Newcastle East Public School

Australia's oldest school - since 1816

Telephone02 4929 2911

School History

Newcastle East Public School has a long and proud history of provision of quality education to the children of inner-city Newcastle, stretching back to the earliest days of the settlement of Newcastle, Australia's second oldest city.  The school plays a central role in the history of education in Australia, and has served its diverse community for two centuries.

1816 - Schoolteacher, Henry Wrensford and seventeen convict children aged 3-13 yrs. commenced education in Newcastle. Wrensford was a convict on a conditional pardon. At that time, Newcastle had about 400 people with 38 children. The school started In a slab hut near Watt & Bolton Streets.

1820 - Wrensford became a free man and went back to Sydney. He was replaced by another convict, Samuel Dell. There were now 33 children at Christ Church School. In 1826 the control of the school changed from the government to the church. By the early 1830's overcrowding led to the school moving to the site at the corner of Church & Bolton Sts.

1859 - Some parents wanted a government controlled school and so an additional school, Newcastle Public School, was opened in Brown Street, later to move to Tyrrell Street.

1883 - The success of the Public School, now a Superior school in Tyrrell St. led to the State Government taking back control of the church school and renaming it Newcastle East Public School.

1966 - The 150th anniversary of continuous education was celebrated, and a history of the school was written by Dr. E. Braggart.


1878 - The foundation stone for the new building of Newcastle Public School was laid by Mr. Clarence Hannell. The final cost was 10,000. The architect was Mr. G.A. Mansfield. There were boys', girls;", infants' and babies' rooms. The boys' headmaster was Mr. Willis and the girls' headmistress was Miss Shield. Over 800 pupils were enrolled.

1911 - Newcastle Public School was closed, leaving the High School to expand. By 1912 there were over 300 high school pupil and the first school magazine 'The Novocastrian' was published.

1934 - Newcastle Boys' High was built at Waratah. The School on the Hill was now given the name Newcastle Boys' Junior High School.

1973 - Closure of Junior High and transfer of pupils to new building at Lambton.

1974-81 - Building used by the Society of Artists and other groups as workshops. Renovation of building commenced. $920.000 set aside for this purpose. It is recorded by the National Trust.

SEP 13th, 1982 - First day of Newcastle East Public School at its new site in the School on the Hill.

 2000-2010 - School's drawing area was further restricted to manage increased enrolment pressure, due to changing demographics in Newcastle's inner-city.

2016 - NEPS will be Australia's first school to celebrate its bicentenary

Further information can be sourced at the Newcastle East Public School Wikipedia article.