Picture the scene at the new Fort Street school on the morning of the first day of spring on 1 September 1849. Inside the renovated old Military Hospital built in 1815 pleasantly situated on the highest ground at Observatory Hill, the polished floorboards and the desks were untarnished by spilt ink. The chalkboard had not once been dusted of chalk and the open roll of Mr Hugh Farrel’s class on the lectern was unmarked. The school yard had not yet echoed of children at play and the bell had not once been rung. On that same morning, boys and girls sat down at the small wooden desks, opened their copybooks and quietly made public school history.
These were the first pupils of Fort Street Model School, one of the first schools in New South Wales to be founded under the provisions of the National Education Board Act 1848.
They carried a heavy weight of anticipation on their young shoulders, for they symbolised the future prosperity of the fledgling colony. In this classroom, these students and those who followed them were expected to grow into educated people equipped to fulfil their destiny as the leaders and policy makers, entrepreneurs and industrialists, of the future.
Our Archives and Museum exists to preserve this rich history, the colourful stories of our teachers and students, told through their experiences in the classroom and in the schoolyard, at work and play, for over 160 years. The Fort Street Archives contain an impressive range of remarkable historical items, artefacts of the school and personal donations given generously by former students, staff and families. These include:
- student work and prizes
- school publications including The Fortian and Mercurius
- photographs, slides and negatives
- audio visual material
- school uniforms and badges
- staff and student records
- honour boards, achievement awards, trophies and memorabilia
- uniform paraphernalia and textiles including caps, blazers, uniforms
- maps, drawings and paintings
Information and content from our archives collection is used for a wide range of purposes across the school and its community, including educational projects, building programs, development and alumni events, and school publications.
We are currently working on digitising the archives and making some of this available on the school website and some public websites.
View a list of Distinguished Fortians here: