Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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See Also Kindergarten
See Also Campbell House
See Also Early Learning Centre

Interpretative Sign: First Preparatory School, 2015.

Interpretative Sign: First Preparatory School, 2015.

Establishment of a Preparatory School in its own dedicated buildings was one of the first acts of the new Geelong College Principal, Rev Francis Rolland (1878-1965).

The Preparatory School was originally built at the Senior School campus on the site of the ‘Chinaman’s Paddock’ and opened in 1921. There had been junior students at the School since its earliest years but no dedicated independent campus. In the 1870 Annual Report, George Morrison, Principal, stated his intention of introducing an elementary class and the Prospectus of that year lists William McVean as being in charge of the 'Junior Department'. It is uncertain as to what age these students were but the images of students from 1871 and 1878 appear to show students of Preparatory School age.

In the 1890s, a defined Junior School was established, though it probably operated out of the same buildings as for Senior students and it is now unknown which aspects were separated. In the Annual Report of 1901 Norman Morrison, Principal, commented that 'The Junior College is a prosperous and eminently useful complement to the School. Boys are admitted between the ages of eight and twelve, the object of the Junior School being to secure a continuity of method from the early stages to the close of a boy's career.'

The building of the new Preparatory school facing Aphrasia St was begun in 1920 and the foundation stone laid in a ceremony by Charles Shannon (c1841-1922), Chairman of the School Council, with other dignitaries including members of the College Council, as well as from the Old Collegian’s Association. Amongst these were Sir John Monash and Dr Norman McArthur. The inscription on the stone was 'This stone was laid by Charles Shannon, Esq., December 14, 1920.' Mr Shannon then placed a small time capsule under the foundation stone. It contained a 1920 prospectus of the College, a copy of the then, latest 'Pegasus' , a copy of the aims of the Preparatory School, a copy of the 'Geelong Advertiser' as well as other papers. Mr Shannon suggested that these be found ‘hundreds of years hence’ when Geelong would have ‘perhaps a population of 100,000’ . After two terms in St David’s Church Hall the School moved into its own facilities in the block of red brick buildings. These buildings on the Senior School Campus now house activities for design. The construction was carried out by Pescott and Sons at a tendered price of £3,686 to a design by former Collegian, Frederick Purnell (1868-1953). The old Preparatory School was discontinued on the Aphrasia St site at the end of 1959 when the new Preparatory School in Aberdeen St was established.

From 1945 onwards, Mr Louis M Whyte, an Old Collegian, sold land overlooking the Barwon to the School on very generous terms. The first of these transfers was an area of about 15 acres in January, 1945 for £500 per acre followed by a purchase in late 1946 at a cost of £500 per acre of a further 19.2 acres eastwards to Minerva Rd together with a gift of 15 acres westwards of river front land. The land then comprised a block of about 49 acres bounded by Minerva Rd on the east, Aberdeen St on the north, and the Barwon River on the west. It was decided later that this should be the site for a self-contained Preparatory School on Aberdeen Street.

On 30 April 1959 the Governor General, Sir William Slim laid the foundation stone for the new Preparatory School. A series of remarkable efforts by parents, friends and Old Collegians raised funds for the project, with the result that the new school opened in 1960. In quick succession, 2 further stages were built. Stage III including an Assembly Room, and Arts and Science Centre was opened in 1962. Stage II, which was to include boarding facilities, was approved by Council in November, 1961 but was impeded due to contract and architectural delays. It was not opened until 11 February, 1964. In 1970 Mr and Mrs C S Laidlaw gave the swimming pool in memory of their son, Stuart. The Ian Watson Gymnasium was completed and opened in 1981, a performing arts centre, including a music school, and the Robertson Hall was opened in 1990. The Arts Centre was opened at the beginning of 1995. The current Preparatory School has a distinctive contemporary style. Over the years there have been many modifications, extensions and renovations. In 2003, a new Multimedia Activities Centre for Year 6 was constructed, additional tennis courts provided, and a new car park and billabong completed. A new Grounds and Maintenance Facility was also built.

The Preparatory School during the 1990s and 2000s was divided into several parts: Early Learning Centre; Campbell House, and the Middle School (Years 4 to 8) under a single Preparatory School administration. From 2013, the Campus was formally divided into a Junior School and Middle School.

First Day at the new Preparatory School, 1960.

First Day at the new Preparatory School, 1960.

Preparatory School Captains:

1921 Lister, E.
1922 Macpherson, P.
1924 Greeves, R. G.
1928 Shannon, D.
1929 Shannon, D.
1931 Collyer, N.

Heads of the Preparatory School:

1921-1927 Nicolson, K.
1928-1930 Campbell, J. H.
1931-1962 Campbell, L. J.
1963-1976 Watson, I. R.
1977-1986 Macmillan, I. W.
1987-1997 Hughes, P. J.
1998-2006 Lawson, C.
2007-2013 Carroll, J.

Heads of the Middle School:

2014-current Russell, L.

Heads of the Junior School:

2014-2016 Dineen, C.

Sources: Pegasus December 1920 pp 6-7; Pegasus May 1921 p33; Pegasus June 1947 p39; Les Hatton, Ad Astra June 198; Ad Astra June 2003 p7.
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