Founding and construction
The need for a new school in the Belrose/Frenchs Forest area resulted from extraordinary growth in home building on both sides of Forest Way in the vicinity of Glen Street in the early 1960s. In 1963-64 the Department of Education purchased two heavily timbered adjoining blocks of land which together measured nearly 5¾ acres for the total sum of £29,000. The larger of the two areas was Mirool which contained a small timber cottage, garage, shed, windmill and water tank. All were demolished except for the cottage which was removed and rebuilt at 3 Hindson Place, where it remains. The entrance to Mirool was marked by two stone pillars which still remain today at the school's entrance near the Glen Street pedestrian crossing.
In 1965 Miss Marjorie Duncan Stuart was appointed Principal of the school, known originally as Belrose South Public School. Construction commenced and, when the school first opened its doors to 196 students in 1966, was still in progress. There were two unfinished classrooms, no water and no electricity. Six classes were formed from Kindergarten to Year 4, with three classes temporarily housed at Frenchs Forest Public School, and another at the Scout Hall (now part of Northgate Church) on Weardon Road, Belrose. More students arrived causing another class to be temporarily housed at St Stephen's old Church Hall in Forest Way. By August 1966 construction work finally caught up 247 students were attending school at the Glen Street site.
A new name
The name South Belrose was not popular. Miss Stewart and over 60 parents held meetings to agree a new name, with suggestions including Forest Ridge and Glen Ridge. These were rejected because Glen and Forest were both commonly included in school names and likely to cause confusion. Finally Wakehurst Public School was agreed upon, remembering a former Governor of NSW, Lord Wakehurst, and also the name of our local electorate. More poetically, however, was the fact that Lord Wakehurst's name was in turn derived from wick meaning "cottage" and hurst meaning "forest", words which well described the original Mirool property on which the new school stood.
By December 1966 school numbers had increased to 281, with further growth projected as Belrose was becoming the fastest growing area of Sydney at the time. Late 1966 saw the School Development Plan revised to have a total of nine rooms and a Principal's office, but February 1967 saw over 400 students at Wakehurst and so two classes were still temporarily housed in the staffroom and again in the Scout Hall. During 1968 and 1969 the Primary administration block, library, four more classrooms, a toilet block and the canteen were completed. At its largest, during the 1970s, Wakehurst Public School accommodated 803 students requiring the addition of four demountable classrooms, the last of which was removed in 1988.
Miss Stuart recognized that parts of the school grounds were amongst the very few remaining areas of pristine bushland in the district - the north-eastern corner behind the oval and the stand of scribbly gums on the Glen Street side. In spite of some opposition, Miss Stuart set out to protect those areas from development and so we have our very first Principal to thank for the fact that these two stands of endangered Duffys Forest ecological community remain to this day.
In 2016 Wakehurst Public School celebrated its 50th anniversary. Some exciting events and activities were held, including the wonderful Gala Anniversary Dinner on 23 July at Miramare Gardens, the very special community Open Day on Saturday 30 July, and our Back to the 60s Education Week Open Day on 2 August.
Wakehurst 50th anniversary book
The book is a beautiful, pictorial representation of the school, past and present. Available for purchase at the school.
Students stop every day to look at and seek out names in the 40th Anniversary Pavers at the Office entrance to the school. The 50th Anniversary Pavers have been laid in an area near the school hall and create the same sense of history for the students to enjoy.