History of Newington


Newington College was founded in 1863. It was established as a result of a growing demand in the Wesleyan Methodist Church that an institution higher than elementary school was needed in Sydney. Rev John Manton (1807–1864) was the leading advocate and the College’s first president.

The ‘Wesleyan Collegiate Institution’ was established at Newington House on the banks of the Parramatta River at Silverwater by the former home of colonial merchant and landowner John Blaxland. The College opened its doors on 16 July 1863 with 16 students aged between eight and 22. The College was conceived as ‘…decidedly Wesleyan in its character [but] … open to the sons of parents of all religious denominations.’ The College also functioned as the home for theological training for the Methodist Church in NSW until 1914.


The need for a larger and permanent home for the College resulted in the current Stanmore campus in Sydney’s Inner West. The Founders Wing designed by leading colonial architect Thomas Rowe was built between 1874 and 1880. Seventy boys and four theological students moved from Silverwater in July 1880 and the new school, now named ‘Newington College’ was formally opened on 18 January 1881.

The College continued to grow during the following decades. Some boys undertook a classical education while a growing proportion went on to study at Sydney University, the city’s only university at the time. Others, particularly boys destined for a career in business, studied in the ‘modern’ stream and  many country boys spent a couple of years at the College to finish their education before starting working on the land.

Cricket, rugby and other sports were played from the beginning with Newington and The King’s School playing the first inter-school rugby match in 1870. Newington joined the newly established Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of New South Wales (AAGPS) in 1892. With one of the oldest school cadet units in the country—established in 1869—rifle shooting was as prominent as cricket and rugby in the years leading up to the First World War. The College was late in adopting rowing as a sport but made a spectacular debut winning the Head of the River in 1921.

The College’s magazine, now known as The Newingtonian began in 1884 and the alumni association—the Old Newingtonians’ Union—as established in 1895.


Approximately 630 former students and staff members served in Australia’s armed forces during the First World War. Of these 109 are known to have been killed. In the Second World War 815 served, of whom 58 are known to have given their lives.

Like most independent schools, Newington College was affected by the Depression. From 335 students in 1925, enrolments dropped to 260 in 1932 and remained at around that level for the rest of the 1930s. The College sought to attract new enrolments by improving facilities and in 1938, Wyvern House, the biggest building project since the Founders Wing became the College’s Preparatory School. In 1932 a standardised school uniform was adopted and a house system was introduced.


The College grew rapidly in the years following the Second World War, reaching 600 boys in 1952 and 970 by 1960. This growth was accompanied by a succession of building projects through the 1950s and early 1960s which transformed the school landscape and the quality of facilities.

A second preparatory school opened at Killara on Sydney’s North Shore in 1957 and moved to its present site in neighbouring Lindfield in 1967. In the 1970s and 1980s, academic and sporting achievements were joined by a growing emphasis on cultural activities, particularly in the performing arts and on service activities leading to the rich variety of experience that characterises school life today. At the same time the cultural background of the student body changed as a reflection of Australia’s increasingly multicultural society.


The College celebrated its Centenary in 1963 and its Sesquicentenary throughout 2013, a wonderful opportunity to learn about and share the College’s history with the Newington community.