In 1920 Mr Arthur Munnew bequeathed to the Warden, Councillors and Electors of Devonport all his Estate, which comprised 19 acres 29 perches in and around Meercroft Homestead, for the purpose of using Meercroft, as a convalescent home or hospital for the treatment and relief of sick persons or invalids.
Mr Munnew died in 1923. In 1936, 3 acres 2 roods 31 perches were acquired by the Crown for a sports ground and is now a portion of the Devonport oval. On the first day of September 1947 the Council entered into an agreement with the Minister for Health, whereby it was agreed that in consideration of the Council transferring to the Minister certain lands known as Meercroft together with the buildings erected thereon the Minister would cause a modern Public Hospital to be erected at Devonport West (what we now call the old Maternity Hospital & Medical Centre at the junction of Steele Street and the Don Road). and whereas that agreement was approved by the “Meercroft Hospital Agreement Act 1947”
Since then the Council has become possessed (on a 99 year lease basis) of 1 acre 3 roods 9 perches bounded by Fenton Street and James Street, by the sports ground and by land formally North Street from the 1st November, 1949. Then 8 acres 16 perches bounded by Eugene, Gunn, North and William Streets, from the 23rd June 1954. This is land where the hockey grounds are now situated. This left the homestead block of 5 acres 2 roods 13 perches, the present site of Meercroft Home for the Aged for the benefit of the elderly. On the 15th September, 1955 a committee was set up for the purpose of raising funds for the establishment of a home for the aged at “Meercroft”. On the 26th June, 1958 an Act of State Parliament to incorporate the Meercroft Home for the Aged and to make provision for its’ administration with the Constitution and By-laws was enacted. On the 3rd July, 1958 a further Act authorised the State Treasurer to apply the sum of 8,674.3s.3d; standing to the credit of the Arthur Munnew Trust Fund for the purposes connected with the establishment, erection or maintenance of a Home for the Aged at Devonport.
The original homestead at Meercroft was built in 1889, and since 1925 it had been used as a Convalescent Home and a Maternity Hospital. On July 2nd Meercroft Home for the Aged Board. Tenders for the removal of the old wooden home were called within (3) months, to make way for a 28 bed nursing home opened in 1965. All that is left today is a shed (thought to have been a mortuary) situated near the carports, and the stone wall along the northern boundary. In 1991 the mystery was uncovered of why one of the pillars that supported the main gate was missing.
It would appear that in 1949 when the Home was a Maternity Hospital a Nursing Sister and a Doctor decided the post would have to go because of the number of near misses involving frantic husbands rushing expectant wives to Hospital. It was removed and taken to the tip. The Meercroft Board replaced this post with a replica in 1991 at a cost of $2,927.00.
THE MEERCROFT FACILITY
Meercroft is an autonomous, not for profit organisation and the Constitution of the Home provides that the Home is run by a Board of Governance.
Meercroft is approximately two kilometres from the Devonport Post Office and is situated in Clements Street, overlooking Bass Strait.
Throughout its history Meercroft has been dependent on contributions from various service organisations and donations and bequests from private people. The Federal and State Governments have made large contributions in both Capital and Recurrent costs and Meercroft has been actively supported by its Auxiliary and it’s Staff Fundraising Committee. It therefore represents the whole stratum of the Community.
Our complex being the first Home of the Aged in Devonport opened in 1959 with 8 cottages.
There have been numerous extensions and renovations over the years culminating in a major redevelopment of the facility in 2001/2002 and a further redevelopment of the kitchen in 2007. In 2010/11, 9 x 2 bedroom independent living units were built on the corner of Clements and North Streets. A new wing consisting of 18 beds was constructed in 2011/12 and opened for its first residents in June 2012.