In the mid 1860’s a group of individuals with the vision of a Methodist church school for boys met to progress their dream. Fundraising breakfasts were held in the Methodist Meeting Hall (which still stands behind the Adelaide Town Hall) and men and women who shared the vision of the founders pledged their support, enabling the purchase of land at Kent Town.
The foundation stone of the Main Building was laid by HRH Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen Victoria, during his 1867 visit to South Australia. The Prince agreed to the request to name the College in his honour, a departure from the proposed name of Wesley College, and for a short time it was known as Prince Alfred Wesleyan College.
The first students commenced at Prince Alfred College in 1869.
A feature of Prince Alfred College is the historic Main Building, which was built in three sections. The central section was ready for use in 1869 and housed offices, teaching areas, a residence for the Headmaster, and accommodation for boarders, who have been an important aspect of the College’s entire history.
The Waterhouse Wing (south) was added and increased the boarding accommodation as well as providing an assembly room, and a science laboratory.
Later, the Colton Wing (north) further expanded boarding space and teaching areas. The Main Building was completed in 1889.
Much of the success of Prince Alfred College can be attributed to the College’s third Headmaster Mr Frederic Chapple, who held the position for 39 years. Under Chapple enrolments to the College grew, settting the course for both the College and The Old Collegian's Association, which was founded in 1878.
Projects undertaken in Chapple’s time include the construction of a gymnasium, the first purpose built laboratory in a school in the state, and in 1911 the establishment of the Preparatory School.
Old Scholars served in significant numbers in both WWI and WWII, and their service was commemorated with much needed classroom blocks as memorials to those who did not return. Continued growth in the 1960s and 1970s saw further buildings constructed for teaching, boarding, community use and sport. A long hoped for chapel was also built on the site of the former Pirie Street, which separated the Senior and Preparatory schools.
From 2000 onwards significant redevelopment of most aspects of the college has occurred. The Preparatory School has been entirely rebuilt, the Main Building renovated, new classrooms and laboratories added in the Senior School, the Frederic Chapple Library was constructed and music and drama facilities upgraded.
The Preparatory School has seen the building of a dedicated sports centre named the John Dunning Sports Centre and a new Early Learning Centre in the old John Martin’s warehouse on the Parade West.
In 2010 the redeveloped assembly hall was named ANZAC Hall in recognition of the service of old scholars in wartime, and the adjoining Piper Pavilion recognises the contribution of generations of the Piper family to the College.
Since it’s foundation in 1869, Prince Alfred College continues to realise the dream of its Founders. Countless thousands of boys have been educated under the guidance of ten headmasters and gone on to achieve in their chosen fields.
Further information about the proud history of the College can be found in A History of Prince Alfred College (2008) written by old scholar Ron Gibbs.