Long respected as one of the nation’s foremost educational facilities, Toowoomba Grammar School has a history dating back 140 years.
TGS had its beginnings in the early part of 1874 when Samuel Stephens gathered together a list of subscribers to establish a grammar school in Toowoomba. An application made to the Colonial Secretary’s Office was granted and Grammar’s foundation stone was laid on 5 August, 1875. The original school building was completed, on its present site, the following year.
A total of 44 boys had been enrolled when the school opened on 1 February, 1877. The sudden death two years later (in a horse riding accident) of the first headmaster, John Mackintosh, led to the school being embroiled in financial difficulties. This problem continued through the 1880s when school enrolments declined. The school’s motto, Fidelis in Omnibus (Faithful in All Things), was attributed to Charles Corfe during his time as headmaster, from 1890 to 1900, but Grammar was still struggling to survive as the 20th Century opened.
During the decade-long headmastership of William Purves, a period of development and expansion was accompanied by a growth in student numbers. This paved the way for a memorable era from 1910 to 1935, under the reign of TGS’s longest serving headmaster, George Pitty Barbour. Enrolments rose to record levels, scholastic and sporting achievements were impressive, the school song was composed, and school amenities were upgraded. This upward trend was consolidated over the 11 years that Henry Roberts served as headmaster, and with Toowoomba being regarded as a safe haven during World War II, Grammar’s student numbers rose to 376 by 1945.
As TGS’s 75th Anniversary was approaching, in 1950, a masterplan for the school’s future, including a new classroom block, a headmaster’s residence, the driveway from Margaret Street and new ovals and tennis courts, was put into place.
After declining following the declaration of peace, school numbers began increasing again in the 1960s as the assembly hall, Groom House and a science block were constructed in the ongoing building program.
Bill Dent, who was headmaster from 1970 to 1991, was responsible for introducing a student council and for involving staff, parents and old boys in decisions impacting the school. As Grammar was prospering with Dent’s astute guidance, enrolments climbed to 728 and the school’s popularity required the implementation of a waiting list. This positive leadership was carried on by Hugh Rose, who filled the headmaster’s position from 1992 to 2002. During his tenure, Rose managed to blend the more traditional elements of the school with modern educational thinking and astute business practice as well as encouraging the cultural side of education, particularly in music.
The present headmaster, Peter B Hauser, oversees a staff of 300 plus working with some 1260 students, 940 of whom are in the senior school and 320 in the junior school. Boarders number around 300 and two new boarding houses are near completion.
Importantly, under Hauser’s direction TGS’s reputation for producing graduates with an all-round education, underpinned by intellectual, physical and cultural values, has continued to ripen.
Words by Graeme Kelly | Images supplied by Toowoomba Grammar School