New boarding wing honours long-time architect

Posted 30th May 2016

An architect who for half a century has put his stamp on the look of The Armidale School’s campus has been honoured in the naming of a new boarding house extension at the school.

As employee and later partner in Armidale firm Magoffin and Deakin until his retirement in 2005, Antony Deakin OAM has been responsible for the design or project management of every building at the school since moving from Sydney to join the 1965. At a ceremony on 27 May, he unveiled the plaque to Deakin Wing, an extension to White House which had been designed by his former partner Reg Magoffin and opened by Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies in 1963.

Among his work is an extension to Fisher Wing (which won an Armidale City Council Heritage Award) and Cloisters in the heart of the school; the Junior School building, Music Centre, Centenary Library and, most recently, the Hoskins Centre, in conjunction with Sydney firm Peddle Thorp & Walker.

“I tried to follow Reg’s approach in maintaining the architectural character and ethos of the school started by the original architect Sir John Sulman in 1893, particularly in regard to the colour, selection and detailing of the brickwork, and am proud that this tradition has continued,” he said.

“I am conscious that my name in a building here is uniquely not that of a Bishop, a headmaster, a member of staff or an Old Boy, and am honoured to be allowed to hang onto the coat tails of thise men and families who made such significant contributions to this place: Moyes, Abbott, Fisher, Cash, White, Croft, Dangar, Johnstone, Magoffin, McConville, Mattingley, Graham and Hoskins. I have in some capacity been involved in the design and or construction of every one of those thirteen named buildings, as well as numerous other extensions and repair projects, working with wonderful people from the School Council to the teaching, grounds and administration staff.”

He recalled two amusing anecdotes from his work, including the discovery under a floor of a hand grenade (found to be a non-explosive, training device), and a last minute correction to a spelling mistake in the Latin inscription on the marble foundation stone of the initial Junior School building.

“Tony’s final contribution in matching the bricks of this new wing with the original exterior of White House reflects the attention to detail that has contributed so much to the character of what many believe to be one of the most beautiful schools in Australia, and with every building he has added something to the history of the school,” Headmaster Murray Guest said.

Designed by the current Magoffin & Deakin principal Michael McPhillips, the new two-storey, 24-bed wing was built to accommodate all Middle School boy boarders under the one roof. A second boarding house for Middle School boys was last year converted for the inaugural 20 girl boarders following the school’s introduction of co-education earlier this year.

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The Armidale School’s Chairman Sebastian Hempel and Headmaster Murray Guest watch as Tony Deakin (right) unveils a plaque commemorating a new residential wing named after him at TAS.

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The new Deakin Wing, White House, TAS