In 1953 Henry (Hank) Barber Horsfall set up Echuca’s first optometry practice when he rented modest rooms in a butcher shop in High Street. In those early years, Hank would examine his patients by day and return in the evenings to grind and dispense their spectacles.
Some years later, Henry and his wife Clare purchased premises in the main street of Echuca at 138 Hare Street, providing him with two consulting rooms and a small workshop. Also around this time, Hank expanded his services to Kyabram, consulting from a back room of the local jeweler, one day per month.
As the Echuca business grew, Hank employed the services of brothers-in-law Max Davie and Kevin Hone as self-trained optical mechanics. They were to remain valuable fixtures of the practice for many years.
Soon the Kyabram practice was also growing and weekly consultations were provided in rooms in Rodney Chambers Arcade, before further growth facilitated a move to new premises in the main street of Kyabram.
After 35 years in practice and forming a reputation as a highly respected member of the Echuca community, Hank Horsfall transitioned to retirement in the late 1980s. Bryan Fuller and long-standing employee David Wilson then began a partnership together. With some early initiatives to renovate the Hare Street Practice and open the practice on Saturday mornings, further growth ensued.
In 2000, Richard and Suzy Lenne joined the practice when they moved back to Victoria from Townsville and in 2004 Richard became a third partner. In 2002 the opportunity for larger premises arose in Echuca and the practice relocated to its current site at 134 Hare Street, previously a hardware store. The new location allowed for three consulting rooms, a dedicated visual field room and space for a retinal camera and other equipment purchased in the following years. These new modern premises and updated clinical facilities further advanced the business from a professional and retail viewpoint.
By 2006 the Kyabram practice had also outgrown its rooms and was relocated to its current site at 154 Allan Street. With spacious upmarket amenities and extra consulting rooms, the people of Kyabram now had a daily optometric service available.
Over the years, the practice has participated in different outreach programs including vision screenings at Cummeragunja Reserve and Njernda Medical Centre. Our Nathalia optometric service was established in 2013 with a room in the Nathalia hospital equipped for eye examinations. This service is offered monthly by arrangement with the hospital.
With advances in lens technology and ordering systems, spectacle dispensing is now mostly managed offsite at specialised laboratories.
From its humble beginnings Horsfalls Optometrists has now grown to five partner optometrists (Bryan Fuller, David Wilson, Richard Lenne, Andrew Knight and Adam Gloury), along with ten dedicated support staff, to become one of the largest optometry practices in rural Victoria. Throughout, the practice has retained the name of its founder, in respect of the legacy of his years of optometric and community service. Despite the passing of Henry Horsfall in 2012 at the age of 90, Horsfalls Optometrists continues to be synonymous with providing professional eye care to the people of Northern Victoria.