Our First Preparatory School
In 1919, Sir Samuel McCaughey, pastoralist and philanthropist, died, leaving £10,000 to Newington College. He left identical amounts to four other Sydney schools and, being a staunch Presbyterian, left £20,000 to Scots College.
After much debate, the College Council determined to use these funds to build a Preparatory School building. The College had an identifiable Preparatory School, organisationally separate from the ‘main school’, by 1903. But the Prep was housed in a small, undistinguished building on the College’s southern boundary.
The new Preparatory School, completed in 1921 in the same location, was a two-storey brick classroom block, ‘each storey containing two commodious well-appointed class-rooms, and a small study’, as The Newingtonian reported. Its appearance inspired a contributor to the magazine to describe it in the style of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Kubla Khan:
‘…And there were wide verandahs high and spacious,
And looked out many a window high above the field,
And here were class rooms furnished well and gracious,
Enfolding views which nothing there could shield.’
Until recently we had no photograph of this building, only glimpses of it in the background of larger views of the College. Recently, Bob Fairley (ON 1954) made his father’s photographs available to us for copying, including this one. Bob’s father, Robert ‘Bugs’ Fairley was Newington’s Senior Prefect in 1921 and may have taken the photograph that year, explaining the building’s ‘brand new’ look.
The building was intended as only a temporary home for the Preparatory School, until a larger building planned for Stanmore Road was built. This did not eventuate, but in 1938 the Prep moved to Wyvern House, now the Le Couteur Centre.
The 1921 Preparatory School building is still with us. It was incorporated into the War Memorial Classroom Block when the latter was built in 1953 and thus is now part of the War Memorial Centre. Few traces of the old building, however, are visible today.
Mr David Roberts