2 January 2023

Riverina Rewind: Doctors honoured in bronze

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Bronze plaque

A bronze plaque memorialises two of Wagga’s pioneering doctors, Martin and Weedon. Photo: Museum of the Riverina.

Have you ever noticed the bronze and marble memorial hanging at the end of the hallway in the Museum of the Riverina’s Historic Council Chambers site?

Doctors Martin and Weedon were two of Wagga’s most extraordinary medical practitioners and in 1949 Victorian sculptor Victor Greenhalgh was commissioned by the people of Wagga to create a plaque that would memorialise these two great men.

Walter Wallace Martin and Stephen Hertford Weedon were born months apart in 1887 and became brothers-in-law after Dr Martin married Beth Weedon in 1912.

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Walter Martin (1888-1947) was born in Ballarat but settled in Wagga in 1912 when he took up the post of honorary medical officer at Wagga Base Hospital.

He also began a private practice at 53 Gurwood Street, Wagga. He was a very tall man, standing over six feet, with pale blue eyes. He was a general practitioner and a surgeon with a special interest in gynaecology, and a pioneer in the field of pelvic surgery.

Especially popular with his patients, he had charisma and charm and seemed to radiate vitality and hopefulness. Women were known to clean their houses and prepare especially before a visit from Dr Martin, and children were named in his honour.

Walter had three children of his own – Sheila, Helen and Stephen. Sheila won the title of Miss Australia in 1937.

Dr Martin died after a relatively short illness at just 59. On his passing, he was described as not only an exceptional doctor but as one of Wagga’s most outstanding citizens.

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Stephen Weedon (1887-1965) was born in Queensland, and followed Walter to Wagga in 1913 after standing as his groomsman at his wedding.

During World War I he served with the Australian Army Medical Corps, and spent time at a general hospital in France where he became experienced in the areas of X-ray and pathology. He also became proficient in the treatment of fractures, especially those of the femur, and joint wounds.

Stephen was also a very tall man and walked with a stoop. He was popularly known as ‘Old Weary Weedon’.

He had three children – Roslyn, David and Elizabeth.

In 1947 he retired to a property in Bowral, and prior to departing Wagga, a group of about 150 citizens met at the Council Chambers to farewell him.

Mayor Les Barrand told the group that Dr Weedon had become “world-renowned” for his medical skill, but that the community was also losing one of its “greatest citizens and friends”.

Make sure to look for this piece of art when you next call in!

Photo and information supplied by Michelle Maddison, curator of the Museum of the Riverina.

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