International Women’s Day

07 March 2023

The first 10 Apsley girls, Norman Porter and his wife Hilary Porter


It’s International Women’s Day so we thought we would delve into the archives and find some photographs of life at Wellington for the first cohort of girls who attended College in 1975.

Back then, girls were only permitted as day students, the Master, Frank Fisher saying that ‘it would not be possible to cope with boarders.’ Only 10 girls were enrolled in that first year, and they shared the school with 704 boys.

As you can imagine, there were many differences between the experience of the girls and the boys at that time, including the fact there was no specific sport provision for girls and they always had to be escorted around the grounds by the boys after dark. Even then, the first Head Girl commented that ‘this rule has been open to many comments!’

Fast forward to 2023 and the story is very different. Having gone fully co-ed in 2005, when girls began to be admitted to the Lower School, the ratio of girls to boys is now nearly 50/50, and Wellington will meet that target in 2025 – appropriately enough fifty years since the first girls became Wellington pupils. There are now eight girls houses, Wellington is recognised as one of the premier schools for girls sport, exam results and top university places have rocketed and the girls’ contribution to Music, Art, Dance and Drama has seen Wellington awarded the Artsmark Gold Standard award. It is now truly a school for the sons and daughters of heroes!

Search #EmbraceEquality to learn more about International Women’s Day and use this link to find out more about the first Wellington Girls, in a podcast recorded by our College Archivist, Caroline Jones.

Apsley Common Room, 1977

References to girls in the 1977 Speech opening address by the Master, Frank Fisher.