About this blog

This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.
Heather Arnold.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Island Road School No. 3952

The Island Road School, formerly Dalmore East, opened June 23, 1919. The people of Dalmore East had been agitating for a school for a few years. In August 1916, Mr W. Giles, the Secretary of the Manks Road and District Farmers Association had written a letter to the Education Department with a list of 36 children who might attend the local school. In October 1916, the Education Department purchased one and a half acres of land from F. Wood for £20.00 per acre. A working bee was held to clear the land as the Education Department had a spare building in Koo-Wee-Rup that they were willing to move to Dalmore.  This building was the original Koo-Wee-Rup State School, No. 2629, building. School No. 2629 had opened on November 1, 1884 on the corner of Bethunes Road and the Koo-Wee-Rup to Bayles Road. It was originally known as Yallock School and changed its name to Koo-Wee-Rup on July 24, 1903. The building was shifted into Rossiter Road (where the Secondary College is) in September 1910. This building became redundant when a new building was opened in February 1915. It was this redundant building that the Education Department wanted to move to Dalmore East.

The School, in 1913, on the Rossiter Road site.
Photograph from the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical society collection.

Perhaps due to the War there were difficulties finding a contractor to re-locate the building and it wasn’t until May/June 1919 that a contractor could be found to move the School.  When it was opened on June 23, 1919 there were eighteen children enrolled –Alice Dixon, Annie Dixon, Ethel Dixon, Elsie Follett ,Vera Follett, Bessie Giles, Pauline Giles, Rosalind Levey, Wilfred Levey, David Mills, Alice Pepper, Gwendelon Pepper, Samuel Pepper, Sarah Pepper, Clara Wood, Clifford Wood, Emily Wood and Frank Wood. Another twelve children enrolled during the year. 

The first teacher was Miss Estella Forbes. Estella Forbes had previously taught at Flemington Primary School and this School had an average attendance of 580 students in 1915, so Island Road would have been a bit of a shock to her. Estella did not stay very long as the first year of operation saw a succession of teachers; after Estella there was Elizabeth Anderson, then Alexander Munro, then Eric Elliott who started in 1920 and left in 1923. This succession of teachers probably reflects the reality of teaching in a one teacher country school - many of these teachers would have been young; there was no school house so they would have had to board locally or else travel in from Koo-Wee-Rup on a horse, or as Eric did a bicycle. As well, resources were poor and the teachers complained about lack of basic resources such as desks and blackboards.  

The School, in 1969, at Island Road.
Photograph from the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection.

The School was surrounded by water in the December 1934 flood but it did not enter the actual building, although the shelter shed and outdoor toilets were inundated.  It was due  to the fact the school was an island during the flood that James Marshall, who was the teacher at the school from 1932 until 1936, suggested that the school change its name to Island Road School  and this was adopted in 1935. 

From 1919 until 1945 there had been 15 teachers at the school, and the school was closed for a short time in 1944-45 when no suitable accommodation for a teacher could be provided. This succession of teachers came to an end in 1945 when Allan Humphries was appointed, as he stayed until 1955. During his tenure, electricity was installed in 1953.
A Young Farmers Club was established at the school in 1939 by teacher Walter Koochew and in 1946 Allan Humphries started a Scout Troop, with himself as the Scout Leader.  Mr Humphries also started evening classes to teach English to the newly arrived migrants from Holland, Italy and Greece. After Humphries left in 1955 there was another succession of teachers with none staying more than three years.  At the time of the Island Road School Golden Jubilee celebrations and ‘Back-to’ in 1969, student numbers were down to seventeen. In a documet that we have at the Society, it was reported that in the fifty years the school had educated 344 students. Over 500 people attended the Golden Jubilee celebrations.  Island Road School, No.3952, closed in 1974 when enrolments were down to six. 

In 1984, Koo-Wee-Rup Primary School, No. 2629, celebrated its centenary and fittingly its original building was moved back onto the Koo-Wee-Rup Primary School site from Island Road that year.   

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