A legacy of innovation and care

The family ethos of Walford's early years remains a distinctive characteristic of Walford today.

Since 1893, Walford has been shaped by the exemplary visions of extraordinary women devoted to Walford and girls’ education.

Walford students have continued to be at the forefront of education, studying non-traditional subjects, pursuing careers of their choice, and driving changes large and small within the School and on the world stage.

Educator and suffragette, Miss Lydia Adamson, founded Walford Anglican Girls’ School in 1893. South Australia was a world leader in equal rights for women, and Miss Adamson was vocal to the cause – spearheading a school that enabled, and fiercely encouraged advanced education for women. 

The success of the School was swift, and as early as 1906, two of her students, May Williams and Mary Langman, were the first Walford alumnae to graduate from The University of Adelaide, both with Honours Degrees in classics. 

At around the same time, another young woman was making her mark in education. Miss Ellen Benham BSc was the first female academic to lecture students in medicine, botany, and physiology at The University of Adelaide. In December 1912, Ellen Benham purchased Walford School, introducing science, along with mathematics, physiology, and botany, to the curriculum.

Moments that have helped shape Walford's unique environment, tailored for young women

Recognising the need to expand the School, Walford’s third headmistress, Miss Mabel Jewell Baker, purchased ‘Woodlyn’, the heritage home on the current Walford site, later named Mabel Jewell Baker House. Built in 1874 and including one acre of land, it has not only provided accommodation to boarding students since 1920, but became the centrepiece around which the School grew, now sitting in the centre of the tranquil, green Heart of Walford. 

By 1955, when Miss Baker sold the School to the Anglican Church, Walford’s numbers had swelled to over 450. The School has taken an intentional approach to maintaining its size to ensure that each Walford girl continues to be seen, heard and known. 

Today, Dr Deborah Netolicky, an award-winning and inclusive educator, is the ninth principal in the School’s history of more than 130 years.

130 Years of Extraordinary Leaders

Lydia Adamson


Ellen Behman


Mabel Jewell Baker OBE


Nina Morrison MBE


Dr Helen Reid AM


Marilyn Haysom


Helen Trebilcock


Rebecca Clarke


Dr Deborah Netolicky


Walford Archives

We are dedicated to safeguarding our history and maintaining an extensive collection within our archives. Our distinctive array of items charts Walford's journey from the 1890's to the forward-thinking and dynamic community we are today.

Should you wish to donate items to our archives, please contact Walford Archivist, Elizabeth Campbell Carnaby via email or phone 8272 6555.