Guildford Primary School is historically significant, being the oldest school in WA and still retaining part of its early 1868 structure. The school is the oldest continuous operating state school in Western Australia and the third oldest in Australia.

Guildford is almost a semi-rural school, despite its close proximity to Perth. Guildford has, to some extent, been buffered from Perth by the Swan River and a rural belt.


  • 1827 Captain James Stirling explored the upper reaches of the Swan River.
  • 1829 Settlement of the Swan River Colony
  • 1833 Guildford Colonial School was established (it was located in several premises in the town before a purpose built school was constructed in 1870).
  • 1850 Convict transportation begins
  • 1867 Revised plans for a new school drawn by R.R.Jewell
  • Helena River Bridge constructed.
  • 1870 New school building completed.
  • 1881 The Fremantle to Guildford Railway constructed.
  • 1885/86 New bridge over Swan River
  • 1890s Railways and water supply extended to the Gold fields.
  • 1894 Boy’s, Girls’ and Infants’ Schools combined to form Guildford School.
  • 1899 Alterations and additions to school.
  • 1900/4 Three more classrooms added.
  • 1911 Erection of new teachers’ quarters.
  • 1919 Old Teacher’s Quarters altered to provide additional classroom.
  • 1926 Request submitted for Guildford School to be connected to sewerage.
  • 1953-54 Construction of the Bristol Prefab classrooms.
  • 1963 Teacher’s Quarters demolished to provide playing fields.
  • 1974 Two wings were constructed.
  • 1980 Guildford classified as an historic town by the National Trust.
  • 1993 New Pre-Primary Centre constructed.
  • 1995 New toilets constructed
  • 1998 Guildford Primary School placed on State Register of Heritage Places.
  • 2000 A covered assembly area, dental therapy unit, canteen and sports store were completed
  • 2004 New administration area was completed.
  • 2008 A new library was constructed.
  • 2011 2 new buildings constructed- Junior Primary classes and an art/music room.

Building Style

All buildings are in a turn of the century vernacular – red brick walls and iron roof, with a vertical emphasis to fenestration. Future building additions need to be in sympathy with the Swan Shire’s Building Guidelines and Conservation Policy for Guildford. The Pre Primary was completed in 1993, the design brief was to make the building compatible with others in the area.

1833-2008 175th Anniversary

Guildford Primary School is the oldest government-sponsored education institution still in operation in Western Australia. The origins of Guildford Primary School can be traced back to 1833 and government-sponsored education in Guildford has operated continuously since 1838. Guildford Primary School includes heritage-listed buildings, some of which date back to 1870.

In 2008 the Guildford Primary School celebrated its 175th anniversary and the Parents and Citizens’ Association published a book detailing the development and historical significance of this unique school. The book included details from a significant oral history project that was conducted as part of the research. This was an opportunity to examine the challenges faced by one community arising from the development of government elementary schooling, educational policy, philosophy and curriculum from the beginnings of the Swan River Colony to the present day. It was also an opportunity to give a voice to the local community and provide a context for their memories of Guildford Primary School.

It is now possible to purchase the book titled “Treasured Island – 175 years of Growing up in Guildford”.  The book is available through the Guildford Visitor’s Centre in Meadow Street. Copies have also been placed in the Guildford Library and the State Library.

Time Capsule

A time capsule was buried in the rectangular garden bed in the old covered assembly area to be opened during the 175 Anniversary year in 2008. In past experience the time capsules buried on school sites have been very elusive and in some cases lost. Fortunately the location of the time capsule was marked prominently on a one ton rock with a plague.

After a great deal of effort from the school gardener, Jon Haynes, the time capsule was located and excavated. To ensure the contents were in good condition the school Historian, Laura Nolan and the Principal, Neil St Quintin, opened the capsule and the contents were in excellent condition.

All the contents will be archived and scanned by Laura Nolan so that a permanent record is kept of the contents.

The contents of the capsule and a new capsule for the 2008 students will be stored in a climate controlled storage area in the Library Resource Centre where it will be kept to be opened in 2033. A new time capsule will be made and placed next to the original with memorabilia from 2008.

Faction Names

Guildford Primary School house factions are named after three men who were important citizens.


Captain Meares arrived in Western Australia in 1830 and owned the public jetty and a large area of land around to king meadow behind the school. He was the first chairman of the Guildford Town Trust, like the mayor of the city today.


Doctor Waylen, who has a street named after him, was the town’s first doctor and helped set up Royal Perth Hospital.


Captain Pratt also arrived in 1830 and was a ship owner and shop keeper. He also became chairman of Guildford Town Trust, again like a mayor, in 1841.