By Cathy Jones, 2022
Strathfield Girls High opened as a single sex secondary comprehensive school for girls on Albert Road Strathfield in 1953.
The school was built on the site on which the mansions ‘Milroy’ and ‘Elwood House’ had been located. ‘Milroy’ and ‘Elwood House’ were built in the early 1880s by tobacco merchants George Todman and William von der Heyde respectively and the houses were among the most lavish mansions built in Strathfield in the late 19th century. Both houses were auctioned and demolished in 1929 with the intention of developing a new housing estate called ‘Milroy Gardens’, however only seven houses of the subdivision were ever built. The majority of the residue land was resumed by the NSW Minister for Public Instruction with the intention to build a Western Suburbs Public School.
However, the site remained open space until 1953 when Strathfield Girls High was finally built. In the meantime, the land was managed by Strathfield Council and used as a public park known as ‘Milroy Park’. Noticeboards were erected on the site that stated ‘Milroy Park. By Courtesy of the Department of Education this area has been set aside for use as a Park under the control of the Strathfield Municipal Council’ (Council minutes 2 December 1941).
By 1941, during World War II, part of the land was occupied by the Australian Army for training purposes. The site was referred to as ‘Milroy Camp’ (Council minutes 16 December 1941 and 14 March 1944). Council fenced part for site for a public park and later laid out part of the site as a cricket oval. Until 1950, Council regularly approached the Department of Education regarding park uses of ‘Milroy Park’ with the intention of establishing a permanent park on the site as it had been effectively vacant since 1929. However, in 1950, the Department contacted Council and stated that working drawings of the proposed ‘Western Suburbs High School’ were to be built in Milroy Park and will be delivered to Council shortly (Council minutes 13 June 1955).
Strathfield Girls High was originally the Homebush Intermediate High School. This school was established in 1926n to meet the demand for public school secondary education for girls as there was no provision for secondary schools between ‘Petersham and Parramatta’ (Daily Examiner 1926). The school was located in Rochester Street Homebush (Wise 1950). In 1953, the school and its students moved to the newly built school in Albert Road Strathfield and was renamed Strathfield Girls High.
The new school was designed by the NSW Government Architect. The school opened in September 1953. The Sun newspaper (p15) reported on 18 September 1953 that: ‘One of the most modern Government schools in Australia, the Strathfield Girls’ High School, costing £200,000, was officially opened today. Education Minister Heffron said at the opening ceremony that the school compared with any institute in the world. The school, a two storeyed brick building, has separate wings for classrooms, chemical laboratories, and home science rooms. The assembly hall is artificially ventilated and has an auditorium 70 feet by 40 feet.’
New High School At Strathfield (1953, September 23). Construction (Sydney, NSW : 1938 – 1954), p. 1. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article222898597
New school at Strathfield (1953, September 18). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), p. 15 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved June 2, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230755041
NEW HIGH SCHOOLS. (1926, January 29). Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1915 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article195637144
Strathfield Girls High School (1953, December 24), Building Sydney 1952-1968
Strathfield Council (1941, 2 December), Council Meeting Minutes
Strathfield Council (1942, 2 June), Council Meeting Minutes
Strathfield Council (1942, 8 September), Council Meeting Minutes
Strathfield Council (1950, 13 December), Council Meeting Minutes
Strathfield Municipality (1950), Wise’s Directories