The Cathedral School of St Anne & St James began life in 1917 as a humble girls’ school with seventy-one students. Originally called St Anne’s Church of England Girls’ School, the campus consisted of a single building in the middle of Townsville city – where the City Council now stands.
Fast-forward 100 years and these modest beginnings have grown into an independent, co-educational Anglican day and boarding school in Mundingburra, with more than 1200 students from early childhood to Year 12.
Over these past 100 years, the school has thrived. It has weathered the Great War, the Great Depression and a total evacuation during World War II; it found its way in new territory after outgrowing its campus and again after farewelling its beloved founding Sisters, and it has adapted fluidly to the changing tides in education and society.
The school’s founders recognised from the very beginning that education involves more than simply ‘learning subjects’. Today, The Cathedral School continues to provide educational excellence and personal development in the spirit its founders intended – through love, joy and faithful service to God.
John Oliver Feetham takes up his new post as Bishop of North Queensland and begins seeking support for an Anglican girls’ school in Townsville.
Sister Alice and Sister Frances arrive in Townsville by steamer ship to prepare for the opening of the new school. St Anne’s Church of England Girls’ School is opened when Mother Emma and Sister Vernon arrive in July. The school has an initial enrolment of seventy-one students and consists of a single building in the middle of Townsville city.
Bishop Feetham (left) with the Bishop of London and Sisters, Townsville, 1927.
The school colours are established: ‘Navy blue for prayer, white for purity and brown for work and study.’
The school adopts a house system with four Houses – Bede, Chatham, Langton and More – and holds its first Interhouse Athletics Carnival on Ascension Day. The Old Girls’ Association is founded.
Chatham House students, circa 1950s.
The first Dawn Magazine is published by the Old Girls’ Association. The School Song is introduced and is sung whenever the school gathers to walk to a destination.
Alice Stockdale, the first St Anne’s girl to graduate from university, returns as a teacher.
A polio epidemic strikes and St Anne’s provides accommodation for girls who come to Townsville for treatment at Sister Kenny’s clinic.
Sister Alice departs at the end of 1936 after almost twenty years as the Sister in Charge, and Sister Frances returns to the school as Sister in Charge at the beginning of 1937.
L-R: Sisters Alice, Frances and Vernon on the steps of the Wills Street house, Townsville
The school bids farewell to another of its precious founders as Sister Vernon departs.
At the beginning of the school year, the students are evacuated to Ravenswood due to World War II. The school’s dormitories in Townsville are taken over for use by the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF).
Mingela Railway Station, on the way to Ravenswood, circa 1943.
The school returns to its original site in Townsville, but the buildings require extensive repairs. In August, the whole school joins in the Victory celebrations when the war ends.
Sister Helen becomes Sister in Charge and sets about rebuilding the school and raising educational standards.
St Anne’s now has 270 students, including eighty-four boarders. Talks begin regarding the need for new school premises, and 23 acres of land in two lots are purchased in Mundingburra.
On 13 April the new school is officially declared open, and the school moves to its new location at the end of August.
In December the Foundation Stone is laid for the new school.
Opening of the school, Mundingburra, 1958.
The school wins both Junior and Senior Interschool Athletics – the first Townsville school to do so.
A year of rapid growth, dormitories are overflowing and boarders are now living in the main administration building known as Main House.
Television comes to Townsville. The Sisters are concerned at the impact of this (and other modern innovations) on school life.
Miss Davies leaves after fifty years of teaching at the school. The school celebrates its Golden Jubilee; it has been fifty years since the arrival of the SSA to North Queensland and the foundation of St Anne’s.
Miss Davies with students, Townsville.
There are now 430 students enrolled, 189 of them are boarders. For the first time since the move to Mundingburra, the school has more day students than boarders.
The impressive new library, named in honour of Bishop John Oliver Feetham, is opened, with classroom spaces below. This is the school’s Diamond Jubilee Year (sixty years).
A modern three-storey girls’ dormitory is opened and named in honour of Sister Frances; some girls have to sleep in the hall until the building is finished.
The Society of the Sacred Advent withdraws its Sisters from the school, ending 62 years of devoted service to education in North Queensland. The school is handed over to the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland to manage.
The school welcomes its first male and lay Principal, Mr Neil Tucker. As there is no school council, he sets up an advisory group of ‘people of goodwill’ from the community.
The school becomes fully co-educational, allowing boys into the Secondary School for the first time. The school adopts the name ‘The Cathedral School of St Anne & St James’, reflecting its origins as St Anne’s plus its ties with St James’ Cathedral.
The School adopts a new crest and school motto. The crest matches that of the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland and St James’ Cathedral. The new motto Talium dei Regnum (Of Such is the Kingdom of Heaven), is based on a phrase taken from Matthew 19:14.
The School adopts a new crest and school motto.
The first computer room opens, complete with six Apple computers worth $13,000, donated by the Parents & Friends’ Association.
Boys are introduced into the boarding school for the first time and accommodated in St Mary’s.
Mr Fred Danielsen commences as Principal. The school introduces an Outdoor Education Program, sending students on adventures in the bush under the care of the Outward Bound organisation. During Foundation Week, a plaque is unveiled to mark the site of the original St Anne’s School, the school has now been operating for seventy years.
Boarding numbers reach 200, including international students from Hong Kong and Japan, and Tuvaluan students on an AusAid program. The new boys’ boarding house, Akins House, is officially opened.
Mr Fred Danielsen’s resignation creates some upheaval at the school. Long term staff members, Mrs Nancy Armati and Mrs Desma Spiegelhauer, retire. The new Junior School double-storey classroom block is opened.
Mr Bill Toppin commences as Principal.
The school year opens with an unprecedented enrolment of 810 students and Mr Jim Raw commences as Principal. A Sister School Agreement is signed with Sakuragaoka High School in Japan. The Cathedral School celebrates eighty years of teaching and learning.
The school becomes separately incorporated from the Anglican Diocese.
The school begins its largest ever building project. The result is a two-storey classroom block and a redeveloped Senior School precinct.
Senior School courtyard, Mundingburra, 2006.
The Middle School opens with Mr Matthew McGucken as Head of School. The first cohort of year 7’s plan their classroom space and values to create their own identity.
The school celebrates its 90th year with the opening of the Early Learning Centre and works begin on the expansion of Akins dormitory.
The school year opens with 983 students, 140 of them boarders. A new Principal, Mr Ian Gamack, joins the Cathedral community.
Mr Ian Gamack joins The Cathedral School community as the new Principal in 2009.
In February, cyclone Yasi causes the temporary closure of the school. Students from Foshan, Townsville’s sister city in China, join the school for a week. They enjoy their homestay and school experience so much that it becomes an annual event.
The school years starts with 1047 students – a record number – plus a full complement of 150 children in the Early Learning Centre. The Rock Centre redevelopment which incorporates a stage, seating for over a thousand people, basketball and netball courts, classrooms and kitchen is completed.
The Cathedral School celebrates its centenary with many events, including the unveiling of the Connection Place and a black-tie dinner attended by hundreds of past students and staff from Australia and overseas.
The Connection Place, Mundingburra.
The Junior School Wonder Hub is opened as a place where children are actively inspired and encouraged to wonder.
Life is disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but teachers provide both online and face-to-face lessons to support students at home or at school. Most extracurricular activities and events are cancelled due to government health regulations.