knox grammar school

Story Wall

Old Boys share their fondest memories of their time at Knox as they wish our School a very Happy 100th Birthday!

Hear from Old Boys

We still bleed Black and Blue

'“What I loved most about my time at Knox was meeting so many terrific people and making so many life-long friends, most of whom still put up with me today, some after 50 years or more of suffering!

Our mates are a pretty rum bunch. Journalists, doctors, lawyers, accountants, authors, teachers, farmers, actors, engineers, inventors, museum designers, truck drivers, carpenters, mechanics, academics, builders, real estate…you name it, we have it. We thoroughly enjoy our five year reunions and look forward to tall tales and truth from the legendary past. We applaud the numerous triumphs and successes of our cohort and support those who have gone through tougher times.

We still bleed black and blue.

A few highlights: Towards the end of 1976, Year 10 students attended an outdoor education camp. It was a particularly hot summer and, as a result, there were numerous bushfires in the Hawkesbury River region, some of which threatened the camp and neighbouring properties. The decision was made to evacuate the camp to ensure the safety of students, however a small core of volunteers stayed to establish a small brigade to help protect the camp and assist neighbours. No doubt it was traumatic for our parents at the time but we had a wonderful time carting our water-filled backpacks [great rugby training] and flaying at the oncoming tide of flames. We emerged a few days later exhausted, filthy but delighted that we had been able to assist in some small way.

Rugby and Rugby tours were a great highlight for me. I have fond memories of trips to the Gold Coast with a great bunch of fellow enthusiasts, training incessantly, playing good footy and playing hard as well.

Knox was privileged in 1978 to have Julius Sumner Miller, a renowned physicist, at the School as a visiting teacher. Sumner Miller, famed for his catchphrase, “Why is it so”, was intrigued and perplexed by the intricacies of the rugby scrum and was known to attend 1st XV training to better understand the complexities of that most wonderful embodiment of teamwork. [In my opinion, there is little better than a good scrum.]"

Rob Johnson (OKG78)

OKGA President

Knox: what an eye opener for me

In 1948 my parents moved to the family farm at Cattai and aged nine, I was sent as a boarder at Knox Prep, where I was placed in class 4B.

The 4B classroom was adjacent to Ewan House main entrance hall and it was where junior prep was held each weeknight.

To say I was a shy, naive lad would be an understatement. So much of what I was to experience differed from my previous three years of schooling when I lived with my parents on a dairy farm at Fairy Hill, a rural district located about 10km from the northern NSW town of Casino.

The local public primary school I attended was a one-teacher, single room building with an enrolment of about 20 pupils. I was the only one in my class for the three years that I attended the school.

What an eye opener for me to enter a school with not just 20 in the school, but more than 20 in the class!

As a boarder I was allocated a locker for my clothes. A young lad named Ian MacPherson had the adjoining locker. We remain firm friends to this day.

My bed for the first year was in the junior dormitory. For the next two years it was on the veranda off the senior dormitory.

Some of the many things I had to adjust to were:

  • Getting dressed in a suit and tie each day.
  • Wearing shoes and socks to class every day.
  • Wearing a strange looking straw hat.
  • Queuing to shower each night and for the morning cold shower.
  • Daily locker and bed making inspections.
  • Daily shoe cleaning on wooden benches in the yard where the day boys sat to eat their lunch.
  • Assembling on the veranda before each meal in Lion, Leopard, Lemur or Lynx patrol groups where we were inspected for tidy clothes, neat hair and clean hands and shoes.
  • Dining at allocated tables. I recall that meals were generally tasty and plentiful – especially when ice cream was served. Not so when sago (frogs eggs) pudding or macaroni were served!
  • Walking in double file to St John’s Church in Wahroonga on Sundays where we deposited our penny in the collection plate during the service and returned to school following the children’s sermon.
  • Writing compulsory letters to my parents on weekends when I didn’t go on leave.
  • Occasionally walking to the Upper School during the weekend for a swim in the pool. It was here that I was given lessons and learnt to swim.
  • Observing some students arriving at school on bikes – not horses!

At various times, simple schoolyard games included marbles, cards and jacks. Small balsa wood gliders were used in attempts to perform air loops. Dinky toy cars were treasured for a time. A popular place to play with them was under the hedge of trees beside the path leading to Cleveland Street.

Lack of attention in class or similar misdemeanours could be punished with the student having to write, 50 or more times, lines such as “I must pay attention in class” or similar relevant words.

Another punishment required the student to pick 50 or more “rat tails”. These were a narrow spike seed cluster of a weed which grew throughout the lawns of the school.

In 1951 my parents moved to Pennant Hills and for my final five years at the Upper School I became a day boy in North House (later Reid).

Friendships made in the Prep School were strengthened here and new long lasting, continuing friendships made.

I value my eight years at Knox. The education, self discipline, need for co-operation, ability to accept responsibilities, leadership skills, ethics, sports activities, friendships and the importance of showing respect to others prepared me for a very satisfying career as a registered surveyor in private practice for 45 years in the central west town of Parkes.


Though far from thee my footsteps bend ....... there is in my heart a call first heard in the assembly hall ........ Later on in field and school ..... I learnt to understand the call ....... As through life I wend my way ....... do not think that I’ll forget lessons that I treasure yet:

Sic Virile Agitur, Virile Agitur.

Richard (Dick) Arndell (OKG 1955)

Boarding at the Prep

"It was in 1942 that my twin Michael and I walked through the main entrance to Knox Prep. Little did I realise 82 years later, Knox had only been established for some 18 years. My parents were caught up with WWII and bundled us up, at the age of four years and 10 months, into Knox Prep as Boarders.

Looking back, I must say I enjoyed the boarding experience. My memories include going to sleep with our school clothes and shoes at the end of the bed in order to have an air raid drill at midnight in the basement of the Prep School. There were trenches dug around the perimeter of the grounds. The wife of the Headmaster, Mrs Haslett, would, on many occasions, invite Boarders up to her dining room on Sunday nights for supper and she would read us excerpts from Doctor Doolittle while we knitted rope for camouflage nets.

Other highlights were the birthday parties. On one occasion, I was invited to John Fields’ birthday. A Rolls Royce picked us up from outside the entrance to Ewan House and drove us to the City Club on Rowe St, Sydney. On another, Phillip Deaton’s birthday was held at the Manly Hotel (owned by Mr Deaton); a sumptuous display of goodies was laid out in one of the dining rooms and we all received a gold pass to visit the Manly Wharf Amusement Park.

We were well fed in those years; however a monthly line-up at the dispensary to have a dose of castor oil made me appreciate any type of food. Our afternoons were spent playing sport, tree climbing and making small villages amongst the roots of the grand trees which had been planted many years ago. There was a line of camphor laurel trees running from the Cleveland Street entrance to the Assembly Hall, about 100m. I held the time record for going from one end to the other without putting my feet on the ground.

School classes were good; my favourite teacher was Miss Stow. I can remember in a cricket match against the teachers, I had Miss Stow LBW. Unfortunately the ball hit her ankle and drew blood. Some years later after Miss Stow passed away, I was able to organise a clock (the Stow Clock) in her memory. It is located in the tower building overlooking Yeldham Oval near where her classroom was.

On Sunday mornings, we all had to scrub up and go to Church. We were given a coin to put into the plate. However, I must have had a hole in my pocket as on occasions I could not find the coin.

Looking back, I really enjoyed my time as a Prep Boarder. Towards the end of WWII, I became a Day boy and moved to the Upper School (and long trousers) in 1950."

Robert Constable (OKG54)

I felt valued

"The thing that I loved about my time at Knox is my mates. I was never going to be a Rhodes Scholar but I was accepted and felt valued for the boy/man I became. So much fun was had on sporting fields or in the musicals but the best thing is that I still have so many mates that I met over 40 years ago…that’s priceless."

Gus Worland (OKG86)

Old Boys still together after 70 years

“In mid-1952, when I was almost ten-years-old, my parents moved from Melbourne to Sydney and sent me to Knox. At the time, I thought that my life had been ruined. A group photograph of ‘Gary’ Cooper’s Form IVB at the Prep School that year shows me as a skinny, bespectacled boy wearing a Victorian double-breasted school suit – standing to one side, seemingly quite out of place. But I got over that, settling in at Knox with good friends and a supportive atmosphere that catered for all sorts of talents and dispositions. The Class of 1959 emerged seven and a half years later to pursue a wide range of careers and personal priorities. Some of us OKG59ers – now elderly gents – meet regularly for lunch on the first Monday of each month. We are a motley crew with diverse backgrounds, but friendships forged at Knox still bind us together.

The following photo was taken at our informal OKG59er lunch in November 2022. All nine ‘boys’ present had been at Knox Prep together 70 years ago. Clockwise from the right: Malcolm ‘Jock’ MacGregor, Adrian Stark, Richard ‘Vic’ Flint, David ‘Ed’ Donnelley, Robert Felton, Ramsay Moodie, Brian Orr, John ‘Bunny’ Bryant (deceased 2023) and Roger ‘Quent’ Rigby."

Brian Orr (OKG59)

Happy Birthday Knox: I'm older than you!

Marsden Hordern (OKG39)

Knox is unique

"I look back very fondly at my time at Knox principally because of the fantastic memories and strength of the friendships that were forged. The ongoing strength and relevance of the OKGA network and its associated clubs is rare amongst other schools and is further evidence of the impact of the School on people's formative years."

Oscar Alcock (OKG14)

Forged in the fire

"Fortune will chide us and get us some tumbles;
Mingled caresses and kicks is her rule;
But she’ll not break the strong link that here binds us
Forged in the fire that we tended at school."

Tony Osman (OKG57)

Years made extra special by two teachers

"My Knox years ’54 to ’62 were made extra special by two teachers:

John Meikle (OKG50) in 3rd class made Arithmetic fun; by the class building an outline of the property with stones in a large sandpit at the western side of the Prep School, thereby tricking us into learning about yards to inches scaling, and by each row in the class competing against the others to most quickly recite the times tables.

Barrie Blackwell (OKG56), after being School Captain, Barrie returned as a teacher. But as a swimming coach he made a great impression on me; by devoting a decade of his Christmas holidays to boys who wanted to improve their swimming. Barrie developed our swimming ability every weekday for two hours in the morning and in the afternoon, with time trials on Friday evenings."

David Stark (OKG62)

Knox helped shape the man I became

"On the first Tuesday of February 1951, along with twenty other boys, I started in first form at Knox Grammar Preparatory School. There was no Kindergarten at Knox in those years, so we arrived with grounding from various ‘feeder’ kindergartens, including WPS and, in my case, Aberfeldie at Turramurra. That was the start of a 70+ year association with the School, OKGA and Senior Knoxonians. Friends made in first grade are regular coffee or lunch companions to this day.

If pressed for one highlight from my eleven years as a Knox student, it might be my time in the Cadets. Aristotle said, ‘He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.’ The Cadet Unit brought me out of my somewhat shy self, gave me confidence, self-discipline, and the opportunity to develop leadership skills. I often reflected on how these traits helped me in life after school.

Happy Centenary, Knox! Thank you for helping to shape the man I became."

Ken Powell (OKG61)

It feels like I never really left Knox

"When I arrived to board at Knox in 1959 the School was just thirty five years old so as we approach its centenary, some sixty five years later, it is only natural to reflect on what Knox has meant to me.

As a Boarder in Gillespie House for my first three years and a Day boy for my last year I have always thought that I experienced the best Knox has to offer and it didn’t stop there. Lifelong friendships were formed both at the School and later playing with the Old Boys Rugby Club, serving on the Old Boys and Senior Knox Old Boys Committees and as a Member of the School Council. As enjoyable as those years have been, the real reward from my years at Knox came when at the age of twenty four I had the confidence and skill set to leap into the unknown and accept roles in Asia and Europe that would see me travel the world extensively for the next 45 years. Along with my parents, Knox gave me not only a good education but also the opportunity to learn leadership, accept responsibility and the courage to have the strength of my convictions. Qualities that have stood me in good stead and for which I shall be forever grateful.

It seems unfathomable today to recall we spent many Friday afternoons at the Rifle Range located on the School premises shooting 22 caliber Enfield Rifles at the Railway Embankment behind what is now known as the Middle Academy Building.

There was a Master in Charge, whose name escapes me, whose main responsibility was to make sure that we stopped shooting whenever a train was approaching. It was always the unwritten responsibility of those who were waiting their turn to shoot to engage the aforementioned Master in meaningful conversation whilst the rest of us blazed away at the Railway stanchions and power lines. I’ve always wondered what the people in the houses on the other side of the line made of all the lead that must have showered their homes and gardens but to my knowledge there were never any complaints. Shooting must have been part of the Inter-House Competition because I was awarded Gillespie House Colours for Shooting in 1959 and 1960. I was also proud of the Crossed Rifles on the sleeve of my Cadet uniform which I think were earned on the Field Firing Range during Cadet Camp in Singleton.

Knox continues to be a major part of my life. So far this year, I have had lunch with a group of my fellow leavers, participated in an Old Boys Classic Car Display, visited the grave in Yokohama Japan of Errol Wannan (OKG38) who died there in WWII, had afternoon tea in Brisbane with my Old Boys Rugby Coach Jim Graham (OKG50) and breakfast in Noosa with a gaggle of Sunshine Coast Old Boy friends who left between 1954 and 1965.

Needless to say my son was at Knox for twelve years and my grandson is enrolled to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps.

Sometimes It feels like I never really left Knox."

Alan Foulkes (OKG62)

John Laurie in 2022 wearing his Knox blazer.

Cricket in the 1950s

John Laurie (OKG52) was one of five boys to attend Knox and recalls a love of schoolyard cricket. During his time at Knox he played in both the 1st and 2nd XI teams.

"Being one of five boys; I was the eldest, the eldest four were all born within a year or two of each other and so from a very early age we played cricket…really encouraged by our mother.

She passed on this enthusiasm and interest in cricket to us at a very early age and indeed played cricket with us. And so, we were playing cricket from about the ages of four, five or six with her. We’d play after school, we played before school, we played during the weekend, we’d have test matches amongst the four of us.

I was the left-handed opening bat and my 1st XI coach Mr Horne bowled a very good out-swinger and he had a lot of influence on me because he said, 'My advice to you is you take guard on Leg Stump or Middle and Leg and just be very conscious that your movements should be down the pitch, not across the pitch.'

He probably gave me the best advice of any coach I’ve ever had. I was a very good hooker of the ball. I had a very good cut.

What Knox used to do was have trial games. We didn't seem to play other schools so much, but what we did do was organise trial games between different Knox teams.

We got washed out from time to time. They wanted you to play if you could play but sometimes… it was a ‘sticky wicket’ because that's what it really was at Knox because if you think about the topography, the water was going to come down from the hill and it was going to go away into the drain near the railway line, but if there was a lot of rain, we got washed out from time to time."

John Laurie (OKG52)

None of this would have happened without the start I got at Knox

Bruce Wood receiving his OAM in 2022, pictured with New South Wales Governor Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC.

Bruce Wood OAM (OKG74) has devoted his life to cricket and in 2022 was awarded an Order of the Medal of Australia for Services to Cricket.

"My mum used to say that [my twin brother] Steve and I were so keen on our cricket that we would have ‘post-mortems’ of the Saturday game until about Tuesday.

Steve and I would talk about all the things that happened and what we could have done better, and how we got it all over that guy and all that, and then we'd switch into prep mode on Wednesday.

'Right, we're playing Aloys this week, they've got this guy, he likes cover drives...' so we’d talk about cricket all week. It was debriefing and then planning. Bruce Wood

One thing I want to say is thank you to Knox, as I've made a life out of cricket and none of this would have happened without the start I got at Knox from 1967 onwards, and I think that's really important.

If I didn't get that initial 11A gig and do well and Prep 1st XI and get Prep Colours and so on, I wouldn’t have fell in love with the game and formed lifelong friendships.

I don't think any of this other stuff would have happened, so I think there’s an actual pathway / a sliding doors moment. If that didn't happen, I probably wouldn't be here."

Bruce Wood OAM (OKG74)

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