<< Back to Lion homepage

Thinking about number 1

A plaque honouring the first student enrolled at Wesley College in 1866, Freddie Binks, was planned to be unveiled at the Bendigo Cemetery at this year’s Boarders Reunion weekend. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to COVID restrictions.

The plaque on the grave of Pupil Number 1, Freddie Binks

The plaque on Freddie’s grave is the result of research by Philip Powell (OW1973) and an official approach to the College and the cemetery Trust by Philip and Ian Thomas (OW1982), then College Head, OWCA, following their visit to the grave in 2016, 150 years after Freddie began at Wesley. It was fitting that the project be championed by both the College and the OWCA, which were both very supportive.

Freddie, born 20 August, 1856, was the son of the Rev. William Lawrence Binks and his wife Jane, both from Durham, England. They were one of the key Methodist families that worked so hard to raise funds and drive plans to ensure that Wesley College was built.

Freddie moved quickly into banking, working in a number of locations in Victoria and South Australia before moving to Bendigo where he became the Manager at the National Bank of Australasia in 1893. He and his wife, Mabel, became well known figures in Bendigo, supporting the fledgling Golf Club, Jockey Club and the famous Sandhurst Club, the earliest continually operating club in Victoria, where Freddie was President. He retired in 1919 and died 11 October, 1926.

There is no doubt that Freddie Binks loved Wesley. He often returned, he kept in touch with his friends, and friends wrote fondly of him, always referring to him as Freddie. As he was deployed by the Bank to various regions, Freddie would catch up with colleagues from school days who often referred to him as ‘Pupil Number 1’ with great fondness. He died without children to carry on his name, yet Freddie Binks will be remembered by thousands of children now, and the Wesley family will carry on his name in a way he could not have imagined.

<< Back to Lion homepage
<< Previous page | Next page >>