Miss Beardmore’s School for Girls known as ‘Arwon’, operated from the hall in the old Baptist Church, located on the corner of Berry and Worrigee Streets, Nowra from May 1915 to December 1917.
The school opened on May 10, 1915 with four students and by December 1916 the number had risen to 20, with teachers Miss Ruby Beardmore and Miss Iris Rankin.
Ruby Beardmore was born in Queensland in 1883, the youngest child of Frederick Joshua Wathen and Emily Anne Beardmore. After her father died in 1884 the family returned to Sydney to live.
Ruby attended the Sydney College of Music and Trinity College (London). She was living with her mother in Nowra when the school was established. Little is known of her life after leaving Nowra and she died at St Leonards in 1969, aged 86.
A girls' school will be opened at Baptist Hall, Berry Street, Nowra on Monday, 10th May. For terms, etc., apply Miss Beardmore.The Shoalhaven Telegraph, Wednesday, May 15, 1915
Iris Rankin was born at Redfern in 1899, the eldest child of Henry Stewart and Edith Rankin. The family were living in Nowra by 1911.
Iris attended Nowra Superior Public School and received her Qualifying Certificate in 1914. She was well known in the community for her fundraising work during WWI and WWII and was treasurer of the Nowra Red Cross branch from 1961 to 1969. Iris died at Nowra in 1982, aged 83.
The pupils also helped Australia’s war effort by knitting garments, which they can be seen doing in their class photograph.
In December 1916, prizes were handed out to the students in the Presbyterian School hall. Reverend Thomas Jamieson-Williams handed out the awards and congratulated the teachers on the school’s growth.
The following awards were presented; Nancy Roberts – reading and tables, Carmen Hewlett – highest examination results, Margaret Woodhill – sewing, Mary Oliver – good conduct / highest class mark, Ruth Hewlett – Latin, Blanche Lamond – mapping / French, Ena Rodway – homework / best attendance, Doris Folbigg – geology, Mary Oliver – spelling, Eileen Hewlett – French, Dilyis Williams – history / general knowledge, Joan Roberts – highest examination marks, Constance Marriott – neatness and general improvement, Kate Watt – general improvement, Frances Thomas – drawing.
One of the more interesting awards was given to Mary Oliver for neatest finger nails.