St Brigit's School by Sister Paula McAdam

Kalamunda had expanded fast in the years preceding WW1. New roads and the motor car had provided an impetus to the planting of new orchards and flower gardens and had also brought an influx of holiday makers and new residents.

In 1917, Archibald Sanderson of Lesmurdie House decided that the time was ripe for the establishment of a day and boarding school in the district. He therefore asked a Mrs and Miss Jones to bring their small school from Swanbourne to a site on part of the Lesmurdie property.

Herbert Parry prepared the plans and a two storey building came into being facing the entrance drive of the house. A semi-circular drive was laid out on the north side from the main road to give access to what was to become the front of the future building.

The school flourished for a few years until Mrs. Jones died. Her daughter tried to keep it going but was forced by ill health to resign. In 1919, with the end of the War, the building was sold to the Red Cross to be rented to the Repatriation Department to house sick and wounded soldiers.

It was decided to complete the building according to Herbert Parry's original plan which was based on the style of the home of Cecil Rhodes on the slopes of Table Mountain in South Africa called Groote Schuur.

Generals Birdwood and Talbot Hobbs laid foundation stones on either side of the entrance doors and the building was completed in 1921. The tiles on the original building were imported from Marseilles as ballast in wool ships returning to Australia, and the oak trees, which were planted in the grounds by the Repatriation Department, came from Windsor Castle. They had been left over when the original Honour Avenue was created in King's Park. In 1924, the building was let to the Perth Hospital as a convalescent home until 1929, when the Reverend Mother Brigid Watson bought the property on the advice of Archbishop Clune for the Sisters of Mercy. On 21st April of that year, Mother Teresa and her Religious staff took up residence with their first pupils — 36 boarders and 3 day girls.The school was named Saint Brigid's.

Since then a new two-storey building consisting of class-rooms and music rooms was added on the south side in 1938. In 1965, the Sister's convent was built at the rear of the original West wing. In 1967, two science rooms, an undercroft, tuckshop and new music rooms were added to the 1938 building. In 1971, a new Primary School was opened and a further wing was added to the secondary school; a junior primary school and new Science laboratory for the Secondary School was added in 1975, and 1978 saw the completion of the western wing of the Secondary School. The present school accommodates 370 Secondary students and 391 Primary pupils including 91 boarders.

Certainly Archibald Sanderson's belief that the time was ripe for the establishment of a day and boarding school in Lesmurdie has been more than vindicated.

Early St Brigid’s School

Modern photo of the school

© Darlington History Group       Ver 2.1.3     Oct 2019