Blue Mountains Grammar School turns 100 in 2018, but if it was not for the visionary efforts of a former headmaster it might not be here today.
The school’s archivist Marlene Plummer paid tribute recently to the foresight of Reverend Albert Pitt-Owen who, in the 1950s when the school had moved from Springwood to Wentworth Falls, saw the need to purchase an 80 lot subdivision which was to become the school’s envied sporting facilities.
“We wouldn’t have the Sports centre, the sporting ovals, the entrance … it was his initiative,” Mrs Plummer told the Gazette.
She said Reverend Pitt-Owen encouraged the school’s parents and others to help purchase land to ensure its success. Mrs E. MacLaurin and Dr S. Ziele were two generous benefactors who would later help buy the 40 acres at the Wentworth Falls school site, which meant they also had room in the future to build a junior school and Performing Arts Centre.
A report in The Australian Church Record in 1956, recorded Pitt-Owen built the school up from a low of only three students in 1953 to “75 scholars in three years”.
“The growth and success of the school since that time have been remarkably encouraging,” the Record said.
Rev Pitt-Owen’s wife was behind the school’s successful daffodil drive – a flower still prolifically blooming on the grounds. In the years of Rev Pitt Owen the school also survived a large bushfire, according to a newspaper report at the time, when 60 boys ran more than a mile from the school through burnt-out bush to safety.
The Independent private Anglican school kicked off a year of centenary celebrations last month with a thanksgiving service at Christ Church, Springwood. It marked the school’s foundation as a boys boarding school in Springwood in 1918, where it continued until moving to Wentworth Falls in 1951. It became fully co-educational in 1976.
The school has invited the community and alumni to become involved in the centenary events, especially the Spring Fair on September 15 – which has not been held for more than three years. Details are on the school’s and alumni’s Facebook page.
Mrs Plummer is busy collating donations of uniforms and records to put on display for the year’s events and hopes to run a walking tour during the Spring Fair, to explain the historical significance of the school’s many buildings, named after individuals who helped ensure the school’s longevity.
The school now has more than 600 students at its two campuses. The 11th headmaster, Trevor Barman, said the year was “a perfect opportunity to showcase the present and the future, against the backdrop of the past”.