Toorak College School History
Our Early Beginnings
So why is a school in Mount Eliza called Toorak College?
Toorak College was first established in 1874 as a boys’ school in the Melbourne suburb of Toorak. In 1897, Toorak College was converted into a girls’ school by its first female Principal, Miss Margaret Tripp. In 1919, we moved to more spacious buildings and grounds on Glenferrie Road.
Promising Growth with a New Sporting Focus
When Miss Ellen Pye became Principal in 1898, only 18 girls were enrolled and no team sports were played. By the time she left in 1907, over 100 students were enrolled and several sports teams had formed, including tennis, rowing and hockey.
Miss Pye also established an annual sports day, chose our crest and introduced our motto, ‘in labore quies’ which means ‘in work is the true rest of life’.
A Turbulent Two Years
In 1926, co-principals, Miss Isabel Hamilton and Miss Robina Hamilton sold the Glenferrie property with a view to establish a small school in the countryside reminiscent of the English model.
However, after negotiations for a new site fell through, their plan was abandoned. The school was set to close. Forever.
It didn’t take long for a passionate group of parents, students and old girls to begin an appeal to save the school. Thankfully, their efforts paid off. Land was soon purchased in Mount Eliza and plans for a new school were drawn up.
In September 1928, our first assembly was held at the newly-built school in Mount Eliza.
‘The Elephant’ was Born
A wooden building was transported to the new site in Mt Eliza. On hearing this news, school parent, Mr Russell, was said to have exclaimed, “You are surely not taking that white elephant!”
The name ‘The Elephant’ stuck and that same building was used for the next 40 years as an assembly hall, classroom and theatre (until it was demolished in 1972). The name now lives on in our bi-annual school publication, ‘The Elephant’.
“Sense of history, same grounds, same songs”
Honouring Our Heritage through Our House System
The Hamilton sisters first established the Toorak College House system, which continues to honour the heritage of our school.
- Douglas and Mayfield, our first two Houses, are named after two streets that bordered our original school in Toorak.
- Hamilton is named after the Hamilton sisters.
- Tripp is named in memory of our third Principal, Miss Margaret Tripp.
- Pye, introduced in 1955, is named after former Principal, Miss Ellen Pye.
- Cerutty, our most recent House, is named after our tenth Principal, Miss Dorothea Cerutty.
The Toorak College Family was Formed
The Toorak College Old Girls’ Association was established in 1908 and are now called Toorak Collegians as of this year's Extraordinary General Meeting. The Parents and Friends’ Association was officially formed in 1946. To this day, these two groups continue to lead our school’s fundraising initiatives, driving ongoing improvements to our buildings and facilities.
A History of Our Buildings
Toorak College has benefitted greatly from the hard work of our broad school community and its tireless fundraising efforts.
Below is an overview of our school’s enhancements over its long history:
- Wardle House was established in 1957 in Woodlands Avenue.
- A building campaign in the 1960s raised funds for the Mary Herring Hall, the Sir Norman Carson Library and the Science laboratories.
- In 1972, we welcomed our beautiful Chapel and the new Boarding House (named Joan Ansett Hall after Lady Ansett who dedicated more than 40 years to Toorak College).
- In the 1980s the Arts and Crafts centre was built, Joan Ansett Hall and Mary Herring Hall received extensions.
- In 2001, Bardon House, our Senior Student Centre, was officially opened.
- In 2004, the Aquatic Centre opened and the Pavilion Café replaced our old tuckshop.
- Recent Junior School building projects have resulted in four new classrooms and the expansion of the Early Learning Centre.
- In 2009 and 2010, we added a new all-weather play area to the Junior School, a purpose built music centre and the new Norman Carson Library.
“We had to find ourselves; our feet rang strangely on the red brick floor of the cloisters, as we marched for the first time along them to prayers in ‘The Elephant’.” — Joan Duffield, 1928 (the first year Toorak College was located in Mount Eliza)
If you’re looking for a school that embraces tradition, open-mindedness, innovation and individuality, then discover what Toorak College has to offer.
Please contact us to find out more.