Whanganui Collegiate School

Whanganui Collegiate School

Building Details

Name of Building: Whanganui Collegiate School
Location: 132 Liverpool St, Whanganui
Year Built: 1911
Date Plaque Unveiled: 17 October 2022
Current Owners: Whanganui College Board of Trustees
Contact Details: museum@collegiate.school.nz
Plaque Sponsor: Whanganui Collegiate School Museum Trust, Whanganui College Board of Trustees and Whanganui Collegiate School Board

Related Links

Brief Historical Information:

In 1852, Governor Sir George Grey made a grant of land to Bishop Selwyn of the Anglican Church Wanganui for the purposes of education. In 1854 the school opened in Victoria Avenue opposite the end of Plymouth Street. Known as the “Church of England Native and Industrial School,” it replaced the earlier church school attached to Rev Richard Taylor’s Mission Station and the first headmaster was the Rev Nicholls.

That school burnt down in 1861 and a new School was opened in 1867 under Headmaster Henry Godwin. His assistant G R Saunders took over in 1878, followed in 1882 by the Rev B W Harvey, who oversaw great expansion. Harvey wanted a School of the Collegial way and named it ‘The Whanganui Collegiate School.’ In 1887 his assistant Walter Empson took over as Headmaster and continued the expansion with the School gaining the reputation of being one of the best in the Dominion, attracting boys from all over New Zealand. With the town undergoing rapid growth room was needed to expand so in 1907 the School Trustees made the decision to relocate and build a new school in Liverpool Street, on other side of the College Street hill. The foundation stone was laid by Governor Lord Liverpool at Easter 1909. The new School was officially opened by Lord Islington at Easter in 1911 and at the same ceremony, the foundation stone for the chapel was laid.

Initially the School buildings comprised the ‘Big School’ teaching block, Dining Hall, Selwyn Grey and Hadfield boarding house, Headmaster’s residence, Chapel and Swimming pool. Buildings moved from the old School included the Headmasters house, which became the Sanitorium (Hospital) and the old Big School building became the Gymnasium (since replaced).

Major expansion undertaken in 1921 included Harvey, the fourth boarding house, a Music block and Dayboys house (now School Museum), the Chaplain’s and Steward’s residences and a new Dayboys house, Marris House, opened in 1960.

Further expansion in 1967 included the new Dining Hall, the former Dining Hall being converted to the Library, Science Centre and Empson House and additions to the other four houses. With a new Marris House and Porritt House (2nd dayboys house) opening in 1971.

In 1980 - 90 further expansion included The Prince Edward Auditorium, Foundation Music Suite and Izard Sports centre.

Restoration and Current Owner Story

The Chapel was earthquake strengthen and extended in 1985 with the Big School block being strengthened in 1989 along with the boarding houses.

Becoming co-educational Godwin House for girls was opened in 1991 with a second girls house Bishops opening in 1999.

Further development and strengthening has been ongoing.

Photo Gallery

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