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M . L . C

BURWOOD

IN

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M.L.C. is ninety years old! In ten years' time it will be celebrating its hundredth birthday. Doubtless someone will then be called upon to write an official history of the school. But by then none of those who remember the early years will be surviving. Already many of the memories of the first decades are lost forever. There will be ample material available in the form of Excelsior reports, minutes of meetings, etc., but if the human side, the daily life of the girls and their activities are to be recorded, the year 1896 will be too late. For this reason the Committee of the Old Girls' Union decided to collect in accessible form as many as possible of the reminiscences and memories of events that might not be available elsewhere. To give the narrative coherence these have been arranged as far as practicable and linked with some extracts from the Jubilee Book pUblished in 1936. It is regretted that so few have responded to the published invitation to send information. Consequently there are many omissions and, since memories are not infallible, there may be errors of fact. If so, any correction will be welcomed and recorded. Perhaps this booklet may stimulate others to record their memories for future use. M.L.C. has been served by many dedicated teachers who have influenced their pupils not only by their precepts but by their personality and example. It has been difficult to avoid an occasional mention of a name in the text, but wherever possible these have been avoided, because there is always the chance of omitting someone who had made a worthy contribution. They gave of their best, aware of their great responsibility in the training of future citizens, and they have their reward: "For their work continueth -----Broad and deep continueth, Greater than their knowing." The story of M.L.C. has spanned almost the entire era of the intellectual enfranchisement of women. Plato in the 4th Century B.C. maintained that girls and boys should be given similar education, but in practice the girls of Athens lived in seclusion and were given little formal education. This attitude, with minor exceptions, continued until beyond the middle of the nineteenth century, when the higher education of girls became at last a matter of national concern. The Methodist Church was not alone in recognising this, but it was certainly in the field when the N.S.W. Wesleyan Conference of 1883 carried a resolution to found a school for girls corresponding to Newi ngton College for boys.

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PART I

The seedling that was to develop into M.L.C. was first planted, not in Burwood, but at Lansdowne House in Concord. On 19 January 1855 an advertisement in The Sydney Herald stated that a Miss S.E. Lester "had a school for young ladies at Concord" and that"the pupils could indulge in horse exercise and saltwater bathing". The latter was conducted in Ita bathing house in the bay to which the pupils are conveyed" from the school. "By the 1870's Miss Lester had moved into a large two-storeyed house in Park Road called Kent House." Burwood at that time was a rural landscape. There was grazing land where the present oval lies, and a small creek ran through the fields to join a larger creek where Burwood Road is now. In 1799, Captain Rowley had received a grant of 150 acres of land on the south side of Parramatta Road, and between 1812 and 1817 a colonia/style cottage was "built some 240 feet due west" of the monument in Burwood Park. The home was called "Burwood Villa" from whence the suburb gained its name; Park Road was most probably the original carriage-way from the main road to the home. Cattle droving along the roads was the only traffic hazard where now signal lights and a police cadet are needed to ensure the safety of children on their way to and from school. Miss Lester was a memorable personality. She invariably wore a rustling black silk dress and a white cap and fichu; members of her staff dressed in a similar style. She was a strict disciplinarian and very little escaped her watchful eye, though she had a habit of keeping her head erect and moving only her eyes. She had a pony carriage which she drove herself, sitting firmly upright, and using special white leather reins on Sundays. On her retirement, Miss Lester lived in the house on the corner opposite the school (the old building at the rear of Number 47 was the coach-house). Two of her former staff accompanied her - the Art mistress and the French mistress. The latter was not quite as rigid as Miss Lester and was even capable of slipping a surreptitious sweet to a small boarder when the Head's quick eye was turned elsewhere. M.L.C. officially began when the N.S.W. Wesleyan Conference passed a resolution to the effect that the time had come for the founding of a school for girls, corresponding to Newington College for boys. After inspecting several sites it was decided to purchase Miss Lester's school for 拢6,000. "The buildings at the time consisted of what is now the Rest-room with the room beyond, a small drawing路 room to the left, and on the right the double room with folding doors (now the Bursar's Office and the House Office). Above all this was a series of bedrooms. Beyond this building, on the site of Schofield Hall, was a cottage, used chiefly for sleeping purposes. On the opposite side of Park Road was about one acre of grass路 land ~-----"

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The appointment of a Headmaster was a matter of crucial importance, and nobody could have foreseen how much the future development of the College would be influenced by the selection of a young man twenty eight years of age, with an Oxford M.A. degree. It was a hot morning on 2nd December 1885 when Charles Prescott was offered the position of Headmaster of the new Ladies' College about to be established at Burwood. He was home in Parramatta by noon to tell his wife, and and following day they went to see the school. There followed busy weeks of preparation. Lengthy committee meetings were held at the College and in the city. The heat continued, and the joint diary kept by Mr. Prescott and his wife records that after a meeting in town he "brought home ice for supper". The next day, 9th December, the temperature reached 10lo F (ca.41 째Cl. Despite th is, preparations went ahead and a prospectus was prepared and printed very expeditiously. Friends at Burwood proved helpful when the Prescotts took up residence on 18th January 1886. There were cabinets to be turned out, furniture to be arranged, and preparations made to welcome the new "Iady Principal" who was to act under the Headmaster. Miss Shiels, who had had a school of her own in Melbourne, arrived on the 26th January. The next day the school officially opened with 12 pupils on the books, of whom only 10 were present. By the 30th January the enrolment had risen to 5 boarders and 8 day girls with several more "virtually promised." The original title bestowed on the youthful Head of this small school was "President and Headmaster"and he was well qualified for this position. The teaching staff appointed by him remained almost intact for many years. Miss Shiels was mainly concerned with the younger children and with needlework; Mr. Frederick Morley was Music and Singing master for about forty years; Miss Douglas was appointed teacher of drawing and painting and it was she who designed the school badge in 1896, doubtless in consultation with the Headmaster. The colours were chosen by the Headmaster who selected the dark blue of his old University, Oxford, with (in his own words) "a dash of Cambridge light blue as a contrast." The original badge had rays of light streaming from the star. The College opened under the name of "Wesleyan Ladies' College, then changed in 1899 to Burwood Ladies' College. The girls christened themselves Beautiful Little Cherubs, but their right to this description was so hotly denied by pupils of a rival school that one feels whoever devised it had her tongue in her cheek! The second change, this time to Methodist Ladies' College was made in 1915, and now, as Church Union approaches, there is to be another change-this time to M.L.C. School. The present Rest-room was the original school room. The Principal's desk stood in the corner beyond the fireplace; it was later moved to the House Superintendent's Office and was still in use quite recently. All lessons, as well as Assembly, were conducted in this room, in about three groups. The children sat on forms around tables. No homework was set on Fridays, as this was Bath Night. The only bathroom was a large room opposite the Rest-room (later to become the kitchen).

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Picture of "The Art Studio" There was a wood copper stoked by "the man". The room also contained pegs for raincoats and shelves for rubber shoes. Early boarders associate the smell of rubber with the weekly "tub' . In the 19th century amenities were not missed because they had not been thought of. One little girl attended the school from 1896-1899. When her family moved to the Blue Mountains she became a weekly boarder. On the Monday morning her father, bearing a hurricane lamp, escorted her to the station to catch the train back to Burwood and used to give her a candle and matches to light the carriage till dawn. Already a happy relationship had been established between the girls and those in charge of them. Both Rev. and Mrs. Prescott had the gift of inspiring personal affection without losing respect for their authority. This atmosphere has usually been maintained in later years. Many a small boarder from the country or overseas has been saved from home-sickness by a gentle and kindly Pnncipal's wife; many a parent, reluctant to part with a small daughter, has been reassured by the friendliness and generous hospitality of the Principal's family. In fairness, it must be admitted that there is another side to the picture. No boarding school can be quite like home, and girls accustomed to the freedom of country life inevitably find rules and routine irksome. Eventually, their sense of humour generally showed them the funny side and they could look back on their escapades with amusement. Development during the first year was slow, but steady; new applications for enrolment being received fairly regularly. The first school photograph was taken on 4


20th September 1886, and "Prize Day" was held in Burwood School of Arts on 16th December. Some of the earliest prizewinners have since presented their beautifully bound books to the Library, where a gold medal, won by an early Dux of the College is also a valued item.

obverse

reverse DUX PRIZE

Awarded to KATHLEEN PRESCOTT

Extra-curricular activities also began early and outdoors these included walks across the fields and boating on Hen and Chicken Bay; some games were feasible in spite of ankle-length frocks. Rounders was played every Tuesday and Friday in the "Paddock" (as the Field was then called) with Mr. Prescott as Captain of the boarders and Mr. Morley (visiting Music master) as Captain of the day girls. "The young ladies were not expected to run - the gentlemen did that for them! And when the ball went under the bench, Mr. Morley would take off his top-hat, tuck up his coat-tails and dive underneath to retrieve it." Tennis was always popular. As numbers grew it was felt that a new court was needed and an asphalt court was made where the Swimming Pool now is. It cost ÂŁ60 in 1898. To raise funds for this, a sale of work was held in the Kindergarten. In 1891 an innovation was introduced in the form of a Kindergarten under the direction of a trained Kindergarten teacher. This was so early in the days of the Kindergarten Movement that M.L.C. is believed to have been the first school in N.S.W. to erect a building expressly for the purpose. It was a well-built and well-

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equipped wooden structure with a wide, open verandah occupying the corner of the grounds bounded by Rowley and Grantham Streets. 4- / ' ~('{. A row of coral trees lined the Rowley Street ~ i-. t :;..,'J-':".' ,~~ fence of the school and between the original .....~r-\? ..~. building and the Kindergarten was a large r' silky oak tree, almost centrally placed; .1"II,"4:\~~~ beneath the tree was a much-used seeVr.1,'f.:-l \(~~.":I saw.! When the Kindergarten was finally ':'!t~\!.({!....,:M;~ demolished to r.lake way for the Assembly ,~~~L;:'~\'; ~/l', Hall and the silky oak felled, timber from .' ~!IIJ{' i">~':\'\~\Ud', the. tree was used to fashion the stately ,n'Ji 'I\,~,l\'~'~'t~~~"~, ch~lr and the table for the Hall platform ;/1'(1,( :t t\ II .". ~\h. In use to the present day. ' I

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erection of Schofield Hall - to be used as a dining-hall. The building was officially opened by the Rev. Charles Stead, President of Conference, on 19th November 1892. , <:'

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Later gifts from Mrs. Schofield in 1919 allowed a further extension incorporating the Towers on the northern side of the Park Road building. When the school outgrew the Rest-room for Assembly, Schofield Hall was used and the girls filed in column to stand along the walls and between the dining tables. The Principal, Headmistress and Staff were seated on the platform. As years passed Schofield became somewhat crowded and it was almost an impossibility not to bump the chairs against the tables during the course of Assembly. By 1892 the School was ready to produce its own magazine, and the first issue of "The Excelsior" appeared. It was painstakingly hand-written in copying ink and apparently reproduced on an oldfashioned "jelly roll". Some parts of the faded writing are indecipherable, but the eagerness of the young can be felt as we study the elaborate design on the cover, the Report of a "Boarders Social Evening" and the neatly tabulated examination results: 4 passes in the Senior and 9 in the Junior! After all, their thoughts are on the future. The ------::;;llf('m---'iC!'o ..,..._-Editorial plural is grandly used in the article which says: "We assume the attitude

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of expectation and look forward as we enter upon a new territory of time."

The girls of the late nineteenth century were ready for change and some of the innovations that came in succeeding years were d'Je to their initiative. Uniforms were introduced about 1898. Straw "boaters" instead of the fashionable elaborate hats were the first innovation. Then the girls themselves decided they wanted a uniform but the authorities

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were slow to act. On their own initiative the senior girls planned to have their winter frocks made all in the same style, and returned after the holidays in a "uniform" of their own design. Some years later, the Principal was reconciled to the idea when the many-coloured array of summer dresses in church distracted his attention from his sermon ! Dr. Prescott was loved and respected by the girls, who were very resentful when he was transferred to become Headmaster of Newington College in 1899. However, it was most fortunate for the school that a worthy successor was available on the staff. Miss Minnie Wearne M.A. had already been entrusted with the entire charge of the scholastic side. Miss Wearne had two sisters, Miss Amy and Miss Mattie. Miss Amy had earlier distinguished herself while a pupil at the school. She now joined the staff, thus beginning a long continued tradition of Old Girls on the College Staff - two of whom became Headmistresses. Miss Mattie is remembered in particular for her paintings, two of which hang in the Wearne Library: one landscape, dated 1904, depicts Manly Beach showing the famous pines as partly-grown little trees.

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Photo of Sixth Form 1897

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PART II

Girls leaving M.L.C. at the turn of the century were anxious not to lose contact either with one another or with the school that they had grown to love. At a small gathering of past pupils in 1902 on Balmoral Beach, the seed that was to grow into the Old Girls' Union was planted. By 1903 the O.G.U. was a properly constituted body and since that year it has been the "voice of the Old Girls"; ever ready to help the College in its activities and to provide the link between present and past pupils. "Back-to-College Day", its major annual reunion, was planned especially for the first Wednesday after Easter "so that country Old Girlswho came toSydney for the Easter Show" would be able to attend. Active participation in sport met with greatly increased encouragement in the early twentieth century. No longer was it considered "unladylike" to run and jump and take healthy exercise. About the year 1905 "Swedish Drill" (also known by the impressive name of Callisthenics) was introduced. Basketball (later called Netball) was played in the same year. "Those who did not indulge in either basketball or tennis found their amusement in performances with a skipping rope", so writes one ex-pupil. In 1910 hockey was added to the list of team games. Miss Amy Wearne was responsible for much of this activity, but in particular she roused the enthusiasm of the girls for Athletics. There was still some prejudice to be overcome among conservative adults, but despite this M.L.C. became the first N.S.W. girls' - 11 -

Basketball 1906


Basketball 1970

school to hold an Athletic Sports Day - largely owing to the initiative of the girls themselves. The Excelsior's report of the first Sports Day (November 1906) comments: "The Form Race was generally considered the prettiest item on the programme. The flags (for the most part made of the school colours) were extremely pretty" Without modern gas-filled balloons and plastic pennants it was not easy to be spectacular, but the aspiration was evidently there. Sports Days were held in the Field up to 1924, then transferred to Concord Oval (St. Luke's). "We had a half holiday in the morning and the Sports started early in the afternoon. Only the finals were run on the great day, the heats having been completed in the Field. Every girl was trained in hurdles and we had all sorts of preparatory exercises". Another Old Girl writes: "From the first day of the winter term it was obligatory for every girl in every class to run at least once round the perimeter of the Field each day in preparation for the Sports." The Sports staff and the girls' committee had a busy time before and aftertheday itself- all essentials had to be collected in one central place for transport by truck to and from the Oval.

Burwood Park was mapped as a class exercise "' by a group ~~===---~of M. L.C. girls, and this was used as a basis for the planning of Burwood Oval, to which the Sports were eventually transferred.

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Hockey practice and matches were also played on Concord Oval, which meant quite a long walk after 3.30 p.m. before sport began. Nowadays, one crosses Park Road to the Oval! Until such time as the short sports tunic with its pale blue band round the bottom was introduced in 1936, all school tunics had to be at least 4 inches . .. I,. , from the ground when kneeling, ~'

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Hockey c.1910


Hockey 1914.

(this was checked at the regular monthly uniform inspections! ) so that they could be used as formal and sports wear. During World War II everyone had coupons for clothing and one of the modifications to the uniform was the introduction of ankle sox to be worn for sport; they could also be worn at school during the day, but never when travelling. Stockings were considered a "Iuxury" item during the War, hence this change helped parents conserve clothing coupons. Drill competitions were held in the open space bounded by the Kindergarten, the Rowley Street frontage and the end of a classroom block. Staff could sit on the verandah of the classroom block and watch the drill being executed, class by class, in the rather dusty area before ..,-. them. It seemed a magnificent achievement when the school acquired a real gymnasium, first used used in 1928. Wednesday afternoon was considered "sports" afternoon (even Burwood Ladies' College: The Gymnasium

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"Our camera has caught minutes from the golden schoolday hours as known by the smartly uniformed girls of the Methodist Ladies' College, Burwood. Here, In an atmosphere of old world gardens and architecture, study and sport ale blended to mould fine Australian women PhYSical drill plays an Important part In the school'~ daily plogramme The girls excel In the gymnasium and 011 the tenniS court as well as In the classlooms ..

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, T"psday, May 10, 1932

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though team games were played on other afternoons) and lessons were dovetailed so that classes fInished dt 2.30 p.m.. all girls were expected to participate III some activity. When swimming was Introduced the girls caught the tram at the bottom of Burwood Park for Mortlake Baths; later buses were used to transport the swimmers to Enfield Baths until such time as the school acquired its own pool. Exciting features of the school year were the I nterschools Swimming and Athletics Carnivals. In the 1920's the former were held at the Domain Baths; the Athletics Carnival has always been held at Sydney Sports Ground. "These were outings for the whole school; we walked in twos, crocodi Ie fash ion to Strathfield station to board the train (several carriages having been reserved for us) to Central. Again in crocodile line we moved out from Central station to cross Eddy Avenue to board either a bus or tram to take us to our destination. Even in those days there was a reasonable amount of traffic in Eddy Avenue, but our' crossing was easy as Miss Sutton in her commanding manner acted as 'traffic cop' ". Returning to school at the beginning of 1924, the girls found that "our school premises have been enlarged by the addition of Abbeythorpe" - a large two-storeyed house separating the Field from the Park. This became the home of the Kindergarten and the Primary School for many years. Another change was the conversion of one of the sixth form classrooms into a laboratory "fitted up with such fascinating shelves and cupboards - - - that we aII longed to join a chemistry class without delay." M.L.C. quickly earned the distinction of being the first girls' school in N.S.w. to teach physics to Leaving Certificate standard. The 1923 Prefects were given permission 15


to convert an old Music room into a Prefects Room. This was used for the first time by the 1924 Prefects and since then there has always been a room for use by the Prefect body. Around the panelled wall of the room are small plaques recording the names of both the Senior and House Prefects since the system was introduced into M.L.C. A small, two-roomed wooden building stood almost beneath the large jacaranda tree at the north-west corner of the Principal's lawn. This served for some time as the school "hospital"; then it was converted into two classrooms, one of which later became the first cookery room in the school. From the 1920's, for a number of years, a display of Christmas cakes, made and decorated by the cookery classes, was arranged for parents and visitors to inspect after the official Speech Day Programme in the Assembly Hall had concluded. Another small room, which has served a number of purposes in the school, is the present surgery (at the western end of the Quadrangle). In turn it has been Staff room, classroom, Sports room and Book room. Speech Day was first held in the Burwood School of Arts, but when Schofield Hall was built, it was large enough for the important function. The entire school was seated on half the platform; the guests of honour and Council occupied the other half; visitors filled the hall below them. An entry in the Excelsior (May 1916) states: 1915 "Speech Day was celebrated in a spacious marquee in the sports field and the innovation was a great success." This "spacious marquee (resembling a large circus tent) was used for Speech Days until the end of 1926. Two descriptions - one from a pupil, one from a Staff member - help to describe this occasion: "Speech Day in the marquee, even though it issued in the Christmas holidays, was an endurance test. We were seated on folding wooden seats on either side of a central platform at one end of the marquee. Both seats and platform were delicately balanced on the uneven ground of the field and all movement had to be slow and careful." "My memory is of heat in the marquee, and wind and heat outside - as well as dear Sutt giving her report and the girls cherubic." Afternoon tea was served in the field after the function had concluded and the description continues: "Lots of little tables in a roped off adjacent area, with white linen cloths that would blow off, and vases of flowers that also met disaster - here the Staff and maids in black uniforms and white starched aprons served afternoon tea to the parents." 1927 - From the Excelsior Editorial (May 1927): 'We of this school year have the rare pleasure of seeing one of our school's 'castles in the air' becoming a castle on the earth." - namely an Assembly Hall. The long stage resembled a mosaic of building blocks; there was a fixed central section, around which the building blocks could be so arranged to form tiered-seating for Speech Day. The body could seat up to one thousand people. What a change from the Marquee! The girls of the first quarter of the 20th century were provided with few entertainments, and their lives were strictly regulated. But they found their fun in small things, and were evidently as lively as regulations allowed - indeed they - 16


found amusement in dodging regulations! The memories included here came from classes which included unawares future doctors, scientists and outstanding teachers some of whom returned to their old school. Tuesdays and Fridays were "shopping days" for the boarders. Two girls were appointed to collect the orders and money from those who wanted to make purchases. No more than sixpence was allowed for fruit and sixpence for sweets. When girls had special permits to go out they sometimes brought back extra "goodies". There was trouble in Central Wing one morning when a domestic staff member reported that she had found chicken bones in a waste paper basket. It did not need Sherlock Holmes to deduce that there had been a midnight feast! The same pattern of life seemed to continue for many years, particularly in respect of after school activities. One boarder writes: "It is now 3.20 p.m. The day girls have packed up and left. The boarders have had their bread and jam (no butter) for afternoon tea, and looked on the notice board for letters. What are they going to do for the next hour? ------ Personally, I was quite happy to do nothing for an hour. We invented many quite interesting and instructive forms of nothing to fill in the time, such as hand-ball, hop-scotch and sevenses (games requiring no skill whatsoever, and therefore within my capacity). However, those in authority apparently had tender consciences when it came to encouraging these forms of idleness, so they invented a form of purgatory known as "Boarders Sport' . A description of a "prep" room at night is equally worthy of record: "The sights of a prep. room provide plenty of stimulation for the philosophic mind. The whole picture is a study in lack of concentration. Perhaps cases are opened, perhaps books are on the desk, here and there someone may be writing with a look of industry on her face. But what is really happening is that Parkinson's Law is operating. Work is expanding to fill the time available to do it in." Examination of a homework notebook provided the following entry on one date: 'Eng.McG. Ex 27 1-10'

'Bilg.fin.T.S. leaf'

We leave you to decipher these hieroglyphics! In 1915 ,iThe Song of the Burwood Collegian" was composed and went with a swing to the tune of "Riding Down from Bangor". It never received official recognition, but enlivened many unofficial occasions perhaps best not chronicled ! In 1926 a School Song was written by Lois Carter and set to music by her mother. This song was used until 1932, and was only superseded because M.L.C. was granted a signal honour by the Poet Laureate. In that year John Masefield gave permission for M.L.C. to use as its own the song he had written for his daughter's school in England. The noted pianist, Mr. Lindley Evans, who was a member of the Music Staff of the Cpllege, composed the music. On his visit to Sydney in 1934, Mr. Masefield graciously consented to append his signature to one of the printed copies. This was framed and is now hanging in the Assembly Hall.

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SCHOOL SONG Here in this house where we are singing thus, Long generations will come after us: Friends we have never known will come to share This life of ours, wondering what we were. Long after we are gone their minds will take The human pathways our endeavours make. We shall not see them, hut we can endow This place with heauty for them here and now. We can so live that after we are dead They may find heauty here like daily hread. We can so live that they may find each one A life here of truth said and kindness done: The knowledge that this world of mysteries Wants many thousand true for one that's wise, The faith that when a twilight finds us gone, All we have consecrated will live on To help the souls of other unseen friends Into a calm where heauty never ends ~ John Masefield. By permission of the Poet Laureate and the British Society of Authors.

An Old Girl comments: "The most reassuring wisdom comes from the school song. That bit - 'This world of mysteries Wants many thousands true for one that's wise' really does live with me, and I've passed it on to many - particularly young friends. That song takes a bit of living up to ! "

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PART III

The Great Depression of 1929-1935 was ushered in "with banks crashing around us, mails robbed in our midst, taxes claimed on our pennies"; yet our school proceeded and entered another phase of its development. Yes, there were problems, there were stresses and strains, but the school survived and continued to grow in strength and influence. "There is a hill in England; Green fields and a school I know; Where the balls fly fast in summer, And the whispering elm trees grow; A little hill, a green hill, And the playing fields below. There is a hill In Flanders, Heaped with a thousand slain; Where the shells fly night and noontide, And the ghosts that bide in vain; A little hill, a hard hill, TQ those who died in pain. There is a hill in Jewry; Three crosses pierce the sky; On the midmost He is dying To save all those who die; A little hill, a hard hill, To souls in jeopardy." This poem, written by a master at one of the Great Public Schools in England was quoted by the President of N.S.w. Methodist Conference when he addressed the school after presenting the Senior Prefects with their badges at a morning Assembly early in the school year. The year 1933 was the first of what became the Annual Prefects' Induction Service, which now is one of the memorable events of the school year. It is a source of inspiration to all pupils and encourages them to seek and maintain the high standard implied in our school song and school hymn. A bowl of red roses on the table symbolises the beauty of the service. One August day in 1935 will be remembered by the girls - a visit was paid to the school by Her Majesty the Queen of Tonga, Queen Salote. Several Tongan girls had been pupils in the school, and it was probable that there would be others in the years ahead. In her speech, she made everyone feel proud to be an M. L.C. girl by . 19 .


saying that "without the education she had had in a similar school in New Zealand, she could not have ruled Tonga as she had." 1936 - The Golden Jubilee of the school I A period of retrospect and adumbration ! "The intervening years have been marked by achievement in every sphere scholastic, musical, athletic and, best of all, having helped to produce real womanhood. These things are a happy augury for the future." The Jubilee celebrations extended from September to November and began with a Church Service in Burwood Methodist Church. Members of every College, of the Old Girls' Union and the Parents and Friends Association played a vital part in making the various functions outstanding successes. A feature of the Old Girls' contribution was the Jubilee Birthday Cake. It was made from 30 gallons of icecream, in the school colours, weighed 250 pounds and stood 6 feet high. Miniature College crests adorned the corners of each tier and it bore 50 candles. These were blown out by the first grandchild to be enrolled as a pupil; Dr. Prescott cut the cake.

Complete School during 1936 Jubilee Year

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1937 witnessed further celebrations as it was the twenty-fifth anniversary of Miss Sutton's appointment as Headmistress. The whole school foregathered one afternoon on the Principal's lawn to honour her. Among the gifts presented was a leather-bound book containing the signatures of 2!!.pupils in the school (the Kindergarten could just manage to print their Christian names). This book is one of the "treasures" in the school archives. An Old Girl recalls one of her lasting impressions of Miss Sutton in the following story: "a group of us, 13-14 years old, had been particularly spiteful to one of our class and were calling her by an unpleasant nickname. The following morning, in Assembly, Miss Sutton suddenly said: 'My darlings - I know you all call me 'Suttie' and I like you doing so. Please remember that a nickname should be used only as a term of endearment! ' " Playday was for many years a highlight; celebrated on Shakespeare's birthday, it was an occasion which called forth latent talent and was prepared for with much effort. Spurred on by an enthusiastic teachw with a profound love of Shakespeare, girls were inspired to present truly moving scenes from the great plays. But there was always a drive for a Dramatic Society, and this was fulfilled in 1936 when an inaugural meeting was called. The response was so overwhelming that in a short time two groups were needed, a Senior and a Junior. After that, plays and playreadings were constantly in preparation and resulted in many enjoyable productions. Facilities in those days were non-existent; performers had to improvise lighting effects and costumes and contend with a low platform from which the audience could see nothing below waist level. Motorlamps screwed into butterboxes became floodlights; colour screens were fitted into hand-made frames and precariously piled wooden boxes raised a small witch or an angel to visible height. Ingenuity and hard work were generally rewarded by a generous response from the uncritical audiences. Profits from these performances were used to buy materials for make-up and costumes (some of which were made by young enthusiasts returning to school after their final exams). Experience brought improved skills, so it became possible for girls to undertake their own productions, and for more ambitious stage-effects to be achieved. When the stage was rebuilt and lighting equipment installed in recent years, operettas and full-scale musical comedies have been successfully produced, sometimes in collaboration with Newington College - thus entailing much hard work on the part of many helpers behind the scenes as well as the actual performers. Nobody can estimate the value of all this activity. To those taking part it was simply 'lots of fun', but they may have gained from it more than they quessed; as one performer expressed it: "we found out how it feels to be somebody else." Music has always played a major part in the life of the school. From its early beginnings, piano and singing lessons were offered; these have been expanded over the years to include violin, wind instruments, etc. A comment in the Excelsior, June 1932, states: "At last the School Orchestra has arrived! " - 21 -


For many years, spanning the 1920's and 30's to 1941, the British Musical SocIety sponsored the Dempster Shield Festival held in the Conservatonum of Music in July every year. Pupils from the Independent Girls' Schools throughout N.S.w. participated in the various sections of the competition, and the school with the highest aggregate in either Music or Speech, was the proud possessor of a Dempster Shield for one whole year. Owing to war conditions the Festival lapsed in 1942 and, in this format, it was not revived at a later date. The two Dempster Shields will be found hanging on the rear wall of our Assembly Hall. During the 1950's a non-competitive Music Festival was held annually in Sydney Town Hall. Again this was abandoned, to be revived in 1974 as an evening at the Opera House. A similar function will be held in 1976, and this suggests that it could become a biennial event for the school calendar. The first Music Festival, aher the introduction of the "House System" was held in 1942, and there have been many others since then. "On Friday, August 26th, great excitement was the order of the day" so reports the 1910 Excelsior. The operetta "Pri ncess Chrysanthemum" was to be staged in the Schofield Hall that evening. In 1966, the eightieth birthday of the school, in the Assembly Hall, the singing pupils presented "Figaro and Susanna" (a special arrangement of Mozart's opera "The Marriage of Figaro"). The interest in Art of Speech has been growing over the years, stimulating a love of poetry and an appreciation of Iiterature as well as the beauty of the spoken language. Active participation of a Verse-Speaking Choir in the biennial Carol Service gives expression to this. The Reference Library was founded by a young and enthusiastic teacher of English (who also re-introduced the sport of Basketball which had been superseded by Hockey in 1910). She roused the interest of the girl~ and they began to raise money to buy books. The custom of giving a book to the Library as one left school came into being about the same time. The O.G.U. supported this venture also, and in the early nineteen twenties the Wearne Library was opened. It was housed in the small room on the left of the front entrance (Now the Business Manager's Office) and consisted of a number of cupboards enclosed in frosted glass and filled with books neatly covered in a uniform dark green cloth. This may seem very inadequate by modern standards, but at that time it was considered such a great step forward that an article and photograph were featured in a Sydney newspaper. All the work was voluntary, and the well-chosen book-stock of a few hundred volumes later formed the essential nucleus of the thousands in the new Wearne Library. The plaque, obtained by Miss Thecla Potts, and later transferred to the new Library, expresses the fact learnt by hundreds of girls as they enjoyed the riches stored there: 22 .


"W Ithou t tl love for books The 1'1 hest I1ldn IS poor" (John ThollldS Ldngfordl. All Ih,s WdS Inspired by the Head of the English DepdrLnWIlI, who for n1any years also directed tlw Senior Dramatic Society and the Studl'lll Chr Istiall Movement. The Old Girls' Union determtned that the Library lllUSt grow With the school, and they worked for years to raise funds for a new Llbrar y which was to house also the Fiction Library a separate collection, managed by Staff and pupil volunteers, in the large room beside the Quadrangle. Before the Second World War the timber for the furniture (Tasmanian coach wood) had been bought, but it had to be stored until the War and its aftermath had passed and new buildings became possible. The first new building, named Sutton House, was a two storeyed one and up stairs, except for two Sixth Form classrooms, the whole area was occupied by the Library. All the beautifully made furniture and equipment were provided by the O,G.U., who also raised funds in later years for reference books and additional items that were needed. Shelves for 8,000 books seemed a lavish provision in those days, as the use of the Library as a teaching aid had only just been recognised. Both the Reference and Fiction Libraries were transferred to their new home, catalogued and expanded under the auspices of a full-time trained Librarian. Anecdotes heard in the Library precincts: "Please have you any Tarzans?" inquired a very Junior Boarder. Librarian: "Oh no ! We don't have Tarzan stories in the M.L.C. library. V.J.B.: "But I meant Tarzan's Grip. My little duck has broken his beak and I thought I could mend it" (The electric glue pot provided by the O.G.U. rendered effect ive First Aid !) A Senior Prefect summed it up with the remark: "No matter what problem the Juniors came up with, I would always say: 'Try the Library first! ' " The pictures in the library have long association with the school. The fine features and scholarly expression of Miss Minnie Wearne are perpetuated In a modern reproduction of an old photograph. The famous pine trees at Manly lend a special Interest to one of the little landscapes painted by Miss Mattie Wearne; two flower paintings commemorate two outstanding members of the teaching staff who, by tragic coincidence, died suddenly on the same day. A landscape in tones of blue, 23 .


chosen to harmonise with the furnishings, was donated in recognition of the work of an English mistress who for many years administered the first Wearne Library. A needlework copy of Holman Hunt's "LightoftheWorld"was a gift from an old lady in England to whom food parcels were sent during World War II. Her work has been described as "faultless" by the judges who awarded her First Prize at the International Exhibition; one of her pictures was accepted by the Queen, so we are privileged to own another.

Up to 1942 the school had been divided into class groups of some 24 to 30 pupils of approximately the same age. In this year the suggestion was put forward that a "House system" might be introduced; this would divide the school longitudinally into groups, each called a House; these could be further divided into Senior, Middle and Junior. Not only would this provide more girls with the opportunity of showing their leadership potential, but it could encourage greater enthusiasm, interest and friendly competition within the school. Members of the Staff were to be allocated to the various divisions in the Houses to act as mentors and advisers. The Headmistress and Senior Prefects held many meetings discussing and planning before details were finalised. The names of the Houses were to commence with the initials M.L.C.B. and in addition to using aboriginal words, these were to be chosen that each of the four components of the school badge could be used as a House emblem. The colours for each House were also chosen to reflect the meanings of the respective names and the badge components. In summary these are: Mooramoora:

good spirit.

Emblem:

the Book.

the Shield.

Colour:

Colour:

green (I nitiative)

violet

Leawarra:

rising.

Churunga:

sacred thing.

Emblem:

the Cross.

Colour:

gold

(worship)

Booralee:

Star or light.

Emblem:

the Star.

Colour:

red

(chivalry)

Emblem:

(conviction)

If the House colours are added to the School Colours a mixture known to physicists as "wh ite" light is obtai ned, so once agai n we are remi nded of our motto: "Ut filiae lucis ambulate" Gradually House songs were written and set to music; the authorship being attributable to the girls themselves.

路24 .


MOORA MOORA HOUSE SONG

Words: Music:

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Quendy Whitehouse Ann Earl

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-t=~==j~--' ~ ~mp-p The emerald of a sturdy flag, floats proudly up on high And lifts our heads and hearts towards the beauty of the sky. Good spirit breaths thru' all we do, in study, work and thought, And when we're on the praying field, good spirit in our sport ! A spirit true is imaged thru' a book of sacred pages, It is our duty to pass on, from past to future ages. While limbs are young and hearts are keen, We gather in this knOWledge, And render service back to God, to Country. House and College /

. 25 -


LEAWARRA HOUSE SONG

Words: Music:

Janet Britton Margaret Merrick

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From lofty snow-capped mountains to thirsty golden plains. Through cool fern-covered valley, kept moist by mountain rains, A thousand little streamlets flow merrily along To join the mighty river, majestic, smooth and strong. Our River, Leawarra with others swell the sea Blest be her girls forever and may they loyal be. 1?ley form the one great river, that flows to one great sea With others swell the ocean, our school, our M.L.C. From all parts of the country girls join the chattering throng Small creeks to make one river, our girls to sing one song.

- 26-

Small creeks make up the River, Four Rivers join the sea. May our House Leawarra. Aspiring ever be.


Words: Music:

CHURUNGA HOUSE SONG

Sing we of this house Churunga, The gold house of the school, The cross that shines above us, Our symbol, our pride and our rule, To do our best endeavour, In sport and study too, To serve the school's tradition, Churunga we promise you. In Joyful love Churunga, We pledge our service true, To God and to our neighbour, Jn all that we think or we do, Come happiness or sorrow, This shall our purpose be To do our best and n blest For God, the school and thee.

27

Anne Gifford Heather Ba/combe


Across the bluest sea a white sail shines, 'Tis the sail of a ship from a far country Seeking new gems for her treasury And the black skinned men who gaze from the shore Are awed by a sign never seen before A mysterious star heaven sent o'er the sea. Booralee I

Far down time's widening sea a star still shines A star in the flag of our young country, Of a school and a house that is Booralee. And we in our youth as we stand on the shore Look up to that star, there it hangs evermore, Bidding us launch on the widening sea. Booralee, Booralee I

路28路


Towards the end of 1945, a boarder who was just completing her Secondary schooling at M.L.C. asked of a member of Staff: "What is M.L.C. really like? I have only known it during the War years when our lives have been governed by "blackouts" by night and regular Air-Raid practices." This could well have applied to pupils new to the school in 1941 and 1942; in spite of all the tangible restrictions the spirit of M.L.C. was clearly in evidence. The Field resembled major earthworks with its maze of trenches; knitting (scarves, socks, pullovers, etc.) was visible in all stages of making allover the school; containers for used stamps, toothpaste tubes, silver paper, etc. adorned all corners; but the day-to-day activities of the school continued. The ingenuity of classes was taxed to find novel ways of raising money to purchase "food parcels" to send overseas. Everyone realised the gravity of the situation as food and clothing could only be obtained with coupons. War Savings Certificates replaced the coveted leatherbound books bearing the College Crest as Prizes on Speech Day. The school badge - a small replica of the crest - worn by every pupil in the school was unobtainable during these years. Before the War it had been a silverplated metal badge; after the War it became a metal badge enamelled in blue and gold.

"Kent House" - Demolished 1966 - 29 -


PART IV

~~d~// Within a few months from the ending of the War, M.L.C. entered its Diamond Jubilee year; once again there were many functions planned. A Thanksgiving Service was held in the Assembly Hall when the President-General, Rev.J.w. Burton,M.A.,D.D., gave the address; Dr. Prescott offered the re-dedicatory prayer. This was the last occasion that the school was to see Dr. Prescott so there was a tinge of sadness surrounding an otherwise memorable service. A highlight of the year was the girls' own celebration; a picnic in the Botanical Gardens followed by a Harbour Excursion. The culmination of the year's activities came at the end of Speech Day when the Governor of New South Wales, Lieut.-General Sir John Northcott laid the foundation stone of a new building on the Grantham Street frontage. He was to return three years later in the same dual capacity - Guest of Honour at Speech Day, then to officially open the new building, to be called Sutton House. On both occasions a guard of honour was formed by the girls extending from the Hall to the main entrance of the building. Two science laboratories and a geography room occupied the ground floor (in the designing of which the respective Staff had been given an opportunity to make suggestions), while the long-awaited Library ~;::;:~~ and two classrooms .... were to be found upstairs.

Junior Uniforms - 1970's

- 30 -


of desolation next morning with "a grey ooze of charcoal flowing down the main stairs near Schofield Hall". Practical promises of help poured in and with inspired leadership and ready co-operation of all, lessons were carried on with minimal interruption. By grace of the Australian Military Headquarters the large buildings and grounds of "Broughton" - a disused wartime holding camp in Duffy Street (within walking distance of the school) were made available, so the Primary classes and the Commercial class were transferred there. It is often easier to rise to an occasion than to cope with its aftermath. The real test for the school came when months of discomfort had to be endured in make-shift areas.

Temporary Laboratory - VIAl at Work

From the ashes of the fire rose not only remodelled classrooms and dormitories on the Rowley Street frontage, but we were soon to enjoy the faci lities of Sutton House. All girls who have walked to school from Strathfield will remember the old A noticemansion with spacious grounds a short distance along Rowley Street. board indicated that it was part of M.L.C. from the beginning of 1950 and had been named "Kent House" to perpetuate the name of Miss Lester's school. The Kindergarten and Lower Primary girls were to be its occupants until 1966 when it was demolished to make way for a much larger, more modern building able to house the complete Primary and Infants Departments. By 1955 the school had outgrown the Assembly Hall for its Annual Speech Day,

- 31 -


so the function was transferred to the evening and held in the Sydney Town Hall. "Lines of girls in white frocks moving simultaneously from several entrances to their seats in the organ loft or the galleries close to the platform were an unforgettable sight", The tradition of the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" by the schoolleavers, which used to take place in the Quadrangle, was transferred to the Foyer of the Town Hall. About this time, the display of Art, Cookery, Needlework which was set out in the respective teaching areas for parents to view at the end of Speech Day was changed into another biennial function of the school calendar. Parents Visiting Day, held towards the end of the school year became the day when the girls with practical ability could exhibit their crafts to best advantage. The Mannequin Parade, with the girls modelling the garments they had made, was "the" feature of the function.

Speech Day 1924

March 9 1957 - the day that saw "the fulfilment of a dream". As far back as 1929 when the Parents and Friends Association was first formed, its dream was a Swimming Pool for the College. Fund raising efforts began in a small way with a "Tuck Shop Day"; usually a Monday as lunches after a weekend were a problem. Several parents would be seen crossing Burwood Park with large wicker baker's baskets on their arms, inside which would be small assortments of items provided for the girls' lunches. Fetes and many other fundraising ventures were held in order to raise enough money to meet the ever-rising cost of the Pool - BUT finally the day arrived when the first President of the Parents and Friends Association, Mrs. Eirene Brett, (herself an Old Girl) opened the Pool. Lorraine Crapp, an expupil of Olympic fame, was the first to dive into the Pool and set an official "all-comers" record.

Over the years Burwood Methodist Church has played a major role in the life of the College; in fact, it could be called the College Chapel. Most probably this role has been more significant in the life of the Boarders than in the life of the Day Girls. But, all pupils (Primary 2 to Sixth Form) will remember the walk across the Park and up Burwood Road to the Church, on the last Monday of the school year, for the Annual Church Service - "A service of thanksgiving for the year just ending" so said Miss Sutton. The flowers, hydrangea!> in all shades of blue, red-hot pokers and white shaster daisies complemented the beauty of the reredos window of the church. A special "Order of Service" had been printed and it

路32 -


was customary to present every school-Ieaver with a copy after her final service as a school pupil. There are many cherished copies of this Service amongst Old Girls to this day! By 1950 the enrolment in the school had increased to the stage where even with a row of chairs down each aisle the school could not be seated with any semblance of comfort, so a Junior Church Service was inaugurated. Although the ideal behind the Service was the same, a simpler order was used and it was held earlier in the year. For a period of time during the 1960's it was necessary to further reorganise the Service into Primary, Middle School and Senior. Shortly after the War Dr. Wade conceived the idea of a Communion Service for the Senior pupils and members of Staff. It was to be a voluntary ecumenical service, and, if so desired, the girls could take their first Communion at this Service provided they attended preparation classes beforehand. From 1964 parents of girls taking Communion for the first time were invited to participate in the Service. For many years the Student Christian Movement was a force in the life of the school. Probably the first Schools' Branch, it was founded in 1898. Study circles and discussion groups were led by members of Staff; visiting speakers addressed open meetings, and fellowship was enhanced with other schools through Schools' Evenings and an Annual Schools' Day at Thornleigh. Camps, lasting a week, were also arranged during the Christmas holidays and usually held on the premises of a country boarding school. Among lasting memories of girls of those times is that of the small figure of their leader at the piano, and the members all clustered round singing "Felawschipe" with a fervour seldom matched in later years. About 1950 the girls decided to try to make more impact on the school as a whole. They were given permission to plan and conduct morning assembly once a month, and they presented a special Easter Service on the last morning before the Easter holidays. This took the form of dramatic readings, songs or tableaux, two of the most effective being the reading of extracts from Dorothy Sayers "The Man Born to be King" and a moving play "Were You There?"; the latter being an entirely unaided production by the girls themselves. The S.C.M. adopted a little Indian girl, Urmilla, at the age of three and. became responsible for her education until she left school. Membership was maintained at over a hundred until mid-1960's when the N.S.w. Committee for the A.S.C.M. in schools assumed responsibility for all activities and undertook to train senior pupils to run their own meetings without Staff leadership, and even later developments brought about further adjustments. In the preface to the illuminated presentation copy of the Carol Service are the words: "Far away in the hills of North Wales, there is a school where every year there used to be held a Carol Service ------; a harmony of spoken words, music and tableaux. Its beauty, simplicity and shining faith were for me a deeply moving, unforgettable experience".

- 33 -


And so, in December 1950, as a result of many hours of thought and discussion between all those to be associated with the production, the first Carol Service was held. Many technical problems had to be overcome but the old adage "Where there's a will, there's a way" proved itself once again. Many girls, from all sections of the school, were involved in the choirs, tableaux and "behind the scenes"; at the end, a most appreciative, but thoughtful congregation left the Assembly Hall, acknowledging a greater realisation of the impact made by the Christmas story on their daily lives. For administrative reasons associated with a very full school programme, it was decided that this Service would be held biennially; but from the first it quickly established itself as a vital part of school life since: "The dominant theme is giving - giving by God - giVing by shepherds and kings and ordinary people - giving by Mary - giving with no restrictions of race and colour - giving by the Holy Spirit of the gifts of the spirit (love, and labour and generosity)." Wendy Pye, 1959 Head Girl, spent a year in an American school under the American Field Service Scholarship Scheme. On returning home she aroused the interest of the school so that, in 1961, we welcomed to M.L.C. our first American A.F.S. student, Michelle de Klyen from San Bruno, California. Since then, there has been a two-way exchange and a record of our girls going to America and of American students coming to us will be found in the Library. One of these scholars writes: "Assembly was a real novelty and has proved to me to be a truly worthwhile experience ------. The girls tend to go their own ways in the after school hours. Surprisingly, this does not really discourage school spirit, as I might have imagined." M.L.C. has also welcomed Rotary Exchange Scholars into its portals.. "The School Expands" - so writes an Excelsior Editorial. By 1961 the tennis court between the Assembly Hall and Sutton House; the row of palm trees and the rotary clothes lines (over which tarpaulins were thrown to provide someshelterfor the dispensers of afternoon tea following Speech Day) had disappeared. In their place had arisen a two-storeyed building, connecting the Assembly Hall with Sutton House. This complex of classrooms, Staff room and Home Science rooms was to be called Wade House. With the continuing increase in enrolment and the changes in Secondary education, as L-shaped extension was added to the northern end of Sutton House during the mid 1960's. Then, in 1966, two more laboratories were built over the Sixth Form rooms; followed at the beginning of the 70's y a classroom/laboratory block running parallel to the Sixth Form rooms and built on the old Laundry site This provided the Science facilities needed by the school and permitted the conversion of the "old" laboratories in Sutton House to a Language Laboratory and another Art room. At the opening of this extension by the former Prime Minister, the Hon. W. McMahon, it was announced that the Science block would be named Whitley House.

- 34 -


Finally, the "Design for the Seventies" provided the much needed individual study-bedrooms for the Senior pupils, in a building extending across the western end of the Principal's lawn. "Friends we have never known will come to share This life of ours, wondering what we were" May they in turn, add further "Links across the Years I "

SPEECH NIGHT - TOWN HALL, 1956

- 35 -


While no attempt has been made to detail the chronological development of M.L.C., it has been necessary to include an outline of major events in order that "Links across the Years" could be established.

The following reference material has been used: "Harvest of the Years" (Burwood Centenary Book by E. Dunlop. Diaries (1885 - 1887) of the late Rev. C.J. Prescott. M.L.C. Jubilee Book. Excelsiors. Letters and papers of Old Girls. Reminiscences, spoken and written, from Old Girls and ex-members of Staff.

- 36 -


M .L. C .

IN

19 7 6



Links Across the Years 1976