MLC is more than just a school. Our Christian foundations ensure that we have always strived to provide the very best in holistic education to all who walk through our doors. Our very first students received a rigorous academic curriculum, while being equipped with the qualities that she could carry from school to the greater community, enabling her to face the world with integrity and resourcefulness, always in the context of the times.
Our journey has, at times, been challenging, but it has always been inspiring. Join us on our adventure through the decades.
‘No nation that has neglected the mothers and daughters has ever become great. If we do the best we can for womenfolk, we are doing the best thing for mankind’.
Opening speech of Methodist Ladies’ College by AE Bray, on behalf of the Methodist Church (Saturday 7 March 1908, Western Mail).
Our journey begins in 1907 when the Governor of Western Australia, Sir Frederick Bedford, lays the foundation stone of what is now known as the Centenary Building, on a six-acre site in Claremont. A year later, 54 students, including 23 boarders and 31 day girls, are enrolled under the founding Headmistress, Miss Edith James.
Miss Connell resigns in August 1913 and Miss Gertrude Walton takes over the role of Headmistress. The Prefect system is instituted soon after in 1914, and the second stage of the building design is completed in 1918. This includes the construction of an Assembly Hall (now the Chapel) and a new residential wing.
Whole School in 1914
Building and student growth continues, and by 1923 the original building design is completed. This includes: the main entrance with veranda and balcony, the foyer with its winding staircase, Headmistress study, and six additional rooms. In 1926 a new wing is also added to provide accommodation for a further 20 boarders, two new classrooms on the ground floor and seven music practising rooms. The College also purchases a further 3.5 acres of the neighbouring ‘Craigmuir’ property with the agreement to purchase the remaining property on the retirement or demise of the owner, Justice Robert Burnside.
The House system is adopted in 1927 with Athens, Rome, Sparta and Troy chosen as House names. A year later Methodist Ladies’ College turns 21.
In 1928 College Sunday is inaugurated (it will not become an annual event until 1933). The school song is written in 1928 and is performed at Speech Night for the first time.
Barclay House is opened in 1939. It has just two classrooms; one for kindergarten, the other for after-school art classes. It is the first time Methodist Ladies’ College Kindergarten is onsite at the Claremont campus. Miss Jean Barnes is the first Head of Barclay House.
Barclay House in the 1940s
After 32 years Gertrude Walton retires in September 1945. Miss Walton today remains the College’s longest serving Principal.
Miss Jean Bowden is appointed and serves two years (1946-1948) followed by Miss Doris Stevens who serves one year.
Methodist Ladies’ College celebrates 50 years in 1957 with the College’s first male Principal, Mr Walter Shepherd. The Gertrude Walton Memorial Library (now the Gertrude Walton Drama Centre) is completed in time for the anniversary celebration.
A second story is added to a classroom block in 1958, separate from the now iconic Centenary Building and Burnside House is renovated to accommodate Boarders and Junior School classes. Bosisto Hall is opened in 1959 and serves as the Assembly Hall and Gymnasium.
A swimming pool is opened onsite in 1962. This replaces the river swims ‘fondly’ remembered by former students. The wooden stairway leading to the river swims remains until 1996. Building continues and a Home Science and separate Chemistry block are also completed in 1962. A school canteen is opened in 1964 and Barclay House, following building extensions, is finally home to all junior classes in the College under Head of Barclay House, Mrs Margaret Palmer.
Swimming Pool in 1962
Science is in focus in 1965 with Biology and Physics laboratories opened, in a new Science wing.
Mrs Judy Moore is appointed Head of Barclay House in 1967, and a new wing on the eastern side of the Centenary building is opened. Two new Houses, Corinth and Olympia, are added to the original four Houses, continuing with the theme of the ancient history made popular by Principal Gertrude Walton. The Student Representative Council is also inaugurated at this time.
In May 1971, a classroom block with 11 classrooms and a staff room are officially opened by the Premier of Western Australia, The Honourable, John Tonkin, and is named Langsford House. A year later, a new library and the Walter Shepherd Research Centre is officially opened. This is Principal Walter Shepherd’s final year at the College.
There is a changing of the guard in 1973. Mrs Betty Cox is appointed Head of Barclay House and Dr Geoffrey Hadley is appointed Principal of MLC. The same year, the Boarder’s Valedictory dinner is inaugurated. The Premier, The Hon. Sir Charles Court, opens extensions to Science and Social Studies areas in August 1974.
In 1977, students have finally outgrown the Centenary Building and all classes are removed. The Centenary Building remains the College’s main administration and operations area as well as Boarding.
Sumner House is opened in 1979. It is part of the ongoing building programme, which represents the continuation of a tradition of improvement and modernisation that has become a feature of the College.
Sumner House in 1979
In 1980 Mrs Cox retires and is replaced the following year by Mrs Lexie Saggers, who remains at the helm of Barclay House until the end of 1990.
Connell House is built in 1982 and a new section is added to the rear of the Centenary Building. In 1983, 75 years of the College opening is celebrated. Barclay House is again extended, and Hadley Hall is opened in 1991, the same year that Mrs Leonie Drew takes over at Barclay House.
Dr Hadley retires as Principal in 1992 and Mrs Margaret Nadebaum is appointed Principal the following year.
Technology reaches the staff and students with the refurbished Walter Shepherd Resource Centre containing an Information Technology Centre in 1995.
Mrs Christine Jenkins is appointed Principal for 1999.
The first decade of a new century is a turbulent time in MLC’s history.
Mrs Jenkins leaves in 2001, and Mrs Jenny Ethell is appointed Acting Principal for 2002. From February to April 2003, Mrs Leonie Drew and Mrs Yvonne Palmer co-act in the role, until the College’s next Principal, Mr Stephen Lee, takes up the post.
The Junior School also survives numerous changes in leadership. Mrs Drew resigns in 2003, and her role is taken up by Mrs Wendy Harmon in 2004, followed by Mrs Debbie Dickson in 2006 and Mr Michael Brown in 2008.
A century of Methodist Ladies’ College is celebrated throughout 2007 and, under Mr Lee’s leadership, a new flurry of development begins. The Middle Year’s Building is completed in 2009, the same year that Mr Lee is replaced by Principal, Ms Rebecca Cody. The Building was renamed to be the Marjorie Lyon House after Collegian, Marjorie Lyon, in 2017.
The Meredith Taylor Health and Sports Centre is finally opened in 2011, and the Garden of Praise is established in 2012.
More major milestones are celebrated by the community, including 100 years of the Collegian’s Association in 2013, and 75 years of Barclay House in 2014. At this celebration a time capsule buried in 1989 was opened.
New buildings and grounds projects include the opening of the Middle Years' Building (2009), the Meredith Taylor Health and Sports Centre (2012), the Garden of Praise (2013) and in 2015-2016 the complete renovation of boarding facilities. The Junior Years redevelopment for our Early Learning Centre to Year 5 students was completed in 2017.