Walter and Eliza Hall
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is the oldest medical research institute in Australia.
It was established by the Walter and Eliza Hall Trust which was created in 1912 out of the fortune made by Walter Hall.

Walter and Eliza Hall

In 1852 Walter Russell Hall arrived in Australia from England, seeking his fortune in the Victorian goldfields. Despite an inauspicious start he went on to become a very successful and wealthy businessman. In addition to pastoral holdings and mining interests, he became an agent for Cobb & Co, the horse-drawn coach line of Australian history. A consortium of seven, including Walter, invested in the firm in 1861 and turned it into a great success.

Hall married Melbourne-born Eliza Rowdon Kirk in 1874.


Walter-Hall.jpg  Eliza-Hall.jpg

Portraits of Walter Hall and Eliza Rowdon Hall by Frederick McCubbin

Founding the institute

Walter and Eliza Hall were active philanthropists. When Walter died in 1911 Eliza used a portion of his legacy to establish the million-pound charitable Trust, the largest charitable gift in Australian history up to that time.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Trust was to be used for the relief of poverty, especially among women and children, the advancement of education, and the general benefit of the community.

The Trust allocated an annual sum of £2,500 to the establishment and ongoing work of a medical research institute.

New institute and director

In April 1915, the Melbourne Hospital agreed to provide a home for the new institute in its recently rebuilt quarters in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. Dr Gordon Clunes McKay Mathison was selected to lead the nascent institute, but was tragically killed in World War I in May 1915.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital Lonsdale Street campus
Our first site, the Melbourne Hospital's
Lonsdale Street campus

Through the endowment from The Walter and Eliza Hall Trust, a third floor and a basement with animal houses were added to the new Pathological Block of the Hospital.

The new research premises were completed in 1916 and named the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Research in Pathology and Medicine. Sir Harry Brookes Allen was appointed Honorary Director but permanent appointments were put on hold until the end of World War I.