The Thornber Prize

The Thornber Prize, originally established as a bursary, is now valued at $500 and is awarded annually to the female candidate enrolled full-time in the first semester of study of the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) program who has attained the highest ATAR excluding any applicable bonus points.

Catherine Maria Thornber and her daughters, Catherine Maria, Rachel Ann, and Ellen were schoolmistresses.  Mrs Thornber was born in Herefordshire, England and married Robert Thornber, hosier and in 1839 they migrated with their six children to Adelaide.  After he died in 1854, Mrs Thornber opened a school at Mitcham in 1855.  Relocated at Unley Park, it became one of the city's best-known academies for young ladies.  Its pupils were the daughters of the middle class, especially of professional men and Anglican clergy who provided patronage to support the Thornber's goal of a broad, liberal, secondary education.

In 1894 Miss Catherine became the school's headmistress after her mother's death.  The Thornbers' school was among South Australia's most progressive in its methods and curricula: it offered chemistry, physiology, geology and botany, taught by university-educated women.  By 1898 it had an enrolment of 125 pupils.  Preparation for the university was emphasized, but the school's successes there did not prevent the sisters from deploring the university's restrictive entrance requirements.

Further reading: Australian Dictionary of Biography: Catherine Maria Thornber (1837-1924)
A Thornber Family



For more information

Jackie Morris
Senior Trusts Officer
08 8313 5804