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News > Alumni > Boarding In The 1940s

Boarding In The 1940s

Judith Jones (Hinds) was a boarder in the 1940s and recalls her amazing journey with the girls in the Newcastle Grammar School boarding house.
1940s girls: Judith Atwater, Judith Hinds, Lynette Sawyer, Heather Vaughn, Florence Austin.
1940s girls: Judith Atwater, Judith Hinds, Lynette Sawyer, Heather Vaughn, Florence Austin.

Judith Jones (Hinds) was a boarder in 1947 and 1948 when the School operated as Newcastle Church of England Girls’ Grammar School. She is pictured below with fellow student Roma Hemsworth (Kemp). The two remain good friends and recently shared with Spectemur Agendo some of their memories of boarding.

 Each term, the girls were assigned to one of the four dormitories. There were three in ‘Parnell’, above the classrooms, and a fourth nearby, with eight or nine beds in each. There was a live-in Mistress with an adjacent bedroom. Boarders had regular room inspections. The girls had a bath twice a week and washed their hair once a week. There were no showers.

After the school day finished, the girls would often play tennis, netball, or swim at the Newcastle Baths.
In the evenings, study time was 6.20pm to 7.40pm. In the Common Room they would read, knit or play ‘Jacks’. ‘Lights Out’ was at 8.10pm when Headmistress, Miss Zoe Martin, would come around to say goodnight to everyone.

They ate all meals in the dining room, with each girl assigned to a table for a term. A Mistress would sit at the head of each table, and Miss Martin would rotate between the tables, checking on manners and conversation. At that time, ration coupons were still in use, and the girls’ parents had to give the school coupons for butter, sugar and tea. This made cake with pink icing a real treat for dessert on Sunday nights. Day girls would often bring the boarders other sweets and treats, as well as The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine.

The Headmistress had a Morris Eight small car, which the boarders took turns washing on Saturday mornings. It had a brass frame around the radiator, which they would shine by blowing on it — no polishing. On Saturday afternoons, the boarders would often visit a designated area at either Newcastle, Nobby’s or Bar Beach. Sometimes they would go across to Stockton on the ferry. On Saturday nights they would often dance. Roma had been learning classical piano for five years, so she was often the pianist at dance time.

On Sundays, those who were confirmed attended a 7.00am service at the Cathedral. Breakfast was a boiled egg. Those who were not confirmed went to a 9.30am service. Quite often they would also go to the 11.00am service, and the singing would be broadcast on 2KO radio. During the afternoon, girls wrote a letter home, and to friends if time allowed. Two senior girls would take the letters to the Newcastle Post Office, dressed in their white dresses, black stockings, school hats and gloves. Later there was a 7.00pm church service.

Roma and Judith remember some of the girls leaving notes for the choir boys in the pews.

In the black and white photograph from their school days, you can see the Merrick Building in the background. The girls were all from the Upper Hunter Valley. Since leaving school, they have continued to catch up regularly.

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