"Hannah ‘Grannie’ Wattsis one of Melton’s mostcelebrated and cherished pioneers. Born in Ireland
in 1831, Hannah immigrated to Australia with her husband George Byrns in 1854. Moving to Melton, they built a wattle and daub hut home where they lived with their four children until George was tragically killed in 1860. Unusually for the time, Hannah purchased land in her own name in the Melton township in 1863. Later that same year she married William Watts and together they moved to Toolern Vale and built a bluestone and mud brick home.
It is believed that while travelling to Australia, Hannah assisted the ship surgeon and demonstrated a natural aptitude for the tasks assigned to her. When she was living in Melton she assisted other women in an unofficial capacity as neighbourhood midwife, while also working on her farm and raising her six children. By 1887, however, her reputation as a midwife had grown to such an extent that she was able to establish her own practice.
William Watts died in 1874, but Hannah remained in Toolern Vale for the next twenty years.
In 1894, she moved into the Melton township and built Lynch Cottage on the corner of Yuille and
Sherwin streets, near Toolern Vale Creek. There she assisted in the births of hundreds of Melton
residents, as well as the laying out of the deceased. Meticulous in her record keeping, Hannah
Watts recorded the details of a total of 442 births between the years 1886 and 1921. Lynch Cottage was officially registered as a private hospital in 1911 and Hannah was listed in the Victorian Register of Midwives in 1917. Hannah Watts died on 21 October 1921, a few months after she assisted with the delivery of her final baby, Thomas Watts Minns. She was 90 years old. Hannah was buried in Melton Cemetery and mourned by the Melton community. Her obituary in the Gisborne Gazette is a testament to how beloved she was by the people she served:
... while in the absence of medical aid residents looked to Grannie as their doctor,
philosopher and friend. Hundreds, in fact we might say thousands of people held the
deceased in veneration ... A woman of great energy and determination combined with
superior intelligence, Grannie conquered difficulties that would have made many falter...
Today Grannie Watts is remembered by her descendants and by many locals in the City of Melton.
Created in 1985, Hannah Watts Park honours Grannie Watts’ pioneering work for the health and
wellbeing of hundreds of Meltonians. Not only is the park a fitting tribute to the memory of an
outstanding citizen, it also continues to provide today’s residents and visitors with a space to
walk, relax, gather and celebrate in Melton" .
Tom Minns holding Debra Wain, first hospital baby to be born In Melton since 1921. Article featured in the Herald. Mother Rhonda Wain is featured in the photo too.