History of Melbourne High School
Melbourne High School originally opened in 1905 at the top of Spring Street (where the Australasian College of Surgeons building is now located). The school was co-educational and was the first state secondary school in Victoria. It was originally named the Melbourne Continuation School. The intention was to cover the gap between state schools (which may have had classes up to year 8) and the University of Melbourne, hence the expression ‘Continuation’. Prior to 1905, post year 8 or secondary education was the sole domain of private church schools.
Melbourne High School took over the Model School building, which was constructed in 1854. The Model School closed at the end of 1904. The first Melbourne High School Principal was Joseph Hocking.
In 1927, the boys moved out to the new ‘castle’ school building at Forrest Hill, South Yarra. The boys actually marched from Spring Street to South Yarra to their new building. The girls eventually moved to Albert Park in 1934 and this became the Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School.
The four Houses at Melbourne High School (since 1928) are:
Como: Named after the historic property on the east side of Chapel Street.
Forrest: Named after Charles Forrest, first owner of the current school site (1840).
Waterloo: This was the name of Charles Forrest’s cottage on the current school site.
Yarra: In recognition of the Yarra River, this flows near the school.
For many years, Melbourne High School has been a selective entry school for boys in years 9 to 12. The main entrance exam is taken by students in year 8 for entry into year 9 the following year. Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School operates in the same way. As a result, both schools have a strong academic reputation. In 2009, Melbourne High School achieved a median ENTER of 95.85, which is the highest of any Victorian school in recorded history. Two other select entry state schools, Nossal and Susan Cory, opened in 2010.
The Melbourne High School Archives Room is located at the top of the tower and was named after John Elden in 2006. John had an unbroken link with the school from 1932 until his death in 2010. John collected a great deal of material over many years and wrote several unpublished books on topics related to the school.
The Archive holds student academic records (1905–1996), photographs, magazines, books (by current and former staff and students) as well as memorabilia and uniforms. The original Melbourne High magazine was called OURS and was first published in 1907. The last edition was published in 1927. The following year, the new magazine The Unicorn was published. This magazine continues to be published annually. In 1988, the weekly school newsletter was first published as the regular communication to parents and students. This newsletter was called OURS, in recognition of the earlier magazine.
Donations of school related material is welcome. Please contact the School Archivist, email.
Researchers are welcome to visit the Archive Room, but an appointment is necessary.
Former school historian, Dr Alan Gregory, has written a comprehensive history of Melbourne High for the school’s centenary in 2005 entitled Strong Like Its Pillars. He has also written a biography of two Melbourne High Principals, Brigadier George Langley and former test cricketer, Bill Woodfull. These books are available from the MHS Old Boys Association>>.
The Melbourne Continuation School
View of MHS from Darling Street c.1930s
Form 4F c.1955