Our lost buildings: Moreton Bay Girls High School - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views
Local History

1901 pen drawing. Photos: Supplied.


This fine building once stood at 89 Bay Terrace Wynnum. John Iley Green (1839 – 1905) purchased this land in 1891, not long after the rail line had reached the district in 1889. Here, he and his two sons built the school.

The Green family hailed from Bridport, Dorset, England. Bridport was a rope-making town. John Iley Green, his wife Ellen Webber Green (nee Greenham) and seven children moved to Cardiff in 1875, as there were more opportunities for education and employment for the family. However, the poor air quality of Cardiff, due to the surrounding south Wales coalfields, prompted John and fourth child Mary to sail to Australia.

They arrived on the steamship “Taroba” on 24 May 1889. His third child, Emily Marina, arrived on the “Jelunga” on 17 August 1891, and his wife and seven other siblings came on 8 December 1892. The youngest child, Harold, was four years old. The eldest daughter, Ellen “Ada”, stayed in Wales as she was already married.

John Iley Green, a carpenter by trade, was 43 years old and had progressed over time from being a carpenter to a builder. He purchased two roods (½ an acre) of land at the northern end of Bay Terrace on 17 November 1891 and built a home large enough for his family of 13 persons, including his sister-in-law.

The second child, Alice Jane (1863 -1966), had trained at the South Kensington Science Department and the London Day Training College before arriving in Australia. She taught at Cardiff Higher Grade School in Wales for five years, becoming a Senior Mistress. She brought excellent testimonials to Australia, coming in 1892 and moving to take up a Senior Mistress post at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School in 1893.

The fifth and sixth children, Anne Eliza “Alison” (1869 -1954) and Ella “Hellah”(1872 -1969) had studied Art and Music in London. The pair moved from Wynnum to teach at the ladies high school in Tenterfield. The ninth child, Elsie Gertrude, moved to Tenterfield, and finally, Alice Jane left Rockhampton in 1895 and became Principal at Tenterfield for five years.

In 1900, Father John Iley and sons Samuel (1875-1958) and John William (1877-1959) completed a purpose-built school building at the front of the site of land in Wynnum. The Green girls left Tenterfield, and the family reunited in Wynnum.

Moreton Bay Girls High School took the first pupils in 1901. The original building was simple and catered for six boarders and 20 day girls. Queensland Country Life gives the school the highest accolades in 1908: “…broad and extensive curriculum, home from home accommodation, healthy seaside surroundings, examination links to overseas institutions and so on…”.

Father, John Iley Green, suffered an accident in 1905 and was killed.

In 1910, a large extension was built towards Florence Street, onto the southern side of the school, which increased pupil admissions. The extension contained additional new classrooms and practice rooms, a library and an abundant water supply.

The roof line was raised to give the dormitories more space on the second floor. The small balcony at the front of the original building was removed. An extension was built, enclosing the area, giving more internal space for the school. The verandahs were left open. This building work, both from an educational and a health point of view, allowed the claim to be made that the school was one of the best secondary schools in the state.

Admissions grew. The Greens passed away. In 1957 the school was re-named Moreton Bay College. But financially, the school could not survive on the two-acre piece of land. Fourteen acres had already been purchased in Wondall Road, Manly West, and now housed the Junior School. The decision to move the secondary school to Wondall Road was made. The Board Chairman, Rev Nevin Stoddart, stated that the ideals and traditions built up over the last 84 years would be able to survive and flourish. Moreton Bay College was opened on Wondall Road in January 1986.

Already in the hands of demolishers, the main building was eventually purchased by Tony Finlay, an expert at house restoration and moving large old homes onto new sites. Although the building was built as a school, Tony intended to create a residential mansion with very large rooms.

The three-storey structure was carefully dismantled into twelve pieces. Then the journey began across Brisbane to the new site, high on top of a hill in leafy Pullenvale, in Brisbane’s western suburbs. Reassembly took six weeks, and full restoration took nine months. The house was named “Moreton”.

Today we have the Wynnum Shopping Centre at 89 Bay Terrace Wynnum.

All photos courtesy of Wynnum Manly Historical Society.


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