Richard Cranna OAM (SGS 1958–1962) provides an insight into the Cranna family’s long history and association with Grammar.


In 1881, during Headmaster AB Weigall’s time, Henry Bruce Cranna, Richard Cranna’s paternal grandfather, attended the School from 1881. Not much is recorded about him, but we do know that he was awarded a Form I prize in his first year. After leaving school, he became a Government Architect. Richard’s maternal grandfather Robert Ainslie Lindeman (SGS 1899–1905) is also a bit of a mystery but The Sydneian tells us he mastered the 220-yard event at the school athletics carnival and attended Hawkesbury College, before becoming a dairy farmer in Grafton, NSW.

Richard’s father, Geoffrey Bruce Cranna, attended from 1927-1928. After leaving school, he worked as an engineer with the Department of Main Roads (DMR) and married Elizabeth (née Lindeman) during his time in Grafton. He then enlisted with the 2nd/3rd Railway Construction Unit, Royal Australian Engineers, at the beginning of World War II, serving as an engineer constructing airfields in New Guinea. After the war, Geoff became the chief engineer for the highway project between Glen Innes and Grafton. He was then NSW Highways Engineer with the DMR until he retired in 1976. Later in life he joined Legacy, serving for many years until his death in 1987.

Henry Bruce Cranna with family

2A.Henry Bruce Cranna's Form I Prize Book of 1881.jpg

Henry Bruce Cranna’s Form I Prize Book of 1881

8. Robert Ainsley Lindeman.jpeg

Robert Ainslie Lindeman

6. Geoffrey Bruce Cranna in New Guinea 1944 crop.jpg

Geoffrey Bruce Cranna in New Guinea 1944

Richard Geoffrey Cranna has fond memories of all aspects of School life and made many close friends during his time from 1958 to 1962. There were dances with two local girls’ schools, St Catherine’s School and Claremont Girls’ School, as well as regular dancing classes. These were popular at first, but coincidentally, many excuses not to attend – such as having haircut or medical appointments – followed the first lesson. Running with the Grammar Totem Pole before the Head of the River regatta each year was a particularly fond school memory.

During the cricket season, Richard’s father, Geoff, came down to Sydney from Glen Innes to watch him play. Often, he was out for a duck or not much more, with his father then spending the next two days on the train returning home. Richard was also a member of the 1961 First XV rugby team, and this group still occasionally reunite to celebrate their 22–20 victory over St Joseph’s College, which at the time were leading the Premiership. After Keith McConnell (SGS 1959 – 61) kicked the winning penalty goal right on full-time, the whole school ran on to the ground to celebrate.

Geoffrey Bruce Cranna (middle row, second from right) SGS Third XV 1928

After school, Richard studied accountancy and was conscripted, serving in South Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. He joined Legacy upon finishing his Army service and returned to his previous firm AML & F/Elders Ltd, working in Walgett, northern NSW. While in Walgett, Richard married Jenny Church, who lived on a property at Burren Junction, some 100 kilometres away. He retired as the National Credit Manager in their head office in Adelaide in 2007. Richard remembers Grammar as a wonderful experience and he enjoys his visits back to College Street for the annual Anzac and Remembrance Day services, and other year group reunions.

Growing up in Kiama, Richard’s cousin Michael Cranna (SGS 1958–59) a contemporary at School, subsequently worked with BHP as an industrial chemist in the steelworks at Port Kembla and later in the Gulf of Carpentaria where BHP operated a manganese mine. Richard’s brother-in-law, Robert Church (SGS 1958–62), lived on a property at Burren Junction in northwestern NSW and was another member of the Cranna family that travelled to attend the School. His great-grandfather George Church (SGS 1870–72) and father John Church (SGS 1930–32) were also Old Sydneians.

Michael Cranna (SGS 1958–59)

I remember my first Physics exam where I scored a magnificent 28 percent. Old Mr Freddie Lenthall dumped my assignment in front of me and said, “Cranna, you’ve got guts, but the wrong kind!” He was a chain smoker and used to smoke hand-rolled cigarettes during class (against staff regulations). His classroom was down the bottom of the School site towards Yurong Street, with the only access down a long pathway, so he could spot anyone approaching quite early. One day he saw the Chief (Headmaster Healey) coming down and stuffed his half-smoked cigarette into his waistcoat pocket. While he was talking to him, he was rubbing his pocket and wafts of smoke were rising out. After their conversation ended, he returned to the class and said, “That was close lads, wasn’t it?”, but I’m sure the Chief knew exactly what was going on.

Grammar Rugby First XV 1961. Richard was also a member of the First XV in 1962

Nail inspection crop.jpg

Nail Inspection, photograph by Max Dupain (1959) Richard Cranna is walking up stairs on right

South vietnam crop.jpg

Richard Cranna in South Vietnam 1968

Train crop.jpg

Richard Cranna about to board the train to Sydney in 1958

23. Guest speaker Rick Cranna at Anzac Assembly April 2016.JPG

Guest speaker Richard Cranna at Anzac Assembly April 2016

Rifle Shooting Second Team 1965 (Robert Cranna front, left)

Richard’s other cousins Robert (SGS 1960–1967) and his brother David (SGS 1964–1969) Cranna also attended, and both excelled in rifle shooting. Robert later studied veterinary science and spent several years in practice on the south coast of NSW before joining the Animal Health Division of Bayer Australia Ltd. After school, David studied psychology, and gained an MBA while working in the pharmaceutical industry. He then started a company in New Zealand, specialising in early-phase clinical research before retiring in Auckland.

David Cranna (brother of Robert) (SGS 1964–69)

I started at Grammar in 1964 in Class 1D and remained in the middle academic ranks for my six years. I was two years behind my brother, Robert, but saw little of him at school as was the way at Grammar; we largely kept to our own years. Our non-academic pursuits, however, were remarkably similar. My sporting life at Grammar included cricket and rugby in the early years when it was compulsory. As soon as possible, I moved on to tennis in Years 3 and 4, and rifle shooting in Years 5 and 6 as a member of the Seconds Rifle Team. I joined the Air Training Corps as a way of avoiding compulsory service in the Army Cadets. A pupil in our year was expelled for refusing to dress up in black pyjamas as a Viet Cong enemy soldier on an Army cadet training camp.

Richard and his family were living in Goulburn and Dubbo, and his son Andrew Cranna attended Shore for his secondary schooling. However, seemingly feeling the strong family connection to Grammar, Andrew later joined the staff at St Ives Preparatory School in 2005 as Art master where he is currently teaching. His three sons have also attended St Ives Preparatory: Archie (Year 6 2021), Leo (Year 5) and Paddy (Year 2). Andrew is a successful children’s author and illustrator and one of his books, The Bloodhound Boys (featured in Issue 8, SGS magazine) was turned into a musical by the boys and premiered at St Ives Preparatory in August 2018.

25. Andrew Cranna at St Ives 2015.jpg

Andrew Cranna at St Ives 2015

Book crop.jpg

Andrew Cranna’s latest book – The Astronaughties Moon Mayhem

29. Andrew Cranna's sons Paddy, Archie and Leo Crop.jpg

Andrew Cranna’s sons Paddy, Archie and Leo