UFS Dispensaries was formed in 1880 with the first dispensary opening in 1881. The first dispensary operated from 84 Armstrong Street South with Mr Thomas Treloar appointed as Dispenser. The dispensary moved to the corner of Dana and Armstrong Streets (current Doepel, Lilley and Taylor building) before in 1902 building their own premises in Dana Street (next door to the Ballarat Club). The dispensary remained there until 1952 when it was relocated to the present site at 717 Sturt Street.

In 1957 a branch dispensary opened at 40 Main Road and was relocated to Bridge Street in 1976. The dispensary in Howitt Street, Wendouree opened in July 1973 and a fourth dispensary opened in Sebastopol in 1980. Almost eight years later in 1987, the Buninyong Dispensary was opened. This was followed by the Victoria Street Dispensary, in 1991.

Today, the organisation operates 19 pharmacies, with pharmacies located in Ballarat (two in Sturt Street, two in Doveton Street, one in Bridge Mall and Victoria Street), Buninyong, Delacombe (2008), Sebastopol, Wendouree, Bacchus Marsh (1999), Bacchus Marsh Village (2018), Mt Clear (2004), Beaufort (2004), Ballan (2004), Melton Central (2005), Melton South (2007), two pharmacies in Gisborne (2017). UFS also owns and operates the Peace & Quiet Day Spa (2004) in Ballarat. Cherub Gifts was owned and operated by UFS Dispensaries from 1996 – 2019.

UFS Dispensaries operated the UFS Medical Institute from 1919 to 1939. In 2008, UFS Medical was established with the first centre opening above the refurbished Bridge Mall pharmacy at Level 1, 40 Bridge Mall. In 2009 the Gillies Street Medical Clinic and Sturt Street West General Practice joined UFS Medical at 452 Gillies Street and 1008A Sturt Street.

UFS Medical opened a new purpose-built Medical centre located in Doveton Street North, Ballarat, (Gillies Street Medical Centre’s new location) on Tuesday 14 June 2011. Doveton Street UFS Medical is now home to 15 GPs, 13 practice nurses, on-site pathology and allied health professionals including physiotherapists, podiatrists, an exercise physiologist, a dietitian and a diabetes educator. A dedicated occupational health service, WorkHealth, also operates out of the Doveton Street practice. UFS Medical also operates medical centres at 4 Windermere Street, central Ballarat and at new purpose-built premises at 37 Albert Street, Sebastopol. Plans for a  fourth purpose-built UFS Medical practice in the rapidly expanding Ballarat suburb of Lucas are well underway, with this new centre expected to open in early 2025.

UFS Medical is contracted by the State Government to operate all 20 Supercare Nursing services across Victoria. This nursing service is available from 6pm to 10pm each evening in Supercare Pharmacies, providing treatment for minor injuries and ailments.

As part of the government’s Priority Primary Care Centre (PPCC) initiative, UFS Medical is contracted to operate the Ballarat PPCC, providing urgent medical care when it’s not an emergency. This service operates in the same building as the Windermere Street UFS Medical centre, and is open from 10am to 10pm every day of the year.

UFS Dispensaries also has a central office facility for administration staff. The administration team was historically based at the back of 717 Sturt Street and above 719 Sturt Street, but new premises were constructed in 2003 at 206 Armstrong Street Nth.

The full story of the history of UFS Dispensaries is shown in timeline format at the entrance to the Bridge Mall pharmacy.

Melbourne University has published an interesting paper on the history of friendly societies in Australia here

The Treloar’s Story

When UFS was formed in 1880 there was but one employee of the organisation. Mr Thomas Reid Treloar was just 28 years old when he was engaged as the Dispenser for the new UFS Dispensary in Ballarat.

UFS’ first dispenser was born in Coburg in 1852 and had been apprentice to leading Melbourne chemist Mr Joseph Jelfs. Thomas Treloar was an experienced dispenser before arriving in Ballarat and had already begun exploring a keen interest in health science, including further study in biology with a particular focus on microscopy.

Treloar commenced work at the first UFS Dispensary located at 84 Armstrong St Sth for a salary of £3 per week or £156 per annum. As the sole employee, Treloar was required to work extremely long hours – 9.00am to 9.00pm weekdays with the exception of Friday afternoons and the dispensary was also open on Sundays.

Treloar’s management of the dispensary ensured his workload increased rapidly and in 1881 he asked the Committee for the assistance of “a lad” to which they agreed and employed an Assistant, Mr Towl.

Treloar was an ambitious man and he resigned in 1883 to open up his own chemist shop at 259 Sturt St Ballarat (former Towl’s Pharmacy). At the conclusion of his career, Treloar was prominently regarded within the medical profession as a pioneer in the treatment of various diseases including cancer and lupus through the development of x-ray technology.

Treloar married Miss Jane Devine who shared his passion for the stage. He was a popular amateur actor and formed the Ballarat Dramatic Society of which he was President.

Mr Thomas Reid Treloar was a visionary health professional, with a passion for theatre and the gentleman who was engaged to first build the business we know today as UFS Dispensaries.

Thomas Reid Treloar (1852-1904)