Black Rock Primary School - The First Years

The First Years

The school opened on 1st July 1910 with Robert F. Scott appointed as the first Head Teacher. The Public Works Department reported on 11th July that the building contract had been completed at a cost of £545/12/-.

Elevation of back of school, 1909

The initial inventory lists 35 dual desks, 2 tables and 2 chairs, and on the 26th August the following items were added - maps of Europe, Australia, the World, and Victoria, two dozen inkwells, one dozen large and one dozen small slates and one Broadribb's Temperance Book.

On the 5th September 1910 Mary A West, a relieving teacher, was appointed to succeed Robert Scott. Some of the recorded problems she encountered were:

  • A ladder was missing.
  • The Department was consulted to determine whether it or Miss West was responsible for payment of the sanitary rates.
  • "Between Friday evening and Monday morning (18th November) indecent language was cut or scratched deeply in large letters through new paint on two of the out-offices. I beg to state that I feel satisfied that none of the school children is implicated in this matter".

Arthur J. Hauser took charge as Temporary Head Teacher from 5th December until the end of the year when Miss Euphemia Baker was appointed as the first permanent Head Teacher. She succeeded in having a niece, Miss Effie Baker, employed as a Junior Teacher at the school.

BRPS 1919

BRPS 1919

By July 1912 the enrolment had increased to 97 pupils but as accommodation was provided for only 70 pupils overcrowding problems arose. Miss Baker wrote to the Department urging that desks which had been applied for and promised some months before, be forwarded. She stated "By placing desks of the same height together five children are accommodated in two desks. Kerosene cases are used for the infants".

The School Committee inspected the school in October and found that forty children were being taught by a Junior Teacher in the ‘lavatory’ (the entrance hall which contained hand basins) and that some children were forced to sit on the lavatory basins. This situation prompted the parents to put pressure on their local member, Mr. A.R. Snowball to pursue their case with the Minister suggesting the construction of an additional building to provide for the increased enrolment which had now reached 110.

As a result Mr. Russell, the new District Inspector visited the school and reported "Black Rock is a seaside resort and will always present the difficulties experienced in such places. During summer many visitors with their families come to spend the ‘season’ and they require accommodation for their children at school. After the ‘season’ the normal attendance is reverted to. I cannot recommend that any permanent additions be made under the circumstances. If, however, there are sufficient teachers, a tent or marquee such as has been erected at Sandringham might be supplied".

In November the Director recommended the erection of a play pavilion similar to those at Sandringham at an estimated cost of 140. Progress was still slow, despite a further deputation to Mr. Snowball, M.L.A., and a visit to the school on 17th February 1913 by Mr.Frank Tate, the Director of Education.

A new Head Teacher Mr. John J. McKinley was appointed on 1st January 1913 and during February he found it necessary to dismiss the school for a day as three teachers were attempting to teach 116 scholars in seven grades in a building designed to accommodate a maximum of seventy, and the temperature on that day in the classroom was 99.7 degrees F, with no children present.

Eventually a pavilion classroom 30' x 20' (9.1m x 6.1m) was constructed in July at a cost of £122/10/-. However it had canvas blinds covering the openings in the upper half of the walls and these proved to be a constant source of trouble requiring continual maintenance. This building later became a sheltershed and was demolished in 1968.

A sheltershed attached to the pavilion classroom was erected in 1913 and funded by parents but in February 1914 the School Committee wrote to the Department asking for a grant to pay the £36 still owing as some persons were not honoring their promises to pay because of notices served by Sandringham Council for private road constructions. The Department replied in the negative.

During the early years much of the surrounding land was thickly covered with tea-tree and scrub and as the only water supply at the school was from a rain water tank, teachers and parents shared a fear of the danger of fire. The pupils however did not seem to worry so much and it is reported that rival teams used large tea-tree branches in lance fights.

A second pavilion classroom was constructed in 1916 at a cost of £160 but this did not cope with the increasing enrolments for very long. By 1918 more than 250 pupils were attending and Mr. Snowball, M.L.A., was again invited to visit the school in the hope of gaining his support.

Additional land 88' x 488' (26.8m x 148.7m) in Arkaringa Crescent (then Bluff Street) was purchased for £130 on 2nd November 1918 but the brick building providing extra classrooms on the extended site was not constructed until 1922.

Temporary options considered included the purchase of "a large tent 24' x 18' (7.3m x 5.4m) similar to a pavilion classroom with an iron roof and wooden floor". Although it "belonged to some soldiers at the front, it could be secured if arrangements were made for suitable sanitary conveniences".

After an inspection this building was considered unsuitable and St. Agnes Hall was leased for two years at £40 per annum under the following conditions:

  • Classes were to be conducted on weekdays only.
  • The building was not to be used at night.
  • No rubbish or litter of any kind to be scattered about the grounds.
  • Room to be cleaned at least once a week.
  • Any breakage to be made good.

Despite an objection from Annie McCaughtry that she had been using the hall in 1917 to conduct a private school for 21 children, and Public Health Department reports in 1918 and 1919 listing additional facilities and conditions necessary for the building to be used as a day school, the St. Agnes accommodation was used for classes from Black Rock S.S. No. 3631 until the new brick building was completed in 1922.

Next: 1920-1930
Back: Early History and The Origin of BRPS