Mosman Prep memories

Posted by
Donal Carr

Just north of St. Clements C of E Church, was a wide bitumen path which in those days was the principle entrance to Mosman Church of England Preparatory School. There was a tennis court behind the church. Down a slope was the main building (dating from 1904) which contained the whole school.

There was an entrance to the old hall at the foot of the slope. Then going clockwise around the building – On the left a small classroom (Mr. MacDougall’s class), then the 30 seat 4th class room and then the 30 seat 3rd class room on the NE corner of the building.

Opposite these classrooms were firstly sand pits, with pipe climbing frames, then a covered play and lunch area. There was a hanging horizontal ladder for exercise, which was out of reach to the younger boys. The boys toilet was on the north side. The open area to the north of the building was all concrete and there was a double door to the main hall. It was on this step that crates of free half pint glass milk bottles were stacked, usually in the sun. And alas, by “play lunch” at 11am, the milk was often sour. They never did learn!

On the west side of the building there were two sided stairs leading to the 2nd class room, to the main hall and the kitchen. Further south was the small 1st class room, seating about 12 children. (I started here in 1946.) Then there was a door to the old hall.

Between the main building and Shadforth Street was a sandy – clay tennis court. It was here that we assembled each morning and where the mandatory physical culture class was held. At “play lunch” and lunchtime it was a hive of activity. The annual school photo was also shot here.

In the old hall there were two classes 5th and 6th separated by a cloth curtain – not really a satisfactory separation. The room also housed the library and the honour boards.

And finally on the SE corner of the building was the Headmasters Office. Mmmm, a place most boys hesitated to visit for it was here that “Tibby” Arnold, dished out the cane. Yes, I sampled “cuts” on my hand and on my behind – well deserving no doubt!

The school years were on the whole bearable and the school laid a very good foundation for later schooling. Today I am proud to be a member of the Mosman Prep Old Boys Union.

I travelled to school on the 236 Beauty Point to Musgrave Street Ferry route. Sometimes I would miss this bus in the afternoon and would have to catch the 232 to Balmoral Beach which meant an extra ten minute walk home from Stanton Road. They were green double decker buses in those days – Albion or Leyland. My preferred seat was up front on the upper deck.

Donal Carr · 24 August 2012

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Thank you Donal for these fascinating recollections.

Mosman Prep had not changed greatly when I attended the school between 1956 and 1959.

I lived at Iluka Road, Clifton Gardens and usually walked to and from school, something that most parents would not permit these days.

As teachers I had Mrs. MacDougall, Mrs. Kennedy, Mr Moriarty and Mr Duffet. The first two were, I think, the wife and sister of the Headmaster and the daughters of the first Headmaster, Mr Yarnold. We were required to call them ‘Sir’. They were kindly and popular. Mr Moriarty was much less popular. A strict disciplinarian, he regularly struck boys hard with a ruler that he described as his ‘slapper’. Mr Duffet was an excellent teacher and I enjoyed his classes. He had a great sense of humour.

My other recollections include the run down classrooms, assemblies and plays in the school hall, playing sport at Rawson Oval and Primrose Park, learning how to box, lusty singing of the school song, playing cowboys and Indians in the main playground, watching films organised by Mr Morgan and buying lunches prepared by volunteer mothers.

I only remember some of my friends: Jamie Rae, Ian Finlay and Peter Swire are names that come to mind. I still keep in touch with Peter.

I did not shine academically or in any other way at Mosman Prep. When I went on to Shore, though, I came close to the top of my class without working especially hard and played in a ‘A ‘ Rugby side. Mosman Prep had prepared me well. My second year at Shore was much less successful as I did not do the necessary work to sustain such performances.

— David Carment · 7 March 2013, 21:23 · #

I attended Mosman Prep from Kindergarten to end year 4, from 1983-1987.

The main entrance to the school for kids getting dropped off by car was on Shadforth Street. As a curiorisity the stone work on the Mosman Prep Shadforth Street front gate was done by Cameron of Mosman Landscapes (mobile 0425329170) who now drives a taxi given demand for quality stonework is ‘lumpy’. There used to be teachers on duty around the gate there to usher in the kids.

On the left when you entered was originally a bitumen play yard with basket ball poles, later resurfaced and painted by parents (mine included) and on the right was the staff common room (with windows looking out on the main yard/playground) with a small playground immediately adjacent to shadforth that from memory had a side entrance around to the kindergarten playground. Once you walked up the brick ramp from the gate and climbed a few stairs you then entered under a roofed corridor that ran around the side of the old building on the left – the entrance to the teachers common room was on your right immediately after you climbed those stars, and away off to your left (walking along the side of the yard on an elevated walkway) was the entrance to the music and art rooms.

Continuing straight from the gate, shortly after the teachers’ common room entrance was the entrance to the kindergarten room (on your left) and the kindergarten playground entrance (on your right) – this playground was small and only for Kindergarten kids. It had some climbing gear (I recall a pyramid of logs screwed in on an incline you had to walk around to climb up the structure) but also a small room which was where the school PE and sport gear was stored. We played a lot of cops and robbers there.

Continuing past the Kindergarten room / playground entrance you would walk along a brick path (which it was very imporant we never run along), curving to the left and arrive at the bottom of the slope described by Donal Car above. Looking up the slope to your right was the church along with another building (library?), and finally at the top of that ramp the school gate onto Raglan Street – when I started catching the bus in my later years I used this gate and walked up Raglan Street to Military Road and caught the bus to around Bond Street (home was between Countess and Lang Street).

Coming back to the school, turning straight again from looking up the hill was firstly a door on the left into the main hall which was used for assembly as well as indoor PE classes. Heading straight you went into the main building corridor – first class was on your right, second class in the room after, then you had to head upstairs for letter classes. On your left was music and art room, which then in turn had an exit onto the main playground I described above on entering the Shadforth gate.

My teachers to recall here were Mrs Hoskins, Mr Cable, Mrs Muller and Mr Fletcher. The Headmaster during my years was Ian Begbie. For those interested the headmaster’s vision is recorded here:,1364691

Today the school owns at least two adjacent properties and has extended its facilities significantly from those days, however those used to be private homes in the 1980s.

Funnily enough I still recall the school song – ‘here’s a toast to you and a toast to me and to those who came before us’ and so on. I also recall the headmaster used to tell stories in assembly although I only dimly recall the details I believe they were designed to impart morals. The headmaster also insisted we all carry handkerchiefs and some classmates got in trouble if they did not bring them to school for inspection.

Other memories – we used books where we would trace letters over and over again between two lines so as to develop neat hand writing and I remember being proud to be allowed to start using ‘running writing’ letters, which essentially allowed you to put a little tail on each letter then later join your letters to form an unbroken word. All in pencil mind you in those early years.

In Kindergarten we were awarded ‘honour cards’ for good behaviour, although I never made the connection between what I did and getting a card I do remember being very happy to occassionally get one. From first class we were given a personal book of ‘debits’ and ‘credits’ – if we did a good act or performed well at a set task then we would get a credit, if we were poorly behaved we could get debits – if you got to 10 credits then you were awarded an honour card (and reset to zero) however if you got to negative 10 then you were given a detension (and you were in disgrace!).

Mr Cable was the PE teacher and larger than life. Before school we had roll call and each class (ie the whole year of students) stretched out in a single line on the ‘big’ shadforth street yard (its probably around 30m long?) and we did exercises to music and Mr Cable’s instruction – stretching down your leg on each side, star jumps and so on – we all loved it. He is still teaching kids to have a positive self image, I ran into him around 2005 at Manly Beach and he was helping at an Eastern Suburbs school and as positive and full of life as I recall.

We used to kick balls on that ‘big’ playground and it was a matter of considerable prestige to be able to kick a ball (anything – rugby balls, soccer balls and even basket balls) the whole yard – in the younger years I knew the best kickers in the school (and treated them with appropriate respect). We also played British Bullrush where if you were ‘in’ you had to catch and hold someone for 3 seconds (ie contact) then they joined you in the centre while other kids ran from the safety of one end, through the kids trying to catch them, to the safety of the other end. We all loved both games and it always seemed like you had just started playing when the bell rang.

My final memory was Sirius Cove – we used it all the time – Mr Cable would take us in the school minibus and we would play or practice whatever – tee ball, rugby, soccer. Cricket I recall the playing fields adjacent to Mosman Rowers was where we played and practiced most.

— Angus Crennan · 15 October 2013, 13:40 · #

I was at prep from ’71 to ’75, I started in 2nd class with Mrs. Clulo, remember Mrs MacDougall, can’t remember who was our teacher in 3rd class. Had Mr. Duffet in 4th class, Mr. Willison (he went off into buddism) in the 5th class also with Mr. Sherrell (he went off to be a steward for Qantas) and then we also had Mr. Kennedy (he was very cool), we had Mr. Cole for science. Mr. Bradley was headmaster. In the playground we kicked footies at lunch from one side of the playground to another, played tip and with toy cars down the drain towards Shadforth Street. Have very good memories of Prep. Non nobis Solem. We also played cricket at Mosman Bay and Rawson Park, softball at Tunks Park, cricket with the older teams there also. Inter school athletic carnivals, swimming carnivals, saturday morning sport against other schools, all good memories, thanks. Boris.

Boris Janjic · 3 November 2014, 00:49 · #