Wellington College had its beginning in 1853 when Sir George Grey, then Governor Commander-in-Chief in and over the Colony of New Zealand, affixed the seal of the Colony to a Deed of Endowment of Wellington College.
In 1867, Wellington Grammar School opened on Woodward Street, and education began for young men.
On 17 October 1874, the College opened with 60 students on its present site, on the lower slopes of Mount Victoria. The inaugural 1867 enrolment of 60 boys have now grown to over 1750 students.
During the Headmastership of J P Firth (1892-1920), the ethos of the College was forged. Between the wars, an ambitious building programme was undertaken including a boarding establishment and a Hall built as a memorial to those Old Boys killed in WWI.
1921 - 1980
In the decades following the war, as society underwent change, so too did the school. Women teachers became part of the staff, cadets finished, a senior uniform was introduced, and a wider range of sporting and cultural activities became part of the expanding co-curricular programme.
1981 - 2000
In 1981, the boarding house was demolished making way for a new Sports Centre. In 1987, an equally impressive Arts Centre was opened, including a large music suite and theatre. In 1992, the Computer Technology Centre was opened.
In 2001, the Rees-Thomas Science Block was opened and 2003 saw the opening of a student services centre and the Girvan Library. That was followed by the opening of the new Language Block, the Frank Crist Centre which incorporates the Sports Academy and International Students’ Centre. Our most recent project, the Alan Gibbs Centre and Memorial Hall was opened in 2019. The history of the College is preserved through the Wellington College Museum and Archives.
2019 - present
With around 33,000 former students, the Old Boys’ Association is a testament to the camaraderie and life-long friendships that are formed from a Wellington College education and to promote and develop friendships among members of the Association and the College community. In a very real way, the history of Wellington College reflects the history of the city of Wellington.
Old Boys have made their mark in the law, commerce, medicine, engineering, politics, art and design, literature, sport, the performing arts and the military.
The sense of belonging is another integral feature of the school’s history. The school has always evoked loyalty in its community which has furthered the success of its students.
Colourised photo of a Senior Chemistry Class from 1947.
Colourised photo of the East School in 1874. 4th from the left in the back is Ngātau Omahuru (AKA William Fox), possibly WC's first Māori student.
Colourised photo of the WC Orchestra from the 1920s.
The Wellington College Pipe Band during General Freyberg’s visit to the College as Governor General in 1946. Cameron of Erracht Tartan had been selected for the Band's kilts when the band was formed in 1940.