John Curtin College of the Arts

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John Curtin College of the Arts
The main entrance to the school.
The main entrance to the school.
Fremantle, W.A
Coordinates 32°02′55″S 115°45′26″E / 32.0487°S 115.7573°E / -32.0487; 115.7573Coordinates: 32°02′55″S 115°45′26″E / 32.0487°S 115.7573°E / -32.0487; 115.7573
Type Public, Co-educational
Motto Learning for life
Established 1956
Principal Mitchell Mackay
Enrolment 1,106 (9 February 2015)[1]
Campus Suburban
Colour(s) Navy blue & white

John Curtin College of the Arts located in a corner block with Ellen Steet on its southern side, and East Street to its east, is a six-year high school with local student intake from the greater Fremantle area, and intake for gifted and talented arts and soccer programmes from across Western Australia. The school currently has 1,106 students attending.[1]

School history[edit]

Originally named John Curtin High School to commemorate John Curtin, the late local federal MP and 14th Prime Minister of Australia, the school was built at an estimated cost of 430,000 to amalgamate the overcrowded Fremantle Boys' and Princess May Girls' schools, the two state secondary schools serving the Fremantle area.[2] The foundation stone was laid on 29 October 1954 by Premier Hawke.[3] Jack Howieson, principal of Fremantle Boys', was appointed the initial principal. In February 1956, classes began in the first stage of the new school, while work continued on the construction of second and third stages with completion in 1958. During the first decade of the school's operation a number of annexes were dotted around Fremantle and included Princess May Annexe (Princess May Girls' School (fmr)), Finnerty Street Annexe (Fremantle Arts Centre), Fremantle Boys' Annexe (Film and Television Institute), the North Fremantle Annexe (North Fremantle Primary School (fmr)) and the East Street Trades Centre (Manual Arts Building).[4][5]

John Curtin has elements of an earlier education building campaign on the site, a two storey brick Manual Trades Block that was constructed circa 1943 after an existing Fremantle Technical School manual arts building in South Terrace was taken over for defence purposes in 1941 and in view of the then proposals for the erection of a new Fremantle Technical High School.[4][5]

The science annexe, built later than the main school, was funded by a Commonwealth Government grant under the 1960s era Commonwealth Laboratory program. A new arts centre was added in 1987.[4][5]

John Curtin College of the Arts has Gifted and Talented programs including drama, dance, music, ballet, music theatre, visual arts, arts media and the A.E.P. (Academic Extension Program) for English, mathematics, science and humanities.

In 1992, a history of the school was written by the then Ancient History teacher, Tim Johnson. The volume, Guns, Graves and Dreaming: the History of Fremantle's High School: John Curtin Senior High School, was never published, but is available at a number of Western Australian libraries.[6]

In 2001, the College was placed on the WA Register of Heritage Places.[4]

On 12 November 2006 John Curtin College of the Arts hosted a gathering for the school community to celebrate its 50th year of operation.

Site previous history[edit]

The Skinner Street Cemetery, Fremantle's first official cemetery was on the land that is now the college oval. The cemetery was first established in 1852 and used until 1899, when it was closed for general burials. The last burial took place in 1917. It later fell into disuse. Throughout the 1930s all unbroken headstones were transferred to Fremantle Cemetery on Carrington Street. Families were required to pay for the exhumation and reburial of their relatives’ remains. It is estimated that the remains of up to 200 bodies may still be buried on the site.[4]

Following the entrance of Japan into World War II and the threat of attack on Australia, four anti-aircraft gun emplacements were established on the portion of the site bounded by Ellen and East streets. Throughout the war years the former cemetery was a base camp used by the troops who manned the guns and was a significant part of Fortress Fremantle for the defence of the port.[4]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Alphabetical List of Western Australian Schools" (pdf). Department of Education. Perth, WA: Government of Western Australia. 9 February 2015. p. 17. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "School cost". The West Australian. 3 Nov 1954. p. 21. Retrieved 12 Jul 2013. 
  3. ^ "Mrs Curtin is guest at Fremantle ceremony". The West Australian. 30 Oct 1954. p. 1. Retrieved 12 Jul 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Assessment Documentation - John Curtin College of the Arts" (pdf). Register of Historic Places. Heritage Council of Western Australia. 23 Nov 2001. Retrieved 12 Jul 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Assessment Documentation - Balcatta Senior High School" (pdf). Register of Historic Places. Heritage Council of Western Australia. 18 Nov 2011. Retrieved 12 Jul 2013. 
  6. ^ State Library of Western Australia. "Catalogue entry". Retrieved 16 Nov 2012. 

External links[edit]