Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group

Arden Anglican School

Arden School commenced in 1922 as a preparatory school for the Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Croydon, arising from the initiative of the Beecroft Presbyterian Church and commenced in the Beecroft Presbyterian Church Hall in Welham Street. Initially it had 13 students. Its first principal was Mrs Eleanor Linck who had previously been teaching in England. [1] By 1923 there were 49 students but it was not financially viable. The lack of viability was in part from a failure by the Council to support Mrs Linck’s proposals to expand the school into its own premises. Proposals supported by growing enrolments. In 1927 Mrs Linck became the principal of a new school called Orange Presbyterian Ladies College. [2] Mrs Lucy I Ritter became the principal.

In 1929 the PLC Council sold the school to Miss Emily Gurney (formerly a teacher of the school) who continued to operate from the church hall but renamed the school Arden, as the leafy surroundings of Beecroft reminded her of the Forest of Arden from Shakespeare’s play ‘As You Like It’.[3] By 1933 it was registered to cover the full primary curriculum.

When Miss L. Windridge took over as principal in 1939 the school was again in financial difficulty and under threat of closure. Miss Windridge approached Canon Roderick Johnstone, the Rector of St John’s Beecroft, and a member of the Council for the Promotion of Sydney Church of England Diocesan Schools, who had expressed the idea that there should be a Church of England school in the area. The Council took over and managed the school. So in 1946, Arden Church of England Girls’ School was established and moved to St John’s Anglican Church, occupying the Sunday School Hall. It was not until 1952 that Arden established itself at 39 Railway Parade, later renamed Wongala Crescent, with the purchase of Nelson House assisted by a gift of three thousand pounds from Mr C.O.Nelson. However, the school continued to have problems in attracting numbers and retaining principals and the Diocesan Council resolved to close the school at the end of 1959, concerned that it was in debt. This was rescinded due to the determination of Canon Johnstone and the parent body. The school became more firmly established with its own Council in 1962. Under the leadership of Miss M. Hudson (1965 – 1972) a high educational standard was a focus.

Miss Margaret Duckworth began a 20-year period as the first non-teaching Principal in 1972. During this time the school expanded, acquiring adjacent properties and undertaking a building program. Among the properties purchased was 63 Beecroft Road (Cook House) a notable Beecroft home designed by George Sydney Jones in 1909 as a home and medical practice. Boys were part of the school until grade 3 but since 1976 it has been entirely co-educational.

Mr Colin May FACE, Principal 1992 – 2009, oversaw the opening of a secondary campus at Epping, when the former site of the Australian American International School in Oxford Street was purchased. Secondary classes began operation there in 2003. Also in 2008 a new senior campus was commenced in office buildings nearby in Epping. During his leadership the school undertook its greatest expansion. The first students studying to HSC level graduated in 2008. 

Graham Anderson became principal in 2009. Arden Anglican School is an institution based on strong Christian values, apparent in its motto ‘In God my joy’, and offering a co-educational program from pre-school to secondary.  Of the many small private schools founded in Beecroft early in the 20th century, Arden is the only survivor.

 

[1] Tweed Daily 5 September 1922; Sydney Morning Herald 16 December 1922; Cumberland Argus and Fruit Growers Advocate 16 December 1922.

[2] Wellington Times 29 September 1927.

[3] McFarlane, J “Reform Rejected: 1920-1929” in The Golden Hope: Presbyterian Ladies College   

 

 

 

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