Thursday, August 23, 2012

Special Collections Fossickings 9: St Anne’s goes to Ravenswood

When the Cathedral School of Townsville held its annual reunion in July this year, the activities included a trip to Ravenswood to mark the 70th anniversary of the School’s relocation to this old mining town.
The Second World War was at its height in 1942 and Townsville was not only under threat of air attack and possible invasion by Japanese forces but was being transformed by the influx of Australian and American troops. At the time St Anne’s School, as it was then known, was located on the site of the present City Hall, but war brought about the decision to evacuate the school to Ravenswood in February of that year, and the school premises were taken over by the military.

The war years were difficult for St Anne’s. Enrollments declined as widespread anxiety caused many families to leave Townsville, taking their daughters with them. Other students decided to forgo their education in favour of seeking jobs. But, for those who remained, the years at Ravenswood must have been quite an adventure. According to the school’s annual reports, held in the North Queensland collection, the whole of Ravenswood became their playground and bush picnics were occasional treats. Despite the loss of amenities enjoyed in Townsville the kindness of locals was much appreciated and the girls reciprocated by holding patriotic concerts in the town and joining in other Ravenswood activities. Early in 1945 St. Anne’s returned to Townsville and school life gradually returned to normal. A dormitory building at the school was later named “Ravenswood” in recognition of the years spent there.

Did you have a mother, aunty or grandma who was at St Anne’s during those years? Have you heard their Ravenswood stories?
Wilson's House in Ravenswood, Image courtesy of The Cathedral School of St Anne & St James

North Queensland Photographic Collection ID 9308, Cathedral School Album, “Old St Anne’s 1956”
The Walker Street school premises in Townsville, which was evacuated during the war and taken over by the military.



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