St Mary’s Church of England Girls' School was formed on 14 September 1921 after an amalgamation of two West Perth private schools: Mrs Blanche Gouly’s Girls’ Grammar School which was operating at Meerilinga,1186 Hay Street (the building is still there today) and The Alexandra High School which was run by Miss Emily A M Hilfirty at St Mary’s, West Perth Parish Hall.

In the middle of 1921 Mrs Gouly had written to St Mary’s Vestry. The lease on the school’s buildings was running out and Mrs Gouly enquired as to the possibility of St Mary’s, West Perth Parish taking over the school. The only way to enable her request was to merge the Girls’ Grammar with the Alexandra High School which was already running out of the Parish Hall. And so, the new school. St Mary’s, was founded.

Mrs Gouly became the Head of the St Mary’s Upper School and Miss Hilfirty became the Head of the Lower School. The Rector of St Mary’s, The Rev'd C L (Tom) Riley, became the school’s first Principal and Chairman of the Board of Governors.

At the end of 1921 St Mary’s was joined by Miss Shepherd and some of the students from Cowandilla School at Bellvue Terrace, which had been closed by the Anglican Sisters. Other staff and students proceeded to Perth College in Mount Lawley.

In February 1923 St Mary’s appointed its first Headmistress, Miss Ethel Dannatt. In September 1923 Roseworthy School, conducted by Miss Edith Tothill at 64 Ord Street, joined St Mary’s. Miss Tothill brought 42 pupils with her and was appointed to teach Form 1.

Can you help?

The School Archivist is interested in any information about the staff and pupils of the Girls’ Grammar School, Alexandra High School and Roseworthy School. We are also seeking information on St Mary’s staff in the early 1920s:

  • Mrs Blanche Cockburn Gouly
  • Miss Emily Anna Maria Hilfirty
  • Miss Ethel H Dannatt
  • Miss Edith Tothill
  • Miss Beryl Hamilton
  • Miss Shepherd
  • Miss Able
  • Miss Margaret Saunders – Art Teacher

If you can help, please contact the Archivist on 9341 9113 or by email.