Osborne Ladies College in Blackheath, ran from 1923 until 1958 and was run like a British Naval Academy. Headmistress, Violet Gibbons, drew upon her own patriotic passion for Britain and the British Navy. Osborne’s best years were the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1923 Gibbins moved her school to its final location on 40 acres near Blackheath overlooking the Kanimbla and Megalong Valleys. The building was the former site of an unused hotel built in 1888. Here: https://w3w.co/implications.turbulence.replaces
In the words of a former student, this became her “magnificent obsession”. Not only did her school take its name from the Royal Naval Training College on the Isle of Wight, but naval jargon, procedure and tradition permeated all aspects of school life.
The school’s dormitories, classrooms, dining and assembly rooms and even the bathroom became ‘ships’ and sailed the educational seas under such famous names as Sirius, Sydney, Revenge, Rodney, Pelican, Neptune and Nelson. The system of authority within the school paralleled a naval structure of command, the younger students beginning as midshipmen, or ‘middies’, attaining the rank of lieutenant or captain in their senior years. Teachers were commanders and the headmistress the Admiral who addressed her crew from the quarterdeck or bridge.
𝐵𝐿𝐴𝐶𝐾𝐻𝐸𝐴𝑇𝐻 𝗚𝗥𝗢𝗪𝗘𝗥𝗦 𝗠𝗔𝗥𝗞𝗘𝗧 🌽🍤 🎼
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In addition to the quarterdeck, the rooms of the school were known by the names of Royal Navy ships such as-
- HMS Pelican – Admiral Gibbins’ room
- HMS Sirius – Commander Everingham’s room
- HMS Sirius – Classroom
- HMS Sydney – Classroom
- HMS Sussex – Classroom
- HMS Revenge – Classroom
- HMS Albion – Classroom
- HMS Revenge – Bedroom
- HMS Arethusa – Bedroom
- HMS Nelson – Assembly Hall
- HMS St. Vincent – Mess
- HMS Neptune – Bathroom
- HMS Dreadnought -Sickbay
Discipline was strict and order and Spartan comfort characterized the daily routine. Some former students were grateful for this, feeling it strengthened and matured them, though a number found it harsh and not to their liking. Morning inspection parades ensured, according to the college prospectus, “that the general appearance of the pupils is up to the standard of the R.N. in cleanliness and smartness. “We polished everything”, recalled one student, “our shoes, our buttons and our gum boots. Lots of spit and polish.”
𝗚𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗧 𝗟𝗢𝗖𝗔𝗟 𝗙𝗢𝗢𝗗, 𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲-𝗮𝘄𝗮𝘆 🍛 🥐 ☕ 🥪
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At its peak Osborne accommodated 50-75 students drawn mainly from country areas in NSW but also from inter-state and even beyond Australia.
It struggled on after World War II and eventually closed its doors following the death of Miss Gibbons in 1958. The old building was burnt to the ground in the 1980s. A new school, currently the Mountains Christian College was built on the site.
Memorabilia from Osborne Ladies’ College is on display in the Mount Victoria Museum.
Source: Blue Mountains Locals Studies
𝗩𝗜𝗦𝗜𝗧𝗢𝗥 𝗲𝗠𝗔𝗚 📚
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