Madame’s Pioneers: Phyllis Clubbe

Phyllis Clubbe 1912

Phyllis Clubbe (1912)

Phyllis was born in Australia, although both her parents were English. Her father was Sir Charles Clubbe, an eminent Australian surgeon. Phyllis came to England with her Mother at the age of three. She attended Wycombe Abbey School, where she showed great aptitude for games. She returned to Australia where she helped to found the New South Wales Hockey Association in 1908 and launch hockey to women in Australia.

Phyllis met Winifred West playing hockey and together they decided to start a school for girls. However, further training was necessary before embarking on the project. Phyllis returned to England and entered MBÖ’s college in 1910, aged 25.

On completion of her two year course she returned to Australia and, with Winifred, founded Frensham School in Mittagong in 1913. On the first day the school had three pupils but by 1919 there were over one hundred. Phyllis taught gymnastics and games and was also in charge of the health of the school. In the very first term a small pox scare resulted in the whole school being vaccinated against the disease by the local doctor.

From the beginning, tennis, hockey and cricket were played and inter school matches began in 1914. Girls who attended the school remember not only the traditional games but the game she occasionally organised called Bobbies and Bushies. This took place by the creek, trees, caves and boulders at the far end of the estate.