St Mary's School for Girls - New location, new name
In Waverley, there are a handful of houses, one designed by Herbert Baker and built some years earlier for use by the general manager of the railways. There is a reservoir, which St Mary’s girls apparently take to swimming in, a market garden and a pig farm.
For everyone, girls and teachers alike, it is a move into the wide open spaces and a new and exhilarating experience – for the teachers from the Old World, particularly so.
When they arrive there is no running water or electricity on the property, although it is possible that to access municipal services, the school manages to get the municipal boundaries redrawn, explaining why the school’s address is Highlands North Extension and not Waverley. The electricity, when it is attached, is not very reliable, particularly when the area is hit by thunderstorms and the school is plunged into darkness.
The girls have lessons in hastily erected classrooms, built by Miss Darke and a man servant. The structures don’t give much protection against the elements or the local wildlife: bees, ants, snakes and scorpions. The stable is converted into a chapel, the live-in teachers move into one of the wood-and-iron structures found on the property and the boarders are housed in a private home.
As the buildings rise, it can be seen that the architects have been guided by two imperatives: the art deco style which is all the rage, and financial constraints.
When the south and east wings are sufficiently complete, the boarders move in. The facilities are basic and Spartan. There are scorpions in the basins, the floors are bare and the rooms icy in winter. There is no glass in the windows and the rain sometimes sprays onto the beds. Through them they can glimpse, in the distance, the few buildings that constitute Rosebank. The windows through which they peer, appear time and again in photographs through the years.
To offset these hardships, the boarders go for rambles in the grounds, play tennis, netball and hockey – and for a short time cricket and lacrosse – and love the services in the little stable chapel.
The new beginning calls for a new name, and St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls becomes St Mary’s School for Girls. A Board of Directors replaces the Governing Body.