Cyclone Leonta, which struck Townsville on 9th March 1903, was considered the worst the city had seen. With a central pressure of approximately 965 millibars, today it would be classed as Category 3, with winds between 170-225 kph or greater.
Both cathedrals were unroofed, the School of Arts was destroyed and eight people died as the hospital disintegrated. Townsville Grammar School’s impressive two storey brick building, which had withstood Cyclone Sigma seven years earlier, was completely destroyed. By mid-morning the roof had already been ripped off the upper storey but it was not until “the first gong had sounded for dinner” that catastrophe struck and the solid brick walls collapsed.
|The Grammar School before Cyclone Leonta, NQ Photographic Collection ID 343, Willmett & Wyeth Album|
|The Grammar School after Cyclone Leonta, NQ Photographic Collection ID 392, Willmett & Wyeth Album|
The story of Leonta’s assault on the school is told by Kim Allen in his “History of the Townsville Grammar School 1888-1988”, held in the North Queensland Collection.
Kim Allen's research papers are also currently held in the Library Archives.
Story by Miniata