Heritage Underpinning Accomplishment

This year we celebrate 175 years as a leading educator, equipping students with the skills they will need to love learning, question and think critically throughout their life. Our School was founded at a time when Launceston was described as ‘a small town with a population of about 8 000 people’. Today, it is a thriving and diverse community built upon the determination and spirit of its people.

Our history has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to and compassion for the community both here and overseas. During the First World War, Launceston Church Grammar School showed its loyalty to the Empire by providing the highest number of soldiers for its size of any Australian school.

Please join with us throughout the year as we mark 175 years with a programme that commemorates our past and celebrates our present with a collection of activities that recognise what our School means to every community member. We will showcase many of the outstanding achievements through the years.

We are Australia’s oldest continuously operated independent school, giving the gift of outstanding learners and leaders since 1846.

Nigel Bailey, Chair, Launceston Church Grammar School Board

Honouring, Celebrating, Imagining

We are delighted to present an exciting programme of activities as we recognise and celebrate our 175th. As the oldest continually running independent school in Australia, this is a significant milestone and opportunity for the School community to honour our past, celebrate who we are today and imagine together who we will become.

Throughout 2021 we will endeavour to welcome back to our School alumni and past parents and I encourage you to participate in a range of activities which feature for our community. Each event will provide an opportunity for us to reflect on the School’s great story and to consider the part we can each play in continuing to contribute to the School’s future. I look forward to joining with you for these upcoming celebrations.

Many colourful and lively characters have walked our halls and shared our classrooms and those captivating memories and stories have partly shaped who we are today. Throughout 2021 we will be featuring on this website a selection of favourite or lasting memories provided to us by current and past students, alumni, parents, teachers and friends of the School. We will be sharing their stories throughout the year.

As Headmaster it is a privilege to be part of a School delivering excellence in education for young learners and leaders who contribute to and shape our dynamic School and world.

Richard Ford, Headmaster

Our History

Launceston Grammar is the oldest continuously operating independent school in Australia. The School’s journey has, at times, been challenging, but it has always been inspiring. Join us on our adventure through the decades.

School History in Decades - 19th Century

1840s

The 1840s saw the founding of Launceston Church Grammar School. At first the school did not have an official name and was known as either Church Grammar School or as Launceston Grammar School (even though another school already was using this name).

Launceston Grammar School 1937 By Austin Platt Source

 

On June 15 1846, Launceston Church Grammar School opened its doors with 24 boys enrolled. The School was situated in a rented house on the South East corner of George and Elizabeth Streets. Construction of a permanent building on Elizabeth street soon began.

The first Headmaster, Rev. Henry Kane’s time as Headmaster was almost cut short in June 1847 when his boat capsized on the Tamar and a strong current almost caused him to drown. Fortunately he and his family were rescued and he would go on to see the completion of the Elizabeth Street building in 1848.

Rev. Henry Kane
Rev. Henry Kane Source

 

1850s

During the 1850s the gold rush in Victoria and the end of transportation and Tasmania’s independence all shaped Launceston and Launceston Grammar. Despite the drop in Tasmania’s population caused by the gold rush, the School did manage to grow to an average of 40 students a year. This meant a new schoolroom was needed.

In 1851, Victorian cricketers were visiting Launceston as part of the first intercolonial cricket match (Tasmania would defeat them by 3 wickets). They donated £5, which alongside the generous fundraising by the ‘ladies of the trustees’ allowed the building work to occur.

 

School in the 1950’s Source

By 1858 the School  built a gymnasium, offered a wide range of subjects and had ensured they had high quality teachers including renown naturalist Ronald Gunn, establishing a secure foundation for the School’s future.

Ronald Gunn Source
1860s

In January 1860, Kane resigned and Rev. Fredrick Quilter was appointed to the role. He would resign in 1863 due to poor health and be replaced by Rev. Warren Brooke.

Rev Dr Frederick William Quilter Source

 

Brooke did not get on with all the trustees of the school or the parents or the Anglican Church, due to his doctrinal disagreements with the Bishop. However, many students remembered him as being a just and fair Headmaster and the boarders enjoyed being taken up to Cataract Gorge for a swim before breakfast.

In 1870, the School would see its first first-class Associate of Art (an award between a TCE and a BA) received by Ernest Gatenby. Despite this success the combination of the disputes with the trustees, the unhappiness from parents with changes he made to the timetable and an economic depression which had hit Tasmania in the 1860s meant that student numbers dropped to 29 in 1870 and led to Brooke’s resignation in 1971.

Rev. Warren Brooke
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church  Grammar School 1846-1996

1870s

In 1971, Rev. William Savigny took over as Headmaster. He was quick to secure funding to repair the School and rent more land for sports.

Rev William Savigny
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

In 1872, Savigny took the progressive step of employing a woman, Miss Bolton, at the all-boys school. He also ensured that the School played a larger role in the community by making them more welcoming to the public and ensuring they were impressively decorated and well presented.

Savigny also introduced several traditions to Launceston Grammar, including the school colours of blue, black and white, and the first school motto, Mos Patrius Disciplina’, meaning ‘the custom and training of our forefathers’. Sport, especially cricket, played a larger role within the school with the arrival of Assistant Master Edward Nathan.

In 1876, the railway connecting Launceston to Hobart was completed and a game against Hobart High School was held, with Launceston Grammar winning by 30 runs. Launceston Grammar would go on to create a formidable reputation with cricket and other sports.

1877 LCGS Cricket Team
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996
1880s

By the 1880s Launceston Grammar achieved nationwide recognition as 7 per cent of its students were from mainland Australia. The School built upon its successes from the 1870s, and was aided by a coal mining boom which saw Launceston flourish. The School increased its size, building a pavilion, a new classroom and a carpenter’s shop.

Sadly, in 1884, Nathan left his teaching position and opened Launceston High School. In 1885, Savigny suffered a stroke and retired in June. Rev. Arthur Champion took over the position of Headmaster and promised to run the School in the same way as Savigny, which could be seen through Launceston Grammar’s academic successes. From 1886 to 1891 Launceston Grammar had 11 Associate of Art and 5 Tasmanian Scholarships.

Rev. Arthur Champion
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church  Grammar School 1846-1996

 

Rowing was introduced to Launceston Grammar in 1887, thanks to Tamar Rowing Club and in 1888, the Bourke Cup was created. Launceston Grammar received this for the first time in 1889 against their new rivals at Launceston High School.

The first Grammar crew to win the Bourke Cup, 1889. Standing Harold Lee, Mr JA Bain (coach), Sydney Luttrell. Seated; Leopold von Bibra, Ernest Ritchie, Frank von Bibra.
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996
1890s

The 1890s saw the economic boom of the 1880s replaced with a severe depression. This caused Launceston Grammar’s numbers to drop to 53 in 1895 and lose its dominate position in both academic and sporting circles.

There were rumours that Launceston Grammar would close, forcing the School to put an advert in the Examiner reassuring the public this was not true.

The Headmaster, Champion, decided he wished to leave in 1895 and was replaced by Rev. Christopher Wilkinson and Harry Gillett. Together they formed a formidable team and were well suited to revive Launceston Grammar.

The pair introduced Launceston Grammar’s school crest, and re-established the Grammar Cadets ensuring that they would play a central role with community events such as the 1896 jubilee. A carnival was held on  November 17, 1896 which had musical acts, stalls, flowers, an exhibit demonstrating x-rays and bicycles, both new inventions.

School Crest from 1920’s Cigarette Card (personal photo)

 

By the end of the 1890s Launceston Grammar had reclaimed its position in Tasmanian sports, winning the Bourke Cup in 1897, 1898 and 1900, as well as the School football premiership in 1897 and 1900. All these successes ensured that Launceston Grammar’s numbers rose and by 1899 it reached 150 students.

Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

School History in Decades - 20th Century

1900s

1900 – 1910 was a significant decade for Launceston Grammar. The first major event was the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899, in which Frank Warner, Arthur Sale and Gustav Weber, former students of Launceston Grammar, lost their lives.

Arthur Sale Source

 

There was also an outbreak of smallpox in Launceston in 1903. To protect students Gillett took the boarders to Horton College in Ross, whilst Wilkinson remained in Launceston to teach the day boys. Fortunately, the School did not have any cases and by 1904 the epidemic had ended.

Old Boys of Launceston Grammar saw success in 1901 with the federation of Australia. John Clemons and Cyril Cameron were elected to the Senate, and William Hartnoll to the House of Representatives.

In 1905, the School magazine, the Launcestonian, made its debut and by 1908 Launceston Grammar had modernised its gym, built three new classrooms, built a Chemistry lab and a photography darkroom.

1909 has also been called Grammar’s greatest sporting year due to their victories’ in cricket, football, rowing, swimming and shooting. By the end of the decade the School had an average of 145 students.

 

John Clemons Source

 

Cyril Cameron Source

 

William Hartnoll Source
1910s

World War One dominated the world’s attention in the 1910s and for Launceston Grammar it was no different. 504 Old Boys would volunteer and fight during the war with 97 of them being killed in the conflict. The bravery of these former students can be noted with the long list of medals which they received including but not limited to; 35 Military Crosses, 12 Military Service Medals and 6 Distinguished Service medals. These men would go on to be honoured in the School’s Chapel after its construction.

Gunner Reg Davis and Private Edward Brain – Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

The students assisted the war efforts any way they could and many of them joined the cadet corps. The Commonwealth Government recognised the service of the School by presenting them with a captured German machine gun.

The decade saw the long serving Co-Headmasters Gillett retire in 1915 and Wilkinson in 1918. Rev. John Bethune would take over the role as Headmaster in 1919 and it was decided there was no need for him to have a Co-Headmaster.

Unfortunately for Bethune and for Launceston Grammar, the Spanish Flu (H1N1 Influenza A) reached Tasmania in 1919 and on August 16 the government ordered schools, churches, theatres and halls closed. Launceston Grammar would remain closed until 1920 but thankfully none of its pupils were amongst the 140 Tasmanian lives killed by the flu.

Spanish Flu Doctors Source

 

Tasmanian Quarantine Station Source
1920s

The 1920s were a calmer period for Launceston Grammar and one of growth and change. The biggest change
was the move of the School to Stephenson’s farm at Mowbray in 1920.

New School Site Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

In 1923, after much fundraising, the foundation stone of the new School building was laid by Prime Minister Stanley Bruce.

Prime Minister S.M. Bruce laying the foundation stone of the new school, 1923
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

The students would even help with some elements of the construction. By the end, the School would have new classrooms, boarding accommodation, a sick bay, tuck shop, gymnasium, carpenter’s shop, as well as tennis courts, an oval and a swimming pool.

Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

The move was needed due to the lack of space for the boarders, limited sporting grounds and to escape the threat of disease outbreaks (there were flu epidemics in 1920, 1921 and 1923).

Not only did the School gain a new site, but the School Houses were introduced, named after former Headmasters, Savigny, Gillett, Wilkinson. Hawkes was named after a benefactor.

The Savigny Bat was also introduced toLaunceston Grammar after the sad passing of cricket coach, Jack Savigny. This bat is awarded to the student with the highest average runs each season. By the end of the decade, having seen ensured a new future for the School, Bethune resigned from his position as Headmaster.

The Savigny Bat Source
1930s

The Great Depression, which dominated the 1930s, had a severe impact on Launceston Grammar. Unemployment in Tasmania would reach as high as 27 per cent with many families struggling to get by. As a result the number of students attending Launceston Grammar decreased to less than 100 and the number of boarders dropped from 100 to 43.

This was an especially challenging time for the new Headmaster, Fredrick Adams. He would be forced to cut wages (including his own), end some extra-curricular programmes and try to get support from local business to allow the School to remain open.

LCGS Chapel
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

However, the Depression meant that the School Chapel could be constructed at a lower cost, whilst still helping stimulate the local economy. The Chapel would include a memorial to the Old Boys who had lost their lives in wartime in the entrance way. Eight stones from highly regarded English public schools were incorporated into the building, reinforcing Launceston Grammar’s tradition and heritage.

Adams resigned in 1935 and Norman Roff became Headmaster. Roff would introduce a standard uniform to the School, which consisted of a grey suit, blue shirt and School tie and cap.

LCGS School Prefects 1939
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

By the late 1930s, the Great Depression was lessening and Launceston Grammar’s situation was improving.

1940s

In 1940, Headmaster Roff had to make a tough choice; continue as Headmaster or enlist in the AIF. He choose the latter, joining the 2/40 Battalion as a captain of a company that included Old Boys Roy Gatenby, Gratton Horne and Robert Truskett.

Sadly, Roff, Gatenby and Truskett were all killed in Timor in February 1942 during the Japanese invasion. Horne and several Old Boys were captured, but tragically they too would not return home.

Grave of Captain Norman Roff
Source
Memorial of Norman Roff
Source

 

A total of 592 Old Boys would serve during the war, of which 46 died. Others would return after spending time as prisoners of war or having been wounded in action.

1944 LCGS Cadets
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

Due to war rations, the School and students often struggled to access necessities. For example, a male would receive 120 clothing coupons a year but a suit would cost 60. This meant families had to share resources and trade with each other.

Unsurprisingly, the cadets grew in numbers and were dressed in khaki and trained in trench warfare and signalling. The students assisted the war efforts any way they could.

The end of the war brought the School’s centenary, which began with a service in the School Chapel that was filmed and broadcasted around Australia. Other celebrations included an open day, a Centenary Ball and the laying of the foundation stone for the Assembly Hall.

 

1950s

Between 1952 – 1958 Basil Travers was the Headmaster of the School and introduced a wide range of clubs for the boys to expand their interests. These included photography, drama, boating and music.

Travers and the Prefects 1957
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

Launceston Grammar managed to win the Head-of-River in 1954, 1955 and in 1956, which meant it was awarded the Golden Fleece Cup for the first time in 34 years.

LCGS Boat Club 1955
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

The School was quick to embrace the polio vaccine which was introduced in 1956. Periodically, Launceston Grammar had dealt with polio outbreaks in Launceston, but fortunately the vaccine would bring an end to this problem.

Improvements in transport during the 1950s meant that Launceston Grammar was now able organise trips to the mainland. These included the cricket team’s trip to Melbourne in 1954, a school trip to Canberra in 1955 (which became an annual event) and visiting the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. For many of the students this was their first time on an aeroplane.

LCGS Cricket Team 1954
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996
1960s

A new Headmaster (Don Selth) arrived in 1959 and one of his first priorities was the construction of the Warren MacDonald Science Block to improve academic results.

Warren MacDonald Science Building 1962
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

Another important innovation was the introduction of the Outdoor Education programme. Launceston Grammar was the second school in Australia to introduce such a programme and soon, with student help, a new hut was constructed at Mount Arthur.

Mt Arthur Hut
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

In 1961, a grand ceremony was held when the School was visited by Prime Minister Robert Menzies to open the Gordon Rolph Sports Pavilion. Accounts record that Menzies gave an interesting speech decrying uniformity.

Robert Menzies 1961
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

The foundations for the Walkathon were laid in 1963, after being inspired by President Kennedy’s statement that all Americans should be able to walk 50 miles in 20 hours. It was a huge success, with 31 boys completing the 50 mile walk, but it did not become an annual tradition until 1978.

Other major changes during 1960s included updating the school uniform, creating the newest School Houses of Roff and Fraser and the creation of the student magazine Kalori.

 

1970s

The 1970s were a time of trouble for the independent schools of Launceston. Alongside global inflation rates and the recession which hit Australia, there was also increased competition from state schools which caused Launceston Grammar’s numbers to plummet.

A radical change was suggested by the new Headmaster, Robert Hutchings, to make Launceston Grammar co-educational. Seven girls joined the School in 1972 as a trial, which proved to be a huge success. The following year Launceston Grammar was officially co-educational and by 1978 there were 97 girls attending the School. This decision helped rescue the School from its finical problems and proved to better prepare the students for life after school.

LCGS Netball and Badminton Teams 1972
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996
Typing Class
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

It wasn’t just the student population which changed, but also the staff. In 1971, all members of staff were male, but by 1974 there were four female staff members.

LCGS Staff 1976
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

1975 sadly saw the end of Launceston Grammar’s cadets. Government funding had stopped and the equipment was too expensive to maintain. It also saw the end of the school newspaper, Kalori.

LCGS Cadets 1976
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

1980s

In 1980, the school received a new Headmaster, Christopher Strong, who would oversee Launceston Grammar’s biggest change, the amalgamation with the all-girls school Broadland House.

Broadland House Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

Broadland was similar to Launceston Grammar in many ways. It too was an Anglican School and could trace its origins to 1845 (one year older than Launceston Grammar). The two Schools had always had a good relationship with each other and like Launceston Grammar, Broadland had too struggled in the 1970s. The difference was that Broadland was unable to recover and so in 1982, it was decided that it would amalgamate with Launceston Grammar. This expanded Launceston Grammar’s numbers and sites. The Broadland Campus soon became the new home to the junior school.

Amalgamation 1983
Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

In the mid-1980s, Launceston Grammar became a sister school to the Owada High School in Japan, as well as increasing the number of exchange students from Europe Asia and America. Soon there were annual visits between Launceston Grammar and Owada students, expanding the students’ experiences of other cultures around the world.

Alexander, A. (1996). Blue, Black and White: The history of the Launceston Church Grammar School 1846-1996

 

By 1988, the School had created specialised rooms for Home Economics, Computing, and Technical Drawing and supplied the latest equipment for electronics, robotics, and computer graphics, keeping its curriculum ahead of many other schools.

1990s

In 1996, Launceston Grammar celebrated a considerable achievement in reaching 150 years. The Sesquicentenary was celebrated in style. In April, the School held a birthday party, the whole-school photograph, a special evening of music and a dinner at the Albert Hall. These were wonderful events to commence celebrations. Events continued throughout the year with the Founders’ Day Service in June, which brought together so many friends of Launceston Grammar.

The Sesquicentenary Challenge Campaign under the leadership of Campaign Chairman, Jack Bain was a wonderful success, reaching well beyond its target of $1.6 million. The Campaign had two major projects, the completion of the Chapel and the commencement of the Sports and PE Centre. One of the special events for the year was the dedication of the School Chapel extension on 27 October. Over 60 years of being incomplete, it was a special occasion shared by over 350 people.

150th Celebration

School History in Decades - 21st Century

2000s

The 2000s was a strong era for Launceston Grammar. In 2001, the School finished the year with a Top Ten award in The Australian Newspaper’s Best Schools in Australia Project. This was an honour Launceston Grammar held throughout most of the decade.

Sport was also strong in the 2000s. In 2000, the senior sporting teams won six northern premierships: Cricket Second XI, Hockey Girls First and Second, Netball Firsts and Soccer First and Second.

The 2000s produced two Australian Cricketers in George Bailey and James Faulkner.

In 2006, the inaugural Launceston Grammar Christmas Camp was held over three days at the end of the year. This was a truly uplifting event, with student carers working so effectively with the special guests – young people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

On December 11, 2008 the Swimming Pool was opened.

2010s

In 2012, Launceston Grammar created a tax-deductible Scholarship Fund to provide more opportunities for students to attend Launceston Grammar and experience a supportive and challenging learning environment.

In 2013, a major highlight was the official opening of the pavilion at Stephenson’s Bend and the renaming of the grounds to Faulkner Park. The support of the Faulkner Family and Launceston Grammar community has been invaluable in providing a world-class sporting facility for staff, students and the local Launceston community.

 

In 2015, Launceston Grammar awarded the inaugural Peter Sculthorpe Alumnus Award to Dr Stephen Fitzgerald AO, Class of 1956. The award originated to bring back to the School an eminent former scholar from Broadland or Launceston Grammar to receive an award in the name of eminent Old Launcestonian, the late Peter Sculthorpe AO, to be reintroduced to their alma mater and most importantly to be introduced to the students of today for them to listen and learn from.

The new Senior Campus function space, Café 1846 was officially opened by the Headmaster, Mr Richard Ford on Friday 8 February, 2019. The project would not have been possible without the support of the community. The Café 1846 space quickly became one of the most widely used facilities at the School as it is used daily as a breakout teaching space, for staff gatherings, sheltered space for students at recess and lunch, viewing area of the main oval for sports events and for School community events.

In 2017, the Broadland House Chapel Window was dedicated. The Broadland House Old Girls Association, led by Mrs Dona Bradley, were tremendous in achieving an outcome that strengthens the bond between the two Schools.

 

2018 saw the construction of a two-kilometre, professionally constructed and surfaced mountain bike track on the banks of the School.

 

 

 

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