In 1895, Rev. Plume purchased six acres of land at Hornsby Junction on Peats Ferry Road (now the Pacific Highway). Hornsby was selected as the site for the School as it offered all the benefits of country life combined with the convenience of the city. Over the course of the year, Rev. Plume engaged the services of local architect Howard Joseland to build a residence with a dining hall and school room attached. The floor plan of the residence closely resembled that of Stokesleigh, the homestead in Kurrajong Heights where Barker College was located. By sharing the residence with their pupils, the Plumes ensured each boy was considered part of their family.
In January 1896, Rev. and Mrs Plume, along with their twenty boarders, left Kurrajong Heights to begin the academic year on the new site at Hornsby. A cook, housekeeper and handyman also made the journey and were employed to take care of daily life. Visiting staff were also engaged to assist Rev. Plume with the teaching.
Pupils were divided into four grades – seniors, sub-seniors, juniors and sub-juniors. Organisation of the grades depended upon the most effective working conditions rather than criterion based on academic achievement or age. The school room had blackboards at either end allowing Rev. Plume to teach at one end and a visiting teacher at the other. Senior pupils would often work independently in the middle of the room. Divinity, English, Latin, French, Arithmetic, Algebra, Euclid and Geography were consistently studied by Barker pupils, with a number of other subjects, such as History, Botany and Greek being available upon request.
Since its establishment at Hornsby, Rev. Plume was under constant pressure to increase the size of the Barker. Enrolments rose from 20 to 25 in 1899 and by 1901, there 35 pupils were enrolled. To accommodate the increasing number of pupils, a small additional school room was built, a further two acres of land was purchased and a number of small boarding houses were erected. Apart from the original residence designed by Joseland, none of these building exist today. The increase in enrolments also forced Rev. Plume to seek assistance with teaching. Consequently, in 1899, two ex-pupils were employed as permanent teachers.
Thus begins the story of Barker’s expansion and growth at Hornsby. Over the past 120 years, the School has developed from six acres to 50 acres, with enrolments reaching 2000 pupils from Kindergarten to Year 12.
Reference: Braga, Stuart, Barker College - A History (John Ferguson, 1978)
Captions for photos:
Illuminated Address: Illuminated address presented to Rev. and Mrs Plume upon their departure from Kurrajong Heights to Hornsby in 1896. The address is evidence of the high regard the residents of Kurrajong Heights had for the Plumes.
Plan: Floor plan of the original residence built at Hornsby. This residence, known since the 1970s as Stokesleigh, is now used as accommodation for the Head of Boarding. The school room and dining hall were destroyed by fire in 1935.