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News > Docco's Diary > Docco's Diary: The 75th Birthday of the School in 1922

Docco's Diary: The 75th Birthday of the School in 1922

David Docwra takes a look back to 1922 when our School was celebrating its 75th birthday.

We are celebrating 175 years (1847-2022) this year, but it is interesting to look back 100 years to 1922 when our School was celebrating its 75th birthday.

Our School was still feeling the effects of the deaths of 173 old scholars in the ‘Great War’ and War Memorial Hall, in their memory, was under construction, but progress was slow.

The Jury Fountain (in memory of George Rischbieth Jury, who was killed in World War I) had been built and the new classroom block on the Southern side of the “Big Quad” was in its third year of use.


The House system had been introduced by Headmaster Bickersteth, who was in the third year of his Headmastership, but the Day Houses were named Wait’s, Irwin’s, Wood’s and Price’s following the tradition in some English Schools where the Houses are named after the Housemaster. It was not until the beginning of 1924 that Irwin’s House became Hawkes House, Wait’s became Short House, Hill’s had become Wood’s which became Da Costa House, McMillan’s had become Price’s which became Farrell House. Late in 1923 the Council of Governors decided to name the Houses after benefactors and founders of our School.


Our 1922 First XI cricket team was strong. It was the only time we had two cricketers in the First XI that went on to play for Australia – PK Lee and HC Nitschke. We defeated Prince Alfred College in the 46th Intercollegiate game by an innings and 38 runs. This margin was a record at the time and was our fourth victory in a row. PK Lee took 9 wickets and made 89 runs. After this match we had won 25 intercollegiate cricket games, PAC had won 19, and 2 had been drawn. CB Sangster was also in the team. He went on to play for South Australia. The First XI had a tour to Melbourne. On this tour CB Sangster took 8 wickets in Melbourne Grammar School’s innings.

There were 631 boys in the School. 431 in the Senior School and 200 in the Preparatory (now Junior) School. We had 189 senior and junior boarders. Senior School boarders were in three Houses: School (59), Wyatt’s (43) and Brooks (28).

1922 was the year that one of our greatest old scholars Howard Florey arrived in England to take up the Rhodes Scholarship that he had won in 1921. Later he was to share the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Sir Ernst Chain and Sir Alexander Fleming for his role in the development of penicillin. Florey’s discoveries, along with those of Chain and Fleming, are estimated to have saved over 200 million lives, and he is regarded by the Australian scientific and medical community as one of its greatest figures. He had left the School in 1916. Whilst at St Peter’s College he was a School Prefect. He won a range of academic prizes and scholarships and he played in the Intercollegiate Cricket, Football and Tennis Teams. He was Captain of his District (Souths) at a time when boys were in Districts rather than Houses. Many old scholars would remember studying Physics and Chemistry in the Florey Building which was completed in 1966 and opened in 1967 and named after Sir Howard Florey.

At Speech Day 1922, the Bishop of Adelaide mentioned “the value of teamwork” on and off the sports field. He talked about St Peter’s College: “Their sports had shown them the value of teamwork – every man playing for his side. They had shown the importance of playing together and knowing each other’s play…. There were a great many boys who were not able to excel on the sports field, but what they might do in school might mean more to the School. They could put in good steady work and exercise a strong and upright influence in the School…… He urged them not to forget the value of teamwork in school…….”

100 years later is not “teamwork” for the boys of St Peter’s College as important in 2022 and it was in 1922?

Researched and written by David Docwra

David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service and is fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years. David remains connected to St Peter’s College and regularly provides historical articles for the St Peter’s Old Collegians newsletters.

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