this website at A Century of Memories - 1930s Vignetts Val Ross

Kerry Kilpatrick, a Great Grandson of Matron Phipps, after reading the above essay contacted the CDHS and offered us more information. Over a period of a month he supplied a great deal of material, both text and photographic.

Trove - NLA Newspapers were a great source of information covering virtually most of Matron Phipps, long and varied, life. She was very much in the public eye.

CDHS Archives supplied background material on her life and death in Chermside.

Winifred Lydia Huston

The road route from Rockhampton A on the coast via Blackwater and Emerald to Clermont B to the West. (Map courtesy of Google)

Winifred Lydia Huston was born in Redfern, Sydney NSW on the 1 Jun 1867.

Her parents were ROBERT HUSTON born 1842 in Londonderry, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, died on 17 Mar 1882 in Clermont, Queensland, Australia. Married BESSIE MCCANN on 02 Feb 1865 in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (St Stephens Cathedral Brisbane). Bessie was born in 1843 in Ballyagran, Limerick, Ireland , died on 07 Sep 1906 in Clermont, Queensland, Australia.

In the early 1870's the family moved to Clermont in north Queensland which is located 380km West from Rockhampton, a drive of about 4hrs 5min drive today on the A4 but in the 1870s it was considerably longer: probably by coach. The other major centre is Mackay which is 282km to the North East.

The family moved to Queensland possibly attracted by the gold mining. Robert Huston was thought to be in the transport business and, later in a hotel. (Possibly why Winifred went into the hotel in Townsville after the death of her husband John Kilpatrick in 1898)

Education and Nurse Training

Winifred probably went to school in Cleremont in the early 1870s when the family moved there. Gold had been discovered in the 1860s so there would have been sufficient population to warrant a school being provided by the Colonial Government.

I am not sure what form her nurse training would have taken in the 1880s, but she may have had to go to Rockhampton or Mackay. However she had two qualifications:

A.T.N.A. Australasian Trained Nurses' Association (est. 1899) (Courtesy The Free Dictionary)

Q.S.R. (Queensland Register)

First Husband and First of Six Sons

MARRIAGES. Brisbane Courier 29-1-1885 p.1
McDONALD-HUSTON. - On the 8th January,
at St Paul's Church. Clermont, by the Rev. W. E. Hillier, John, eldest son of the late Thomas Kilpatrick and Mrs. A. B. McDonald, Grosvenor Downs Station, to Winifred Lydia, eldest daughter of the late Robt. Huston, Clermont.
Queenslander 2nd Oct 1886 p.521

KILPATRICK-On the 7th September, at the residence of her mother, Clermont, the wife of John Kilpatrick, of Grosvenor Downs Station, (birth) of son.

Grosvenor Downs Station in near Clermont.

Death of John Kilpatrick

Probate Granted Morning Bulletin Rockhampton 16-9-1898 p. 5. Probate has to be granted before the estate can be transferred to the inheritor(s).

Morning Bulletin Rockhampton Friday 5th August 1898 p.6 (From the Clermont Correspondent)
Another townsman has this week joined the great majority. Early on Monday morning Mr. John Kilpatrick, who was widely known and held in the highest esteem throughout the district, died from congestion of the lungs. He had only lately taken over Mr. W. Huston's business and was in the prime of life, being only thirty eight years of age.

This photo of the younger Winifred may have been taken about this time. She would have been about 31 years old.

Brisbane Courier Monday 26-9-1898 p.7

John Kilpatrick, Clermont, general agent, to Winifred Lydia Kilpatrick, Clermont, widow; realty and personality, 1997

Central District
Name of Claimant:Winifred Lydia Kilpatrick, of the same place, widow of deceased
Description and Situation of Land.-Allotments 4 and 5 of section 2, town of Clermont.

Estate Claimed to be Transmitted.-Fee simple,
Particulars of Will or Otherwise.-Will dated 31st July, 1898.
Date within which Caveat may be lodged-27th January, 1899

Would this be the property in Sirus St Clermont in the photo?

Railway Hotel North Rockhampton

Morning Bulletin Rockhampton Thursday 5-7-1900 p.3

Patrick Kelly applied for the transfer of the licence of the Railway Hotel North Rockhampton, to Winifred Lydia Kilpatrick. Mr. R. R. Jones (Messes. Rees and Sydney -Jones) appeared in support of the application, which was granted.

Morning Bulletin Rockhampton Tuesday 26-7-1900 p.1
Hotel transferred from Kelly to Kilpatrick

Leave of Absence

Morn Bull Rocky 18-8-1900 p. 5
Winifred granted three weeks leave of absence and the Railway Hotel to be managed by Mr. James Murphy in her absence.

Transfer of Hotel to Murphy

Morn Bull Rocky 23-8-1900 p. 1
Licence transferred to Murphy

War Service and Migration to South Africa

Three of Winifred's siblings served in the Boer War and then settled permanently in South Africa while a fourth member simply migrated permanently.

Lance Corporal William John Huston left Brisbane as a member of 'D' Company, 3rd Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse. He returned to Australia and was discharged but then returned to South Africa, married and died in 1935.

Robert Earnest Huston served in the Queensland Imperial Bushmen Contingent rising to the rank of Sergeant. After discharge he returned to South Africa where he settled permanently. He never married and enlisted in the South African army in the Great War serving in France and rising to the rank of Acting Major. He died in 1948.

BEATRICE HUSTON went to nurse in the Boer War She married WILLIAM BLACK in South Africa. She died in 1920 in South Africa.

GRACE EDITH HUSTON migrated to South Africa where she married and remained till she died on 11 Nov 1962 in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.

Small Debts Court

It would appear that Winifred had made a part payment for something and possibly forgot the rest. Understandable, considering she had six sons to raise on her own.

Morning Bulletin Rockhampton 23-5-1902 p.5
Small Debts Court appearance of Winifred seems to indicate that she was still living in the local area of Clermont.

Private Hospital at Clermont

This notice appeared in the Morning Bulletin Rockhampton 7-12-1911 p.8 which indicates that Winifred was still living in the area. She may have been working in other hospitals.

The eldest boy, John b.1886, would have been about 25 years old.

This house in Sirus Street, Clermont is the house in which she set up her private hospital after the death of her husband.

The house looks like it started as a Queenslander with verandas all round. At some time the side verandas were closed in increase the accommodation.

Winfred at Manjimup in W. A.

Location of Manjimup WA 6258 - 292 km south of Perth - a 3hour 10minute drive today on National Route 1. It was just about as far away from Clermont as one could get without leaving Australia. (Courtesy of Google Earth)

The Queenslander 24 Jun 1916 p.6

Women's Department the Week in Brisbane and Elsewhere.

Nurse W. L. Kilpatrick (widow of the late John Kilpatrick, of Grosvenor Downs station), who is on a visit to Queensland, where her five sons have enlisted, has recently been employed by the Western Australian Government as a district nurse. She had much to tell us of a subject in which all Queensland women are interested. She was stationed at Manjimup in the timber mills district of the Karri and Jarrah timber lands. Her district was about 20 miles in circuit, and through rough, uneven country that tested the stamina and endurance of the trained woman.

Frequently she had to traverse six or seven miles to a patient over tracks that neither by vehicle nor horseback could the journey be covered; her practice was both maternity and general nursing. She explained that accidents in the mills were constantly, occurring, and the district, nurse stopped the bleeding, and otherwise administered first aid remedies until the services of a doctor were obtained. The frequent illnesses of children in this isolated part kept her busy and there were as many as six or seven maternity cases a month.

In reply to the question of organisation and management Mrs Kilpatrick said that in some places the government subsidised the nurse and the settlers, farmers and mill hands pay a proportion of her salary. In some very poor and scattered districts the Government sub subsidised Nurse Kilpatrick and she was allowed to charge for patients according to their means.

There was this proviso however that no patient was to be refused attention, so that no need be without care. At one station she had two nurses under her control. One was always at the nursing headquarters, and two were out visiting. Nurse Kilpatrick is an A.T.N.A., and formerly only they were employed by the Government but owing to the great drain on the district nursing staff for the war they are utilising the services of trainees, and those with some nursing experience, under a registered nurse.

Nurse Kilpatrick only left Western Australia to bid farewell to her boys and wish them Godspeed in their work of saving the Empire.

Winifred would have been about 49 years old so she must have been a very fit woman.

Australasian Trained Nurses' Association (est. 1899) (Courtesy The Free Dictionary)

Winifred and Her Soldier Sons

The quality of the photo is not the best due to the 'snow drop' effect in the original. Kerry Kilpatrick wrote - We believe the people are Sons of John & Winifred Kilpatrick WW1, Top left Ernest Aubrey Cyril (Cyril) (my grandfather), Top Right Daniel Clark, Bottom left James Eric, Bottom right Alexander Robert (Bert), Front William John.

Nurse Kilpatrick only left Western Australia to bid farewell to her boys and wish them Godspeed in their work of saving the Empire. (From the above article.)

This patriotic sentiment reflects the type of encouragement the government was using at the time to get more men to enlist; there was no conscription in the Great War.

It is a somber photo and Winifred is keeping 'a stiff upper lip'. But then photos were a serious business in those days.

Winifred may have been grateful that at least one son had not enlisted.

Private Hospital Ballina NSW

Soon after farewelling her sons Winifred took charge of St. Roch's Private Hospital in Ballina. Maybe she had had enough of traversing the forests of Western Australia and wnated to settle down in the one place.

Winifred looks like a no nonsense person who could run any hospital, private or public. From the description given below by Val Ross she could easily take command in an emergency; of course that is what is expected of a Matron.

Winifred Marries Alfred Phipps

Queenslander Sat. 26-7-1917 p.28
A UNIQUE WEDDING GROUP. The bride is Mrs. W. L. Phipps (formerly Mrs. Kilpatrick, matron of the Ballina Private Hospital), mother of five soldier sons, and the "bridegroom" is Mr. A. E. Phipps, who has three sons in khaki.

The wedding took place in St. John's Church of England (now Anglican) Cathedral in Brisbane.

The wedding description was originally printed in the Brisbane Daily Mail and was reproduced in the Morning Bulletin Rockhampton 16-4-1917 p.9.

Alfred Ernest Phipps was a Man of Means

The two newspaper clippings below give some idea of the business interests of Alfred Phipps.

The first item is from the Clarence and Richmond Examiner 21-12-1907 p. 4 where Alfred is the licencee of the Crown Hotel in Wardell which is near Ballina on the Richmond River in northern NSW. The hotel is no longer there.

This second item is from the Sydney Morning Herald 26-2-1915 p.1 where Alfred is a partner in a Cordial Manufacturing business in Ballina.

Another Wedding - All in the Family

The following item appeared in the Brisbane Courier of Sat 12-4-1919 p.15

The engagement is announced of Corporal Cyril Kilpatrick (youngest son of the late Mr. John Kilpatrick of Grosvenor Downs station, Queensland, and Matron W. L,. Phipps, of Ballina, N.S.W.) and Nurse Elsie Phipps (adopted daughter of Alderman A. E. Phipps and Matron Phipps, of Ballina).

This must have been an unusual but happy event in the history of the family

Decorations for Soldier Sons

This item appeared in the Northern Star, Lismore 20-4-1918 p. 4

Not only had these sons of Winifred and Alfred survived the war but they were decorated for bravery in action.

Kerry Kilpatrick adds that Sgt Major William John Kilpatrick, was awarded the Military Medal later to become known as the Military Cross, for gallantry and devotion to duty when under fire in battle.

Move to Chermside

This photo could have been taken around about the time they came to Chermside. It seems to fit in with the type of lifestyle indicated by the news items.

Bris Courier Fri. 26-6-1931
Matron W. L. Phipps has arrived in Brisbane, after spending three months' holidays with her sons, Messrs. Kilpatrick, Lydia Downs station, N.W. Queensland.

This announcement could possibly have marked the time Winifred and Alfred moved to Chermside.

Bris Courier Sat.3-6-1933 p.20
At the home of Matron W. L. Phipps (Victor Drive, Chermside) an evening was given on Thursday to celebrate her birthday. About 30 young people were present. Singing and games were enjoyed.

This item makes it clear they were living in Chermside.

Courier Mail Wed. 3-1-1934 p.14
To celebrate the New Year a social evening was given by Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Phipps at their home, Monteagle, Chermside, recently, when 30 guests were entertained with musical Items, dancing, and games.

This item gives the name of their house in Victor Drive (now Kidston Terrace) but not the number.

There are several more items relating to Winifred while living at Victor Drive, Chermside, mostly about going on holidays, celebrating at home, visiting and social activities.

This house in Victor Drive was the Smith Family home and was built in 1927 while this photo was taken in about 1943. It has been replaced by a block of units. Winifred lived two houses away. The black colour is probably due to painting the weatherboards with linseed oil to prevent cracking. At a later stage paint of varying colours would have been used.

The Queenslander above was a spacious house with wide verandas and a large back yard, ideal for social parties and entertainment or use as a unofficial hospital.

As a child, Mavis Rye (Nee Smith) knew Matron Phipps, who lived two houses along the street. Mavis said that Matron Phipps moved into her house in 1927 the year before the Smiths moved into this house. Also Winifred wanted to use the building as a Nursing Home but, for some reason it did not eventuate.

Mavis goes on to say that Phipps had an open front veranda which one had to cross to get to the big front door which was surrounded by coloured glass. The steps were similar but wider.

Judging from the small news items appearing in the social section of the newspapers the Phipps played an active part in the social life of the local community. It was a time when much of the entertainment for people was that which they made for themselves. It was the time when Chermside was still a village.

The following story written by Val Ross gives some idea of the role 'Mattie' played in the local community.

The Lady with the Lamp

THE LADY AND THE LAMP - Valma Ross (nee Fullwood) lived near Winifred's home and recounts this incident from her childhood.

Our first neighbors were elderly, and were like grandparents to my brother and me.

Mrs. Phipps had retired as a hospital matron, but she had not retired from the attitude that was part of a matron's armour. To reinforce her control, she continued to claim the title of MATRON.

Her home was an amazing display of her prolific artistic talents. Curtains were made from thousands of tiny pink shells sewn by hand in long strips and mounted upon a rod. They were very unusual; all her cushions had drawings upon them. Sketched in Indian Ink were kookaburras, koalas, peacocks and so on. Embroidery and all manner of home crafts adorned her home.

Mattie Phipps was well known throughout Chermside. During the 193O's as it was often the choice for the women to give birth at home, Mattie Phipps often acted as mid-wife. She personally knew all her children and had an enduring interest concerning their progress throughout life. Mothers would often bring their baby sons to her home, and the doctor in attendance would perform a ritual snip. It was not unusual to hear the cry of infants emanating from her home.

My brother and myself had a very strong bond with Mattie and Mr. Phipps, they were like grandparents us. Both of us were well aware that we had received special treatment from them, and we felt deep affection toward them. I knew I could always seek comfort or friendship From Mattie.

Little did I realize there would come a time when my brother would be screaming as loudly as any child that had entered through her doors?

My father had owned a motorbike, with a carbide type lamp. He stored the bike under the house where my brother and self often played. One day, while we played, the bike fell over and carbide went into my brother's eyes. No time to waste, my father dashed with my brother into Mattie's home; my Mother rushed in also, carrying my brother's high chair. I was banished from the scene.

After some time I ventured up Mattie's back stairs, there was water flowing from her kitchen door as if someone had turned on a hose. I entered the kitchen, the floor was covered in about half an inch of water, and I saw my brother tied firmly in the highchair while Mattie continued to furiously syringe his eyes with water. This was not the time to be house proud.

In spite of the mishap, my brother grew up with good vision, I wonder if he would have been so fortunate if it wasn't for a follower of THE LADY WITH THE LAMP.

According to Val Ross Winifred was not operating a Private Hospital when they were neighbours. On the other hand if she was acting as a midwife she may have continued working part time.

Death of Cyril Kilpatrick

Notice in the Courier Mail, Brisbane 20-5-1937

This must have been a great shock as Cyril seemed to be in good health and the future seemed assured.

It mentions that he was survived by four brothers; since there were originally six it seems that one other brother was deceased.

The Brisbane City Council graves finder shows that:
Ernest Aubury Cyril Kilpatrick Buried 29-4-1937
Age 40 years rests in the same grave as

Thomas Roy Kilpatrick Buried 31-10-1918 Age 32 years.

Thomas Roy was Winifred's youngest son, a drover He was injured droving near Surat when a bull charged his horse, throwing him against a tree and timber pierced his head. He died three weeks later in the Mater on 30 Oct 1918.

It appeares that Winifred and Alfred were definitely living in the Garden Settlement by this date

Living at the Garden Settlement

Alfred, Winifred and Beatrice look as if they are standing outside the Sancturay or Chapel in the Garden Settlement. If this photo can be dated it would help in fixing their arrival in the settlement.

Just when Winifred and Alfred moved into what is today Wheller Gardens and Wheller on the Park is unknown. However the photo attached seems to have been taken in the then Garden Settlement judging by the building in the background .

The following notice was published in the
Courier Mail Sat. 30-8-1947 p.10

WINIFRED LYDIA PHIPPS late of Garden Settlement, Chermside, Brisbane, wife of Alfred Ernest Phipps, who died on the Twentieth day of June, 1947, at the Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane.

Burial: Winifred is buried in South Brisbane Cemetery, Dutton Park, her grave is noted in the BCC Graves Search as:

Winifred L. Phipps, 20-6-1947 Age: 82 years.

She is buried in the same grave as:

Maud English, 22-5-1902 Age: Unknown.

There is a Memorium Notice in the Brisbane Courier 20-5-1903 p.4 which reads:

ENGLISH -In loving memory of Maude English,
who died at Yeronga 20th May, 1902.
" Till the day dawns and the shadows flee away." A. S. C.

Maud English (nee Huston) was the 4th Child in the family of 8 children - first child born in Clermont - she was about 31years of age.

Death of Alfred

Alfred Phipps' funeral notice in the Courier Mail 26-8-1954 p.18

The Queensland Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages states:

1954 B3691 Alfred Ernest Phipps (Death) (Father)Paul (Mother) Jane Hallett

Since Alfred was cremated his ashes would have been given to his next of kin for safekeeping.