Fire sparks changes

FOR 85 years girls have grown up, shared homesickness, secrets and midnight snacks as well as slept in the timber boarding houses at Locke Street's Presbyterian Girls College.

But from this month the buildings, historically known as WR Black and Glenbrae, will no longer be dormitories or senior rooms for female boarders at The Scots PGC College.

In a move designed to reduce the school's fire risk, the students have been relocated upstairs to newer areas of the girls' campus.

Scots PGC principal Michael Harding said the relocation came in the wake of the extensive boys' boarding house fire in Oxenham Street in June.

“Our buildings were fire compliant but we reconfigured the girls' accommodation to ensure they were in the very safest of buildings,” he said.

“Ironically, we had decided to move the girls' dormitories from the campus's oldest section before the fire but we moved plans forward 12 months.”

He said the WR Black building would be retained as a study and recreational area, while Glenbrae would remain the main administrative hub of the campus.

“Staff members and GAP students will still be accommodated in the timber buildings,” Mr Harding said.

Head of girls boarding Sue Wheaton said move “upstairs” had been embraced by female boarders.

“I think the sweetener was putting in recreational facilities; widescreen TVs and pool and air hockey tables have replaced the beds,” Mrs Wheaton said.

“We have a nearly 80 girls boarding so we were able to accommodate them easily in the newer buildings.

“We will now continue with the campus revamp, we have already replaced bathrooms and tiled areas and major internal work will be completed during the next 12 months.”

Year seven pupil Evi Ruzsicska agreed the move was positive.

“We have more space and privacy in the newer dorms, because we have our own area,” she said.

In the aftermath of the fire, which destroyed one the newest boarding facilities at the college, the school commissioned extensive fire safety reports on all buildings.

Mr Harding said the reports, which should be finalised within weeks, would determine the design and configuration of the replacement boarding accommodation.

Other changes include the removal of all fan heaters and electric blankets.

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