In 1914 the Williamstown Grammar School trustees transferred trust in the school grounds and donated the original school building to the Department of Education to establish a state government high school for Williamstown. This meant the dissolution of the Williamstown Grammar school board and the school's senior students either went on to other grammar schools around Melbourne or enrolled at Williamstown High School. Williamstown High School continues today and the original Williamstown Grammar School building is still in use in the school grounds at Pasco Street.
This would have been the end of Williamstown Grammar if not for the highly respected young head of the junior school, Mabel Molland. At the Williamstown Grammar School Speech Night at the end of 1914, the Williamstown Chronicle (Saturday 26 December 1914) reports that management of the school has been taken over by Mabel Molland and that she addressed the assembly saying, 'acceding to the expressed wish of many, I decided to carry on the junior school, and wish to thank the parents for their hearty cooperation in my undertaking'.
The reputation of Mabel Molland as a teacher of enormous ability and continuing support from the community would enable the school to survive through depression, war and troubled finances, to see the reinstatement of a school board in 1956, the reintroduction of secondary education in 1978 and a now thriving multi-campus independent P-12 school in Melbourne's west.
This photograph is the earliest known image of Mabel Molland (standing in the the third row, second from the right) with her students. The group is pictured in the grounds of the Holy Trinity church hall on the corner of Aitken and Pasco Streets, Williamstown, which was home to the School from 1915 to 1956.
Black and white reproduction image on photographic paper of students in four rows with trees in the background, a board in the front row with the words Strathmore/Grammar School/Williamstown. Mabel Molland stands at the right and her sister, Mavis Molland, stands at the left.