Masonic Orphan Schools was founded in 1922 at Baulkham Hills (in Sydney's north west) for the care and education of the children of deceased Freemasons. In 1924 its name was changed to William Thompson Memorial School.
In 2012 Find and Connect staff were advised by the United Grand Lodge of the Masons NSW/ACT that all records relating to the Masonic Orphan Schools, William Thompson Masonic School and related institutions Orana, Boronia and Wybalenna were destroyed by accident in 2002, during construction works.
The Masonic Orphan School was the brainchild of William Thompson who was the Liberal Party member for Ryde from 1913-20, and Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons from 1914-24. Thompson's aim was to establish cottage homes for orphans. Land was purchased at Baulkham Hills in 1921 and the first stage of what was originally known as 'The Masonic Orphan Schools' was opened on 11 November 1922. The opening of the institution drew such a crowd of Masons that it was reported in Tasmania's The Mercury;
There was a long procession of Masons in regalia on Saturday at the opening of the Masonic School for Orphans at Baulkham Hills. It was estimated that 10,000 Masons and friends attended the ceremony.
Most Worshipful Brother William Thompson, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, announced that Mr RS Cropley, a successful Sydney businessman and his wife had decided to give their services in superintending the school, which when completed would accommodate 100 boys and girls.
The institution is being financed by voluntary contributions from Masons in New South Wales and is modelled on the latest principles for the welfare of children. The school has a commanding position on the hills, and has 150 acres of land. Mr Cropley, who is a member of Cropley's Ltd, boot merchants, is giving up a lucrative business to devote his time to the welfare of orphans.
In recognition of Thompson's leadership and service to the project, the school was renamed 'William Thompson Masonic Schools'. Please see the entry on William Thompson Masonic Schools for more information.
1922 - c. 1924 Masonic Orphan Schools
c. 1924 - c. 1974 William Thompson Masonic School
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Masonic School for Orphans. Accommodation for 100 children.', The Mercury, 11 November 1922, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23613551; 'Mr. A.W. Green: Cricket President's Death.', The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 August 1935, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/17184543; Earnshaw, Beverley, A Start in Life: The history of the William Thompson Masonic School, 1922-1988, William Thompson Masonic School Council, Sydney, 1988; The Hills Shire Council, 'Hills Voices Online: Heritage Sites', in The Hills: Sydney's Garden Shire, circa 2007-2010, http://www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Library/Library-e-Resources/Hills-Voices-Online/Heritage-Sites; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, http://nma.gov.au/blogs/inside/files/2011/02/connectkin_guide1.pdf; Email communication with United Grand Lodge of NSW and ACT Freemasons, 24 February 2012.
Prepared by: Melissa Downing and Naomi Parry
Created: 22 March 2011, Last modified: 25 September 2014