History

The Northern Nursery School has a long history in the district and many local children (now adults) have very fond memories of their time here.

“The Northern Nursery School is one of Mosman’s oldest preschools and is probably the oldest preschool (nursery school as distinct from kindergarten) in Australia, being a continuation of that established by Miss Hutchinson in 1936, after her return from her study of nursery schools in England.

Our eldest daughter, Glennie, now 72 was one of the first four children at “Hutchy’s”, which occupied the ground floor, garden and garage of the heritage house still standing at 114 Belmont Rd, owned by the family of Dr Doak, one of whose daughters was living upstairs there.

Mosman Daily 14 October 2005

The following extract is from an account by J.C. Hutchinson, the founder of the nursery school.

The Northern Nursery School, Cremorne opened in 1936. In those days few, if any, people in Mosman had heard of the nursery school. I started the nursery school with 4 children, a student assistant, a cook and a great deal of faith. By the end of that term there were 8 children. The following year we increased to 21. Fees were 5 pounds a term and covered a hot midday meal, milk and orange juice. At the parents’ insistence the school evacuated to Blackheath in 1942 during the war. There we had a large cottage with ample grounds. The children and school returned home in late August to 114 Belmont Road. The Belmont Road house was sold and the NNS moved in 1959 to St Peters Church Hall, in Neutral Bay, until December 1960. The Northern Nursery School Association was started and in 1961 the Northern Nursery School opened in Wyong Road. I retired in December of that year.

The following extract is written by Peter Connell of Mosman about his memories of attending the Northern Nursery School from 1943 to 1946.

I have many fond memories of being taught by Hitchie, Heidi and Mrs Carver. Each day would begin with a choice of spinach or carrot juice and I would often climb the big camphor laurel tree to catch cicadas. The midday meal was always hot but I loathed having to finish all my chokos and after dinner we had to sleep until being collected at 3pm.

Mrs Anita Wallace was the Director of NNS for the 30 years and an extract from a report she wrote in 1979 is as true today as it was then.

It is through play that young children explore and discover, try out and assimilate ideas, express feelings, experiment with social relationships, develop skills, acquire a wider range of language and ease of communication in many different media. With plenty of space, varied equipment, freedom to choose and to make decisions, giving understanding guidance in a warm and supportive atmosphere, children can develop imaginative powers, ‘play out’ a solution to a problem, relieve emotional tension, learn acceptable ways of social interaction and be helped to achieve stability, independence and self confidence which lead to happiness and satisfaction.

The following extract is written by Mark Skipper of Mosman about his memories of attending the Northern Nursery School from 1964 to 1965.

I have vivid recollections of the finger painting, listening to records with children’s stories and songs, one in particular of a fire engine. I can also recall frequent walks to the park on the corner of Countess and Awaba Streets.

In the backyard they had a jungle gym and a triangle shaped metal climbing equipment and I have a photo of me on one of the triangles. I was stunned that the jungle gym and the triangles were still there when my oldest son started in 1989. We got rid of them after a few tears when I was on the Management Committee in the early 1990’s due to OH&S issues – our DoCS representative said they had to go.

The backyard was developed in 1994, mostly through the work of fathers and mothers on working bees. One father, Nick Fitzpatrick, built a cubby at the back and we also built a water feature for hot summer days, that was safe to prevent drowning, the sitting area under the trees and the Japanese garden. It was always hard to get volunteers for the working bees and the Committee decided to charge a levy instead, so we could bring in professional help.

The last working bee was on the Sunday Princess Diana was killed in August 1997. The Committee at this time reconfigured the rooms, installed air conditioning, redid the toilets that were the same as the 1960’s, built a bigger entrance and office. We also built a memorial garden for a child who died of an illness.

I was on the Committee for a number of years and President for 2 or 3. During this time we renegotiated the lease with Mosman Council. The Council staff recommended to Council that we be charged a commercial rent of $42,000 a year. This would have sunk the kindy. It was hard work to lobby against this, but thanks to Cr Dom Lopez and others we won through and re-signed a lease for a $1 a year.

The kindy, the staff, the helping mothers and parent body is such a close knit community, so much has been done over the years to keep up the tradition. I was glad my seven children all went there and I have excellent photos, videos and memories.

The staff are an excellent team and always have been. Who could forget the fund raising nights, we had everything from blackjack/gambling, wine tasting and fetes and the like…

The Directors that have followed continue to build on these marvellous foundations.

In 2010 the Management Committee of the Northern Nursery School and Mosman Council signed off on a new lease for a further 21 years that continues on from our current lease, which will expire in 2014. We really appreciated the work of Sue Kench, a long standing parent at the NNS, who negotiated and guided us through this process over the past 4 years, resulting in a lease that ensured continuity and wellbeing to all future children and families who may attend the preschool to 2035. We also thank the driving force and commitment of past and present Management Committee members and the past and present Mayors, Denise Wilton and Anne Connon, as well as Councillors, for their support and belief in the value of this service to the Mosman community.