Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group

   

 Cheltenham Girls High School

 This school was established in 1958 on 6 acres purchased in 1952 by the Department of Education from the home “Yallambee” of Mr & Mrs Robert Vicars. As a result of the sale of this land The Promenade was built to provide a new access to the Vicars home “Yallambee.”  Following the death of his widow, at the age of 93 years in 1970 the Vicar’s home “Yallambee” which was situated on the remainder of their land holding was donated by the family to be added to the school and the home was demolished in 1971. From the house some stained glass windows were located and eventually re-instated in the school. [1]

 “Yallambee” had been built in 1916-17 for Robert Vicars and his wife. It was designed by Robert’s brother James who was an architect and engineer.

 For more information on Robert and Violet Vicars see their many biographical entries elsewhere on this website.  

 The house covered 11,500 square feet over two storeys. It was built of brick with a rough cast exterior and deep verandahs. It had six bedrooms, lounge, dining, billiards, children’s and maid’s quarters. There were extensive gardens and a long curved drive way from the corner of The Crescent and The Promenade. [2]

 School Principals

1958-1970      Miss Bessie Mitchell MBE.    A biography of Miss Bessie Mitchell appears  in this web site.

Link Mitchell, Bessie

1971-1976      Miss Beryl Smith.                       A biography of Miss Beryl Smith appears  in this web site.

Link Smith, Beryl

1977-1987      Miss Nancye Harris

1988-1990      Mrs Marika McLachlan

1991-2003      Mrs Margaret Shore

2003-                  Mrs Susan Bridge

 Building the school

Planning for the school began in 1956 and enrolments commenced for girls to begin in 1957. The building works were delayed and so the first enrolments commenced at Epping Boys High. Girls commenced at Cheltenham at the beginning of the new school year in 1958. Occupying what are now blocks A and B were 440 first year students and 120 second year. Miss Mitchell later recalled “it was quite chaotic when the school first began. The buildings were not complete – only about twelve rooms were finished and we had thirteen classes…”

 The school was opposed by a number of residents who objected to it being built in a residential area at all, and then objected to it taking the name of their suburb.

The first extra-curricular activities at the school were the Inter-School Christian Fellowship (ISCF), a chess club and the Red Cross. In the second term a play was performed in the Beecroft School of Arts. The first speech day was held in the Odeon Picture Theatre in Eastwood and the address was given by Sir Garfield Barwick, the local Federal Member and a resident of Cheltenham.

 The school matures

 In 1966 two events commenced that started to bring the broader community into school life. These were that the Old Girls Union held their first Annual Dinner at the Carlton Rex Hotel in the Sydney CBD and the first Art Award Exhibition was held by the Parents & Citizens Association.

 The first student news appeared in 1967 shortly to be followed by a Student Council established in 1969.

 The early 1970s was an era most remembered for stringent enforcement of school, uniform rules – especially gloves, hats and the length of a dress from the girl’s knees. Attire and music as Mrs Jessie Murray the school music teacher and choir mistress supreme led to new heights of achievement. The Linnet Girl’s Choir was a high achieving choir. Mrs Murray was awarded an MBE for her services to choral music.

 Under the next Principal, Miss Nancye Harris there were further advances in student participation in school activities and subjects shifted into the sciences and advanced mathematics. Prior support of Stewart House as a community activity supported by the school was further encouraged and Miss Harris took a   leadership role in educational circumstances equivalent to that of Miss Mitchell.

 Academic, artistic, debating and sporting achievements continued to grow. In 1975 one of the key points of recollection was how strong the school’s InterSchool Christian Fellowhip had grown. By 2008 this group changed its name to ‘Revolution’.

 In 2013 the school maintained its fine traditions in becoming one of the largest funding raising schools in Australia.

 In 2016 the school had its best ever results in the Higher School Certificate – building on many years of academic excellence. Years when a girls school, in the public system, which was comprehensive in who enrolled could yet again demonstrate its standing. 

 

[1] L Langtry In the pink: a 60 year history of Cheltenham Girls’ High School (Cheltenham Girls’ High School, Cheltenham, 2017) pp13-16.

   [2] H Barker & M Elven Houses of Hornsby Shire Vol 1 (Hornsby Shire Historical Society, Hornsby, 1989) pp 106-109; L Langtry In the pink: a 60 year history of Cheltenham Girls’ High School (Cheltenham Girls’ High School, Cheltenham, 2017) pp7, 14-15.

 

 
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