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A Visit to Horton College


Amongst the many educational establishments, of which the Australian colonies have reason to be proud, Horton College stands forth prominently. During a recent visit to Tasmania, I had an opportunity of inspecting this excellent institution, and of noting the many advantages that it possesses from a health-giving as well as from an educational point of view. Horton College is situated about two miles from Ross, a small township on the Hobart and Launceston railway line. The latter city is the nearest to Ross, being about 50 miles distant, and the locality is looked upon as one of the healthiest in Tasmania. The College was founded in 1855 by the late Captain Horton, whose widow still resides at Summercotes, a pleasant spot within view of the college. The latter stands on the slope of a clear hill, near the Macquarie. River, which affords a safe bathing place for the students, besides being convenient for boating and fishing. From the tower a pretty extensive view is obtained of the surrounding country. To the north-west you get a glimpse of the grand old mountain Ben Lomond, which is part of the year crowned with snow. A mile or two to the south is Mona Vale, the magnificent property and mansion of Mr. W. A. Kermode, while Messrs. Parramore's Beaufront, and Wetmore estates, and the dark blue line of hills known as the Western Tier, are visible in another direction. The college was commenced on a small scale in 1855, but it has since grown to such proportions that what then formed the entire college now merely constitutes this central part of the building, which is two stories high. No distinctive style of architecture is noticeable about it ; but here and there a dash of the Gothic can be detected, and as the college is of brick, burnt particularly red, and pointed with lime and cement, it presents a peculiarly clean and uniform appearance. A tower has been erected within the last two or three years, and this to a great extent has completed the original design of the building, while at tile same time giving it a more commanding exterior, and causing it to be greatly admired by travellers on the main line of railway. A neat lawn and shrubbery stretches down from the front of the building, and the grounds beyond have recently been improved by being extensively planted with English and other trees of a useful and ornamental character, all of which will ere long add greatly to the beauty of the place.

The quarters of the president, the Rev. Francis Neale, and the head master arc respectively in the north and south wing of the building. The former wing also contains the kitchen, scullery, store-room, and servants' rooms, While on the ground floor are a large dining room, school-room, and several classrooms. The next story contains a couple of commodious and well-ventilated dormitories. The beds are comfortable and well arranged, while of bedclothes there appeared to be as much and of as good quality as the most exacting parent could expect for his most delicate offspring. " Cleanliness is next to godliness " is an old and trite saying, and It seems to be carried out to the very letter, not only with regard to the dormitories, but throughout the entire institution. This was the more evident to me inasmuch as I saw the latter somewhat under a disadvantage, just a day or so before the midwinter exodus took place, and during wet weather. Not withstanding this, however, and the fact of my visit being quite unexpected, the greatest order and cleanliness reigned in every direction. Running off from the dormitory are rooms with three or four beds in each, for the senior boys and for those requiring special care and attention. Another large room lately added to the building is devoted to those who may happen to be on the sick or convalescent list ; but it is significant of the healthfulness and good management of the college that this apartment is very seldom occupied.

The head master possesses comfortable quarters in the southern wing, while the second and third masters have theirs on the same level as the dormitories. Adjoining the latter are also a number of rooms occupied by students preparing for the higher class examinations. Then there is another room equally important in a sense to any of the foregoing. This contains the boys clothes, and may be briefly described as a place for everything, and where everything is in its proper place. The domestic affairs of the institution are under the direct superintendence of Mrs. Neale, who is assisted by an efficient housekeeper and a good staff of servants. Good wholesome food is as necessary towards ensuring health as pure air, and if the fine healthy appearance of the boys is any criterion to go by, there is no stinting in the commissariat department of Horton College.

Gymnastic exercises can be indulged in to any extent, and in wet weather a large play shed erected in the grounds provides ample space and shelter for indoor games. The ages of the students vary from nine to 18 or 20 years, and although the greater number, as might naturally be expected, are Tasmanians, there is a fair proportion from the other colonies, Victoria being particularly well represented, and New South Wales coming next. Owing to its secluded position the college must always have a preponderance of boarders over day pupils. During last winter there were 60 of the former, and 10 of the latter, figures which have, no doubt, been increased since. There will, however, I understand, be vacancies for a few additional boarders, if not now, at least after the midsummer holidays. Natives of the hot districts of Victoria, New South Wales, or, indeed, any of the Australian colonies, would derive very great benefit from a residence in a cooler climate while receiving educational instruction ; and, from its uniformly genial climate, and its close proximity to the continent, Tasmania, which may be fitly described as the sanatorium of Australia, offers splendid advantages to the young student. To myself, accustomed as I had been to travelling in the interior of the Australian colonies, the change of climate and scenery in Tasmania proved most agreeable to both mind and body ; and to any of my readers, whose system requires bracing up, I would strongly recommend a Tasmanian trip during the summer months.

Horton College
Horton college near Ross, demolished in 1920 (TAHO) 1

Situated as Horton College is, therefore, far from the temptations of city life, and in the midst of all that is pure, health-giving, and invigorating, it offers unusual advantages to students, from a physical point of view, while affording at the same time a thoroughly sound and first-class education. The curriculum embraces all the branches of a complete English education, with Latin, Greek, French, Italian, and Mathematics ; while in the higher forms the boys are prepared for the various examinations under the Council of Education, and for matriculation at the Universities. Music and drawing are also taught by competent teachers. A concession worthy of note is made with regard to pupils from the neighbouring colonies, those who have paid the ordinary fare by the T.S.Ñ. Co.'s steamer being granted a free passage back, after six months' residence at the college. A liberal allowance is made to the sons of ministers of all religious denominations, and also in the case of brothers who are resident boarders; while, in the event of pupils entering after the commencement of a term, the remaining time only is charged for. The college is entirely under the control of a president appointed by the Wesleyan Conference, and careful attention is paid to the religious training of the pupils, as well as to their comfort and education. In fact, the management have succeeded in combining the advantages of a well-conducted home with the necessary restraint and discipline of school life. The responsible position of president of the institution is held by the Rev. Francis Neale, a gentleman who has been connected with the Wesleyan denomination for over 20 years, during which period he was located in some of the principal circuits, Including those of Melbourne, Ballarat, and Geelong. Mr. Neale was appointed to his present position at the Wesleyan Conference in Melbourne last year, and the wisdom of the choice has since been fully illustrated by the improvement in the attendance at the college, it having increased from 60 to 70, and the rapid progress made, physically as well as intellectually, by the pupils Combined with the abilities of a finished, scholar, Mr. Neale possesses in a high degree the gift of organisation, together with the tact and gentle firmness which are the necessary characteristics of the able manager. No more encouraging proof of his ability in the above directions can be adduced than that in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales I have met the parents of several of the pupils, all of whom spoke very highly to me of the progress made by their sons now attending Horton College. Of course it is only fair to the head master and his assistants that they should receive a share of credit for the high I reputation that the college has obtained.

Mr. Wm. W. Fox, B.A., London, has held the position of head master for over 20 years. He has thoroughly established his reputation aa a competent and painstaking teacher, and some of his former pupils now occupy prominent positions in professional and commercial circles. The senior masters are all engaged in England. Until recently Mr. Claude H. W. Johns, B A., graduate of Queen's College, Cambridge, was second master. He filled the position with the highest credit, and his departure for the old country was universally regretted. Mr. Johns has been succeeded by. Mr. S. Patterson, B.A., graduate in honours, Queen's College, Galway. The third master is Mr. P. M. Pitt, of the Melbourne University and A. A. Tasmania ; the fourth, Mr. A. R. Aylwin, teacher of modern languages and advanced music, Professor L. Lockstaedt ; and teacher of drawing and music, Miss Taylor.

The Horton scholarship of £20 is open for annual competition. It was founded by Mrs. Horton, of Summercotes, and was won last year by Edgar H. Cutts, son of Dr, Cutts, Melbourne. At the recent examinations under the Council of Education, the following pupils achieved honourable distinction :- Percy Leslie Waterhouse, son of Mr. R. S. Waterhouse, gained the first Tasmanian Scholarship worth £200, tenable for, four years, at a British University. He secured an exhibition under the Board of Education, 1875, taking premier position among the successful candidates of the year. Two years later he was first on the list in obtaining an exhibition under the Council of Education ; and in 1879 he gained a minor scholarship, and took a first class A.A. degree. He has lately entered Cambridge, and all through, according to The Mercury, his educational career has been highly creditable.

Evett Gordon Allport, son of the late Morton Allport, who was gold medalist and senior Associate in 1870, was third on the list, being only 49 marks behind the Second candidate. He had sufficient qualification for taking the Scholarship, and amongst all who presented themselves, he was successful in gaining the highest number in mathematics. The leading position in the examination for the A.A. Degree was taken by Ralph Stuart Stephenson, son of the Rev. F. E. Stephenson, of Hobart ; and he also wins the gold medal as senior Associate, the Dry, and minor Scholarships, besides prizes for Greek, mathematics, and geology. - Federal Australian. 2

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From A Short History of Ross with some Tales of the Pioneers, Compiled by K. R. von Stieglitz

Horton College This college was, for a time, one of the famous educational centres in Australia. In 1850 Capt. Samuel Horton offered the Wesleyan Church twenty acres of 'Somercotes' and £1,350 for the establishment of a boys’ school. The offer was accepted and the foundation stone laid on the 6th January, 1852. The Victorian gold rush took place at that time and, as nearly every able-bodied man who had no ties left at once for those golden shores, the work was delayed. There were other things in the way as well. Criticism, and even hostility to the scheme, was openly voiced, but it was finally opened in ‘55. So far £4,481 had been spent and the central, front and northern wing had been erected. The Rev. J. C. Manton became the first president and lived at the college. For some years he had been chaplain at Point Puer (Port Arthur) to the convict.boys who were sent there to learn a useful trade. The building was of brick, two-storied, with dressings and trimmings of beautifully carved freestone, with a central tower of three stories over the main entrance. The college stood on the opposite side of the main road from ‘Somercotes’ and was protected from southern winds by what is now called the College Hill. The only qualification, for admission “will be an ability to read the New Testament with facility,” declared the V.D.L. District Meeting of ‘52. Two, years later, “applications for admission are more numerous than the committee can entertain.” The Rev. W. A. Quick succeeded Mr. Manton in ‘59. By ‘62 there were no fewer than 64 students which necessitated the building of a new wing. There were troubles with the headmasters until February, ‘63, when the well-remembered William Fox, B.A., arrived and remained as headmaster for over 26 years (May ‘89), when he retired, through ill-health, to St. Leonards. At this time the old shingle roof was removed as it was a constant danger in case of fire, and replaced by galvanised iron. From the time of Mr. Fox’s retirement, the school started to fail. More conveniently situated schools in Hobart and Launceston, and a financial depression, were among the causes of the college being closed in 1893. The college then became a private school but this too failed, and the buildings amid property were made over to Mr. Thomas Riggall (representing the Horton estate) on condition that he paid outstanding debts. During the smallpox epidemic, the Launceston Church Grammar School moved into the building for a while, but when this was over the: 24 building once more stood empty and neglected. Mr. Riggall died in 1917 and two years later the college was pulled down and the material sold. In 1935 when the new Mary Fox (daughter of Mr. W. H. Fox) Wing was erected at the M.L.C. in Launceston, some old bricks from. Horton College were built into one of the walls as a tangible reminder of the old association. Only the frame-work of the old main entrance doorway remains standing at the present time. ‘Horton” house was partly constructed from the material obtained from the college. One of Tasmania’s most famous sportsmen, Dr. Colin Campbell (Cressy) was a pupil at Horton College, he and many of the 770 other young men who received their education at the college brought fame to the institution.

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