Sydney Architecture Images- The Rocks and the Quay

The National Trust Centre (Old Fort Street School)




Fort Street, the Rocks




Old Colonial Georgian


rendered brick


Government hospital, Education
  Image from the book "Sydney in 1848"
The oldest building in this complex is the two storey former 1815 military hospital, now facing the expressway. This later became the famous Fort Street School, the first school to provide for teacher training in the colony. The National Trust Centre includes the S.H. Ervin Gallery, café and shop.
The history of public education in Australia began when the Governor of New South Wales, Charles Augustus FitzRoy, established a Board of National Education on 8 January 1848 to implement a national system of education throughout the colony. The board decided to create two model schools, one for boys and one for girls. The site of the school was chosen as the old Military Hospital at Fort Phillip, on Sydney's Observatory Hill. This school was not only intended to educate boys and girls, but also to serve as a model for other schools in the colony. The school's name is derived from the name of a street which ran into the grounds of the hospital and became part of the playground during its reconstruction. The street name is perpetuated in the small street in Petersham that leads to the present school. The school was officially established on 1 September 1849, when the conversion of the building was approved by the government. This original school building is visible today beside the southern approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The establishment of Fort Street School marked the establishment of a non-denominational system of school, where the government undertook the education of its people, separate from religion.

In 1911, the school was split into one primary and two secondary schools: Fort Street Public School, Fort Street Boys' High School and Fort Street Girls' High School. Due to space limitations at Observatory Hill, in 1916, the Boy's school was moved to the school's present site, on Taverner's Hill, Petersham. The Girls' school remained at Observatory Hill until 1975, when the two schools were amalgamated to form the current co-educational school at Petersham. During that time, its grounds continued to be consumed by the growing city; for example, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which opened in 1932, took most of the playground. Fort Street Public School remains at Observatory Hill.

The school celebrated its sesquicentenary in 1999. Its student population is now a diverse one; students come from over 100 suburbs in Sydney, and over 600 of the 930 students have one of forty different languages as their native tongue. Students past and present are called "Fortians", leading to the expression, "Once a Fortian, always a Fortian".