Newington College was founded in 1863.
Founding the College
Newington College was founded in 1863. It was established as a result of a growing view in the Wesleyan Methodist Church that an institution higher than elementary school was needed in Sydney. Rev John Allen Manton (1807–1864) was its leading advocate and the College’s first president.
Newington House was the former home of colonial merchant and landowner John Blaxland, on the banks of the Parramatta River at Silverwater. The College opened its doors on 16 July 1863 with 16 students aged between seven and sixteen. The College was conceived as ‘…decidedly Wesleyan in its character [but] … open to the sons of parents of all religious denominations.’ The College also functioned as the home for theological training for the Methodist Church in NSW until 1914.
Moving to Stanmore
The need for a larger and permanent home for the College resulted in the decision to move to land bequeathed to the Church at Stanmore in Sydney’s Inner West. The Founders Building, designed by leading colonial architect Thomas Rowe, was built between 1874 and 1880. Seventy boys and four theological students moved from Silverwater in July 1880 and the new school, now named ‘Newington College’, was formally opened on 18 January 1881.
To chronicle the prowess of the athlete and the distinctions of the scholar
The College continued to grow during the following decades. Some boys undertook a classical education while a growing proportion went on to study at Sydney University, the city’s only university at the time. Others, particularly boys destined for a career in business, studied in the ‘modern’ stream and many country boys spent a couple of years at the College to finish their education before starting working on the land.
Cricket, rugby and other sports were played from the beginning, with Newington and The King’s School playing the first inter-school Rugby match in 1870. Newington joined the newly established Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales (AAGPS) in 1892. With one of the oldest school cadet units in the country—established in 1869—rifle shooting was as prominent as cricket and rugby in the years leading up to the First World War. The College was late in adopting rowing as a sport, but made a spectacular debut winning the Head of the River in 1921.
The College’s magazine, The Newingtonian, began in 1884 and the alumni association—the Old Newingtonians’ Union—was established in 1895.
The Newingtonian, No. LXIV, Sept 1900, p. 478
"We are, with seven wins, one loss, and a total of 163 points to 17, this year's School Premiers. We have an exceptionally fine team, and we doubt if the standard of football reached this year has ever been excelled by any Newington team."
The World Wars
Approximately 650 former students and staff members served in Australia’s armed forces during the First World War. Of these 111 are known to have been killed. In the Second World War 818 served, of whom 60 are known to have given their lives.
Like most independent schools, Newington College was affected by the Depression. From 335 students in 1925, enrolments dropped to 260 in 1932 and remained at around that level for the rest of the 1930s. The College sought to attract new enrolments by improving facilities and in 1938, Wyvern House, the biggest building project since the Founders Wing became the College’s Preparatory School. In 1932 a standardised school uniform was adopted and a House system was introduced.
Post War Expansion
The College grew rapidly in the years following the Second World War, reaching 600 boys in 1952 and 970 by 1960. This growth was accompanied by a succession of building projects during the 1950s and early 1960s which transformed the school landscape and the quality of facilities. A second Preparatory School opened at Killara on Sydney’s North Shore in 1957 and moved to its present site in neighbouring Lindfield in 1967.
To the Sesquicentenary and beyond
In the 1970s and 1980s, academic and sporting achievements were joined by a growing emphasis on cultural activities, particularly in the performing arts and on service activities leading to the rich variety of experience that characterises school life today. At the same time the cultural background of the student body changed as a reflection of Australia’s increasingly multicultural society.
In 1998 the Wyvern House Preparatory School moved to a purpose-build campus in nearby Cambridge Street, Stanmore. Newington achieved accreditation to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in 2007, with the first cohort gaining their IB Diploma in 2009.
Newington celebrated its 150th birthday—or ‘Sesquicentenary’—in 2013, with a packed program of assemblies, services, concerts, sports matches and other events, including the opening of the AJ Rae and the LRD Pyke Centres by Her Excellency, Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of NSW. Three years later, Newington joined with its brother school in Tonga, Tupou College, to celebrate its own Sesquicentenary. Two more excellent facilities, the Tupou College Centre for Year 7 and the Drama Centre, were opened by His Majesty King Tupou Vi of Tonga in July 2016.
A Sesquicentenary History
This history of Newington College, commissioned for the 150th anniversary in 2013, stands upon the shoulders of Newington’s past historians. And yet it is a new history, and takes a somewhat different tack from previous histories. The book was authored by Sydney based public historian Dr Stephen Gapps. The book is filled will rare photos, intriguing documents and fascinating stories that chronicle the full 150 years of Newington College.
Newington College: A Sesquicentenary History 1863 - 2013 by Dr Stephen Gapps
About the Author
Dr Stephen Gapps is a Sydney based public historian and museum curator. He has worked extensively as a professional historian on a variety of oral and written history projects ranging from histories of pastoral sheep and cattle stations, to Sydney pubs and deserted gold mining towns and now to the Newington College Sesquicentenary publication. Dr Gapps was the Winner of the NSW Premier’s History Awards 2011 – Community or Regional History, for his book Cabrogal to Fairfield: A history of Fairfield City. Other publications include Front pages that shaped Australia: 100 of the nation’s most influential cover stories and newspaper headlines.
100 Years of Anzac
The Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign and the sacrifices of some 650 Newingtonians who served — and 111 who fell — in the First World War
Living Links to Newington's Fallen Soldiers
A highlight of the College’s Centenary of Anzac Day commemoration on 29 April 2015 was a moving ceremony in which relatives of our Fallen soldiers placed poppies on the College's Great War Honour Roll.
The College Archives
Newington’s archives are our corporate memory, forming the bridge between our past, present and future. The archives are authentic documentary evidence of the work and life of our College and community over more than 150 years.
Contact the Archivist
Got a question for the Archivist? if you would like to donate material or make an enquiry, please fill in the form below.
Enquiries are welcome from members of the Newington community and beyond. For this service, a donation of $30 is requested. An additional amount may be requested if the enquiry requires substantial research or copying costs.
Two of a Kind
David Roberts is the College’s inaugural professional Archivist. Dr Roger Davidson (ON 1940) is the Archives’ ‘foreman’.
The Newingtonian Digitised
The Newingtonian has been chronicling the lives and achievements of boys and staff since 1884. A project to digitise The Newingtonian, nearing completion, will make this wonderful resource available online.