Geelong Grammar School began with fourteen boys in 1855 in Geelong, then a thriving frontier town of some 20,000 persons. It was founded under the auspices of the Church of England, later to become the Anglican Church in Australia. From the outset the School developed a distinctive flavour, stemming from the interaction of strong English boarding school traditions with the free-wheeling and egalitarian social forces that were typical of the young Australian colony.
After outgrowing a number of smaller sites the School moved on 15 April 1858 to its new building on a large block bounded by Moorabool, McKillop, Yarra and Maude Streets. Here the School was situated in handsome new buildings on a ridge to the south of the town, between a busy harbour and a quiet river.
On 3rd April 1913 the governor-general, Lord Denman laid the foundation stone of Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Corio. From its 22 scattered acres in South Geelong the School moved to its new 262 acres site at Corio in 1914. The new property stretched from Limeburners’ Bay to the railway station at Cowie – a name that was changed to Corio once the school had given the place a new identity.
The move was as much initiated by the desire to provide a learning and living environment for students in a “village community” with staff and their families, relatively isolated from the distractions of the town, as it was by the need to accommodate rapidly increasing numbers, particularly boarders. Corio’s extensive lands and its situation on a sheltered inlet provided unparalleled opportunities for all sports, including rowing, sea bathing and sailing. It was an almost entirely self-contained community having its own railway station, fire brigade, farm and sanatorium and resident doctor. The spiritual life of the School centred around the magnificent Chapel of All Saints. Until 1922 when a bus was chartered, students from Geelong came to and from school across the bay by the motorboat Avalon.
No longer the local school of its original foundation and with access by road and railway much easier than before, the School became linked more and more strongly to Melbourne. Country and interstate enrolments increased dramatically. The school’s pastoral base was strengthened. Then in 1915 the sons of Melbourne business and professional men came in a rush. Its new buildings, its new site and its elite tradition attracted fresh attention right across Australia.
An international dimension developed at the School with the first overseas student arriving in 1947. Today there are more than 1500 girls and boys from all states of Australia and some 20 different countries around the world at the School.
Glamorgan, in Toorak, had a long history of its own before it became part of Geelong Grammar School. The school, which was founded in 1887, had acted as the chief Melbourne preparatory school for Geelong Grammar for some time before coming under its auspices in 1947.
In Geelong the School has had its own junior school for over fifty years. The old Bostock House was located at Aberdeen Street from 1933-61, and in 1962 it re-settled at Highton and spent 35 years as a much-loved part of Geelong's primary education. In 1998 students were transferred from Highton to the new Bostock House at Noble Street, Newtown for Years ELC to 4, and to the Middle School at Corio for Years 5 to 8.
In 1953 the Timbertop campus was established in the foothills of the Victorian Alps near Mansfield. Recognised worldwide for its educational innovation and a unique feature of the Geelong Grammar School experience, Timbertop offered a yearlong academic and outdoor education experience, which attracted perhaps the School's most famous Old Geelong Grammarian, HRH The Prince of Wales, who attended Timbertop in 1966.
Without doubt one of the most significant milestones in the School’s history occurred in the early 1970’s when it became coeducational. Church of England Girls' Grammar School, "The Hermitage" Geelong, was founded in 1906 to provide in Geelong a school for girls with ideals similar to those of Geelong Grammar School. The school moved to Highton in 1973 and in 1976 amalgamated with GGs and Clyde School.
Clyde School was founded in 1910 in St Kilda and moved to Braemar House, Mt Macedon in 1919. In 1975 it was decided that Clyde could no longer continue without charging exorbitant and preclusive fees and so it was amalgamated with Geelong Grammar School and transferred to Corio in 1976.
The Geelong Grammar of today, while obviously different to the small boys’ school of the last century, retains many of its original characteristics: its commitment to each and every student, to academic challenge and the ethos of the development of the “whole person”; the pastoral care provided by the residential community of staff and students; the diversity of sport and recreational opportunities; the spiritual dimension central to the life of the School community and the commitment to service and the public good.
We wish to acknowledge the help of the following for making this current feature possible:
Mr Michael Collins Persse (GGS Archivist)
Ms Maria Hamilton (Director of Community Relations at GGS)
Mr Quimby Mills (GGS Community Relations)
Dr John Darling (GGS Alumni)
Ms Sara Darling (ANME Management Committee)