History of Slade School

As expressions of interest for the purchase of Slade Campus close next week, the Southern Free Times thought it was timely to publish a story on the history of this site. This was submitted by a local resident.
The Slade School, Warwick was founded in 1926. What is now known as Slade House (formerly “Eastmont”) was on the ridge on the northern side of the Condamine River, overlooking the town. The fine house had been owned by a Mr Wast. A small committee of St Mark’s parish purchased it in order to establish a secondary boarding school for sons of parishioners who lived outside Warwick. The opening enrolment was six boarders, one of whom, Mr Ken Mardon, still lives in Warwick.
William Ball Slade who lived at Glengallan Homestead was a benefactor of the school from its foundation, hence the name ‘Slade’. Growth was slow because of finance. The first building that was needed was for the boarders (known as Barnes House). It was double storeyed accommodation with two small bedrooms for housemasters. It was designed to sleep 20 but housed up to 80. It would have been very cold and Spartan accommodation. Since the acquisition of the school by Churchie, this building houses what is now known as the administration and computer centre. The second building, erected in 1928 was of brick construction with a steeply pitched roof and it housed four classrooms. This later became the Chapel, for it was often mistaken for one. David Binns, the Anglican priest-artist designed stained glass windows for its southern side. These have been removed and installed into another Anglican school.
School enrolments increased dramatically during the Second World War so a number of timber homes were bought with their land along Horsman Road. An orchard across the road was purchased and became the school’s sports oval. The Old Boys Association provided the white railing fence and a timber grandstand. To commemorate those from the school that died in the war, a silky oak tree was planted for each past student and a brass plate was fixed with the person’s name.
Next, a purpose built Honour Room was built and two adjoining rooms became the science laboratories and became known as the Science War Memorial Block, mostly financed by the Old Boys’ Association. The next building was adjoined to Slade House and was the dining hall with its ‘high table’ for the staff.
Barnes House was named after J.H.S Barnes, the father of C E (CEB) Barnes, a leading politician from the area.
The school had a primary section and had classes in Chapel and Atkinson Houses; they boarded in Marshall Street (‘Highfields’), half a mile from the school. They were fed at the school and made this half mile walk to the school four times daily.
Another cottage was purchased near Barnes House for a dispensary, hospital and a home for the nursing matron. In the sixties, the school bought makeshift acquisitions of family residences and sheds to house the number of students.
Father Peter Mayhew from the Bush Brotherhood of St Paul was most important in keeping the Slade School functioning. Mr Keith Dan, who succeeded Mayhew as headmaster of Slade for eight years, went on to become Head of Mathematics at Churchie, East Brisbane. Another classroom block was built as well as a boarding house along Horsman Road. This was named after the then longest serving headmaster, Archdeacon Byam Roberts. This building was refurbished in 1986.
A 24-metre swimming pool was bequeathed to the school by Mr James Fletcher, a western grazier.
The headmaster’s house was built in Dan’s time but he never got to live in it. His successor did, Mr Horace Whybird, for seven years.
A library was built which is now known as the Art Block and agricultural land was acquired further along Horsman Road.
Mr Edward Prince (1956-1990 – on staff at Slade) was appointed headmaster in 1974 and even then there were fears for the school’s survival. In the same year, St Catharine’s School in Locke Street, Warwick, run by the Sisters of the Sacred Advent, gave up the struggle to survive and this school came under the leadership of the Slade School. The school was finally closed in 1975 and the site sold for housing. Some buildings, including the School Hall (1977) and Home Economics building were removed to the Slade Campus and girls began to board at Slade. The kitchen and dining hall were upgraded. It was not until 1983 that a suitable building for girls’ boarding was in use on the Slade Campus and Edward Prince House was opened officially in October, 1983. In 1990, the undercroft was added as a large and attractive common room for presentations and performances. In 1992, extensions were added to Roberts House for male boarders.
The school’s clientele was changing and there were many Aboriginal, Papua New Guinean and Asian students enrolled in the eighties and nineties.
Prince noted that in all his time at Slade, there were very few students who lived in Warwick.
Prince’s successor was Br Bob Grandin, who led the school until its closure at the end of 1997.
ACGS, Brisbane took over the School in 1999. The first residential students arrived on July 24, 2000. The head of Slade Campus was Michael Harding who was appointed in April 2000. He came to Warwick from Adelaide with a strong interest and experience in middle schooling.