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Celebrating 130 years of Wenona

16 Aug 2016


In a special concert, Wenona celebrated the changing rights of women against a background of a changing local, national, and global landscape, in our 130-year celebration event.

Using images from the North Sydney Heritage Centre, the State Library of New South Wales, and material from the School archives, the concert traced the School’s early foundation on the newly populated North Shore, then known as St Leonards, through to the present day.

The School’s foundation in 1886 by Miss Edith Hooke is closely tied to the local and state history – being part of the independent schools boom of the late 1800s, ahead of the Peter Board reforms of 1910.

The School, founded not far from one of the area’s first cable tram stations near the then-named Union de Luxe Theatre, has strong links to the area’s cultural heritage.  

The narrative traced Wenona's involvement with the historic home Graythwaite, now owned by Shore School, where students attended an annual fete; the development of Long Gully Bridge between Cammeray and Northbridge, one of the world’s largest suspension bridges; and architect Sir Edmund Blacket’s Victorian gothic renovation of St Thomas’ Church, where students were educated in the early 1900s. 

The concert looked at the evolution of the 1921 School House, once a boarding residence known as Ernieville, which expanded and changed over the years. 

Bunkers were built under the playground through the WWII air raids, science labs were introduced with the Wyndham Scheme, and co-curricular programs were put in place as women took more prominent positions on the sporting field, in the corporate sector and on the stage. 

With help from former Deputy Principal, now School Archivist Mrs Michele Ginswick, History Teacher and Head of Community and Service Learning Ms Kate Seale and Head of Information and Library Services Miss Rosie Stevenson, the concert touched on the progression of women’s rights and female education.

It drew on the heritage of our longest serving Principal, who grew the school from 25 pupils in 1921, highlighting the new stock of strong women who, newly educated and independent from the war years, found meaning in a vocation, and inspired students to do the same. 

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