Arnott Years Remembered

By the second half of the 20th Century, at the time of the College centenary, St Paul’s was a substantial and integral part of the University community. These years were a time of change and growth. By the mid-sixties, enrolments at the University of Sydney had increased to more than 15,000, and applications to St Paul’s outstripped supply many times over. The 120-150 College residents were, for the most part, undergraduates at the University of Sydney, and many of these young men came from outside Sydney. St Paul’s gave them a home away from home, just like it does today.

These post war years were overseen by Rev’d Dr (later Bishop) Felix Arnott CMG, Warden from 1946 to 1963. The changes and additions made during the Arnott years have left a lasting mark on the College, thanks to the leadership of Warden Arnott, the vision and commitment of the fellows, notably Sir Alexis Albert and Dr Charles Salisbury, and the contribution of the Paulines, including the 634 Freshers that came to College across these years.

Some notable changes during these years were; the creation of Mummers drama group and the Wine Cellar club, the opening of Dennison Wing, the Chapel and the Arnott Wing, the passing of the much loved Matron, Miss Amy Hart, and the removal of the less loved temporary structure in the Quad, known as the Hut.

Recently we invited the Freshers from the time of Warden Arnott to visit College and catch up with fellow Paulines from those foundational years. We were pleased to welcome 24 Paulines, accompanied by 11 partners, back to their old home for a reunion lunch on Sunday 16 July.

Their visit started with a tour of one of the new buildings, Graduate House. There was great interest in the current students and the future of the College and our guests enjoyed meeting current students Alex Back and Sharon Chou who were a great help conducting the tour and explaining their involvement in the life of the College.

It was then time for a few drinks and much catching up in the Quad before heading into the Junior Common Room for lunch. We were so grateful to have Freshers from 1949 up to 1962 in attendance and it was wonderful to hear their stories and reminiscences. We were delighted that during lunch Tony Scott (1957-60), and several others spoke about the more memorable events of their time at Paul’s

Most importantly, it was wonderful to see our Pauline’s meet again with old friends from their youth, and talked like it was only yesterday that they were residents at back at College.

Paulines of 1993 – 30 Years On

A rather exclusive group gathered in the JCR for a 30 year reunion dinner on Saturday 15 July. The Freshers of 1993 are actually a large group – Matt Gerber, one of the organisers, took us through the whole 1993 list and discussed who was where and who was doing what. It was pointed out that, surprisingly and happily, all of them are still in ‘good shape’. In classic Pauline tradition the room was loud with stories of the 90’s and Matt read a fitting message from the Warden of their time, Revd Dr Ivan Head, who has been undergoing hospital treatment and was unable to join them. Ivan wished them good fortune with their lives, families and future.

Great interest was shown in the future of the College and half the group visited the McMillan Building to have a quick look at Graduate House.  Many of our three-decades-out Paulines now have sons and daughters about to emerge from secondary school and there was some hope that a Sydney Uni degree might be selected and residency at Paul’s might be possible. Many of the cohort were committed with school holiday family activities or are living overseas and sent their apologies.

A key discussion, particularly afterwards in the Salisbury Bar, was how glad they were to have been at Paul’s and not anywhere else. Their time at college – “some of the best years of my life” – forged amazing friendships, founded their working lives and led to many-a-romance from across the fence at Womens and further a-field at Sancta. They were impressed with the new-look Salisbury which we remind everyone is operating as a cafe from 7.30 am weekdays and the bar opens at 7.30pm Monday to Thursday and can be accessed from the back drive between Physics and Wesley.

Paulines of 1963 – 60 Years On

A group of Freshers of 1963 and a number of their spouses gathered on 15 July at Paul’s for their 60 year reunion. This was more than a reminiscence of the past, it was a celebration of the current and future College.

The tour of the buildings and grounds for them was firstly a ‘trip down memory lane’ seeing the Arnott Wing which was brand new and shiny in 1963! They told us that as Freshers they were not allocated rooms in the new building and had to share rooms in Blacket and Radford – how times have changed! They were impressed to see the refurbishments and new facilities for co-res students and remembered the Arnott Tutorial Room as the “TV Room” with one 15-inch black and white TV for the whole College.

The Chapel was a highlight for them too. It was also a new facility along with Chapel Court rooms. Many had not heard the Flentrop pipe organ, which was installed in 1972 thanks to the generosity of the Albert Family, and Richard Morgan gave an impromptu performance for them. The 21st Century buildings impressed the gathering where they saw the Chalmers Common Room, the Refectory and then stayed on the Roof Top Terrace and Lee Common Room for drinks.

Lunch in the Dining Hall began with Grace by the Warden and a speech by Prof Nick Cowdery AO KC, one of the organisers of the day. He reminisced about their time in College, with some great stories of past ‘exploits’ and the reunions the group has been having ever since – a regular gathering at a restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown and a few key reunions back at Paul’s, the last one being 20 years ago. The genuine interest in the current students was enhanced by the support of Alex Back and Sharon Chau who were a great help conducting the tour and explaining their involvement in the life of the College. We had many questions about numbers of students and the layout of the new buildings, and “how can we support the Waddy Centre?”



Old Treasures

It is remarkable what old treasures there are out in the Pauline alumni community. We recently received a wonderful gift of memorabilia from the family of the late Dr Edward Summerbell (in College 1944-47). These 1940s college photos, in good condition, were items that were some of his cherished mementos of his time at Paul’s.

The St Paul’s College Archive is a great repository for historical material relating to the lives of the people who came and went from 1858 to the present. We are always grateful for donations of documents, photos and artefacts pertinent to the life of the College.