History of Aquinas College and Old Aquinians' Association

Aquinas College is one of Western Australia’s oldest and most respected boys’ colleges, and is a founding member of the Public Schools Association. Our history as a college dates back to 1894, with the foundation of Christian Brothers’ College Perth on St George’s Terrace in the CBD. 

CBC Perth was built on the corner of St Georges Terrace and Victoria Avenue and commonly called CBC Terrace. CBC Perth was the first Christian Brothers’ school as well as the second oldest high school and boarding school in WA. The Brothers were invited to the colony by Bishop Matthew Gibney who knew of their work in Ireland, England, and in the eastern colonies of Australia.

At first, CBC Perth was a day school. However, due to the rapid population growth in WA during the gold rush, the Christian Brothers were pressured to allow boarders to live in makeshift conditions at the college. 

The first boarding students were enrolled in June 1896. 

Accommodation at the site was very limited and overcrowded. In 1917, headmaster Br Paul Nunan set about acquiring a larger property away from the city centre to provide for the school’s growing population, and this is the one Aquinas College remains at to this day – Salter Point.

In 1937, CBC Perth began to splinter. Boarders and some day boys started moving to the fast-developing Aquinas College campus at Salter Point. In 1937, the PSA committee transferred PSA membership and records of CBC Perth to Aquinas. 

Aquinas inherited the red and black college colours, as well as the honour boards, achievements and history for the period 1894-1937. The Aquinas College foundation stone was laid on 11th July 1937, and the school opened in February 1938 with 160 boarders and 55 day students.

From its foundations, the College grew to provide a catholic education for boys; local, regional WA, interstate and international students. Facilities were built to accommodate the ever-growing student population, with key developments including the Junior School buildings, the Chapel of St Thomas Aquinas and four boarding houses. 

Since 2007, Aquinas College has been part of the Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) network of schools following the establishment of the EREA by Christian Brothers at the time. Today, Aquinas provides students with educational opportunities guided by the Character for Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition. The college’s four tenets; scholarly attainment, spiritual awareness, character formation and solidarity with others, are at the core of day-to-day student activities.

The Old Aquinians’ Association inaugural year was in 1938, which was the year CBC Perth separated and Aquinas College began operation at the new Mt Henry location.

The Old Boys continued the alumni tradition and the first committee OAA members were:
Parton – Rev Bro CP Foley
President  – Dr TW Meagher
Vice Presidents – Mr GJ Charles, Mr AD Scott, Mr MG Cogan Jnr
Hon Secretary – RAJ Hannah Esq
Hon Assistant Secretary – G Brennan Esq
Hon Treasurer – J Quigley Esq
Hon Assistant Treasurer – B Conroy Esq
Committee – KJ Hickey, R Gelle, C Cogan Jnr, JM Lavan, E McNamara, F Baxter, Dr JD Palandri

The objects of the OAA when formed in 1938 were:

  1. To inculcate and foster in ex-students of the College true spirit of “Alma-Mater”
  2. To arrange functions, social and sporting, with a view to bringing old boys together and enabling them to keep in closer touch with one another
  3. To assist in every way in the furtherance of the objects of the College
  4. Where possible to assist students on leaving the College to choose an avocation in life and to further assist them therein
  5. To provide medals and trophies for school and sport to be competed for by students of the College
  6. To assist Old Boys of the college in times of adversity
  7. To promote the general welfare of the College and of ex-students

Many of these objectives are still relevant today.

If you have not yet joined the Old Aquinians’ Association, you can become a life member by clicking here and completing the Life Membership Application online.