A Brief History of Parade College

Towards the end of 1868, four Christian brothers arrived in Melbourne at the invitation of Bishop Gould. They were Brothers P.A. Treacy, D.F. Bodkin, J.B. Lynch and P.J. Nolan. At the beginning of 1869 they began teaching in a small primary school at the rear of St. Francis’ Church in Lonsdale Street, and they lived in temporary rented quarters in Fitzroy.

Immediately, they began planning for the establishment of a permanent foundation, monastery and school on land they had procured in Victoria Parade, East Melbourne. Their ambitions were realized when, in 1871 (January 29), their fine new college was blessed by Bishop Gould in the presence of the venerable Archbishop Polding who had journeyed from Sydney for the occasion. Thus was founded Parade College, dedicated to Mary Immaculate.

The building was an imposing bluestone structure of three storeys, the design of W.W. Wardell, architect of St. Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne, and St. Mary’s in Sydney. On the opening day, January 30, over one hundred boys were enrolled and the number increased steadily as accommodation became available. Melbourne’s scattered population at the time was 150,000 of whom 40,000 were Catholic.

As more Brothers arrived from Ireland, the number of boys in attendance increased to the point where, in 1902, during the Headmastership of Br J.B. Nugent, the building was extended to complete the original design. So, it stands today.

In 1878, Parade presented its first pupils for Matriculation and its academic success in this, and Civil Service examinations, established it as one of the leading Colleges in the state. Its ex-pupils became increasingly prominent in the Church, legislative, professional and commercial life. The Honour Board at the College today lists the names of two hundred priests and ninety Christian Brothers who passed through its walls.

In a notable tribute to the brothers and their pupils of this early era, Dr Brownlees Chancellor of Melbourne University declared: “The thanks of the whole community are due to the Christian Brothers because their system supplied that element which would ensure the stability and greatness of the State. Not only did they excite admiration, for their splendid teaching, but also for their noble and exemplary lives.”

Nineteen fourteen (1914) saw the foundation of the Old Paradians Association, a body which was to fill a very significant role in the life of the College as the years advanced. In 1953 when additional classroom accommodation became a pressing necessity, the O.P.A. took up the challenge presented to them by the Headmaster, when they purchased a beautiful property at Alphington and handed it over free of debt to the College. On this site was established Parade Preparatory College, dedicated as a memorial to their members who had died in World Wars 1 and 2. Junior classes were transferred there from the East Melbourne site.

The 1960’s saw the College occupy the classroom block of the old Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Albert Street, East Melbourne. As the Centenary Year, 1971, approached with the number of boys in attendance exceeding 800, further extensions became imperative, and the idea of transferring the College from its confined inner city site to a more commodious location on the outer city fringe, began to gain strength and favour.

Then in 1965, The Provincial Council of the Brothers, under the guidance of Brother T.B. Garvey (Provincial) made eighty acres of land available at Bundoora for such a project. A building and land development programme, planned by Messrs R. Stella and Associates, was undertaken, and in 1968 the Senior School moved from East Melbourne to Bundoora. The old building, hallowed by the labours of the pioneers, was to continue its work for Catholic Education as Cathedral College. In its beautiful setting at Bundoora, Parade is able to cater adequately for the educational and cultural needs of its boys, and its recreational facilities rival those of any College in the state.

In 1983, when the aggregate enrolment exceeded 1,200, a further major development was made possible with the purchase of Edmund Rice College, built in the 1950’s as part of the Christian Brothers’ Training College. When necessary adaptations were completed in 1984, junior secondary classes were transferred there.

In 1987, when the total enrolment had reached some 1,400 students, the senior students (Yrs 11 and 12) were transferred to the Edmund Rice Campus. The Mt Sion Campus accommodated 3 classes of Yr 7, 3 classes of Yr 8, all of Yr 9 and Yr 10. Primary classes at the Alphington Campus had been phased out over the preceding two years and hence Alphington now housed five Yr 7 classes and five Yr 8 classes. The College was now a multi-campus Secondary School of some 1,420 students and 135 staff.

During 1987, a “Regionalization Working Party” was established by the Provincial Council of the Christian Brothers to consider the future of the Alphington Campus and it recommended to the Council that the Alphington Campus be sold and that a new Campus be built at Bundoora to accommodate all Parade students on the one site from the start of the 1989 school year. Therefore, during 1988, a building program was commenced and completed. On February 6, 1989, “Waterford Campus” opened, housing all the Year 7 and 8 classes (544 students) Mt Sion Campus housed the Year 9 and 10 students (540 students) and the Edmund Rice Campus catered for the Year 11 and 12 students (over 400 students).

In the last two decades, significant developments have continued, keeping pace with enrolment and curriculum requirements. Extensive changes to the Mt Sion building included renovations to the Westcourt Wing incorporating reception area, staff rooms, offices and meeting rooms. A modern canteen became part of the newly built Yarangabee Centre which comprises a Functions Room, Food Technology Centre and canteen. The former canteen was replaced by a modern tiered Computer Centre and two general purpose classrooms. The first floor houses language and maths centres. Westcourt Walk provides weather protection outside the Waterford and Mt Sion buildings.

The most significant recent development was the sale of a large eastern part of the property including the Edmund Rice College, subsequently demolished. This plan necessitated the construction of a new Edmund Rice Building which was completed and occupied in January 2001. The building was formally blessed on Friday February 16, 2001 by Bishop Hilton Deakin and opened by Brother Michael Godfrey, Province Leader of the Christian Brothers.

The commencement of 2001 saw the introduction of Vertical Pastoral Care and Upper and Lower House Tutor groups. The four houses retained the names of the four founding Brothers; Bodkin, Hughes, Lynch and Treacy.

Ongoing beautification of the grounds included the establishment of Belltower Court, Greening Terrace, Nolan Court and Foundation Square. In 2004 College Hall was established consisting of a Great Hall and a smaller hall called The Atrium. It holds 3 basketball courts and facilities for the full range of indoor sports. The Great Hall can seat well over 2000 people for assemblies etc. An indigenous garden and reflection area was established nearby in 2010.

In 2008 the Catholic Education Office asked the College to take on as a second campus the Preston site of Samaritan College which was due for closure due to falling numbers. The second campus was under way in January 2009 with streams of Years 7 – 9 and the VCAL students in Yrs 10-12. Students wishing to do VCE move seamlessly to Bundoora for Yrs 10 – 12.

Late in 2008 the College received a small grant to establish a Trade Training Centre for Certificates II and III in Building and Construction and started delivering courses in building, brick-laying, electro-technology and furnishings at the start of 2010. The facility is open to students from all local schools. The College also took on nearly 100 students from St Joseph’s College, Melbourne, as it progressively closed down 2009/10.

In 2010 a major project was undertaken to harvest the rainwater on the property for drought-proofing the maintenance of gardens and sports surfaces. Six large tanks and various smaller tanks contain nearly 3 million litres which can sustain the grounds for 8 months of drought. In 2011 construction started on an artificial sports surface, Bunjil Park, in front of College Hall. It houses a soccer oval, athletics circuit track and sprint straight, 4 tennis courts and two netball/basketball courts. The water on this surface is also harvested.

At the end of 2010 the College celebrated 140 years of service to Catholic education. A sculpture was erected in Belltower Court to mark the event and a statue of Edmund Rice erected at Preston.

Over the last decade there has been much work on the roadway and car parks at the Bundoora campus. The Ambrose Treacy Oval at Preston was realigned and refurbished and all ovals were part of a maintenance program. In 2013 the Greening Auditorium was completely renovated. Plumbing teaching facilities have been established at both campuses. Air-conditioning runs in all buildings across both campuses and all teaching spaces have access to current and relevant educational ICT resources.

With the original master plan now completed, the College has drawn up a new master plan for development to ensure our facilities and resources are of the highest quality to meet the needs of our students. An initial focus was a complete refurbishment of the original Mount Sion complex including the Callan Wing Extension which includes a VCE Study Centre and flyover to the Edmund Rice Campus. There was also extensive landscaping in the main Quadrangle.

In 2018 the College opened the new Nash Learning Centre and the Treacy Oval artificial surface at the Preston campus. Extensions to the College Chapel were also completed and contemporary sculptures of the founding Brothers were dedicated at both campuses.

In 2019, a Food Technology Centre was completed at the Preston Campus and a state of the art Fitness Centre (Peter Bedford Fitness Centre) and redevelopment of the Wright Oval into a full sized synthetic pitch were completed at Bundoora. In 2019 our College Principal, Br Denis Moore cfc retired after 25 years of distinguished service as College Principal. College Hall was renamed in his honour: Dr Denis J Moore Hall.

All this history together with the plans for the future, place Parade College in a strong position to continue to offer a world of opportunities for young men.