Balmoral Village

Historic Balmoral Village

Balmoral Public School est. 1893

A walk back in time

by Janine King, Balmoral Village

Above: Photo of Balmoral Public School taken on it’s 120th birthday.

Back in 1993, we had a small celebration with a few Balmoral families because the home that Steve Harrison and I live in was then 100 years old. In what seems a very short space in time our home is now almost 130 years old. So, I thought I would write a little from the research I have done over the last twenty-five years for my (unpublished) book “The Big Book of Balmoral – a brief history of a small village.”

Our school/home was the third school in Balmoral. The two Harry girls Emily and Amy (daughters of Henry and Esther Harry) helped to educate the local children when they came to live at Truro in the early 1880’s. In 1888 the locals erected a timber structure opposite the railway station in Railway Parade. The then ‘Department of Instruction’ furnished it and appointed Miss Eleanor Rixon, Miss Sarah Speer and then Miss Janet Thompson in August 1892. So, it was Miss Thompson who had the honour to be this schools first teacher.

This brick and stone School was built by Edward Bottley for £238 on a square block of land almost four acres in area. The department purchased the land from Mr William John Harry (son of Henry and Esther Harry) for £35 an acre.

From department records dated 28th June 1892 there were 34 pupils enrolled (21 boys and 13 girls). These were the crucial numbers that would decide the need for the department to build a school to replace the one built by the residents in 1888.

Originally it was one large classroom (25ft long x 16 ft wide with a 16 ft ceiling), built in double brick with a weatherboard weather-room (25 ft x 8 ft) attached at the front. It faced to the west.

Miss Thompson wrote to the department (dated 25th July 1893),

The old premises were vacated yesterday afternoon, and after dismissal the school property was removed to the new building. I had purposed vacating the old School on Friday 21st inst owing to a delay in obtaining the keys from the contractor I was unable to do so. Today (25th) was therefore the date of commencing work in the new premises.

It would appear that Miss Janet Thompson enjoyed her six years of teaching at Balmoral Public School this report shows. From the Picton Penny Post (September 9th 1896)

…The whole of the children attending the school were, on Saturday afternoon invited by the teacher (Miss Thompson) to a few hours recreation and a cup of tea, with the usual accompaniments, got up by her best style by herself and the ladies at “Truro” house. Judging by the glowing accounts given by the children, a really happy time must have been spent and the fourth anniversary of Miss Thompson’s arrival amongst them will be long remembered.

However, clashes with one of the parents resulted in the department demoting Janet Thompson and moving her to a less important school.

Miss Evangeline Daley started teaching here in January 1898, Miss Eva Squire in February 1914 and Miss Kate Cashman in May 1915.

On 26th January 1914, Mr Gideon Rutherford wrote to the Member of Parliament, Mr F. A. Badgery

Dear Sir,

On behalf of the parents in Balmoral I am writing to you. Our school here has not opened since the holidays & as all Public Schools near here have started it looks as if our school is to be closed. Our railway facilities are bad for sending our children elsewhere. And you will confer a great favour if you can get the Minister to give us a trial for three months & if the attendance does not warrant it close the School.

Though numbers were dwindling, the school remained open until in January 1917 the school again converted to half time with Hilltop. Mr J. Trainor began the teaching year under those circumstances.

Mr Robert Mathison was appointed in July 1917 and taught until April of I922. His letter to the department dated 24th November 1920 also records the unsatisfactory train service between the two schools…

…I was forced to speculate on a horse, to convey me to and from Hilltop on alternate days. I presume I am entitled to the full rate of forage allowance.

He was successful in his application to receive a forage allowance of £12:00 per annum.

Mr David Chapman was the half time teacher at Balmoral and at Buxton School and was appointed in April 1922 until the closure of Balmoral School in 1926. The children from Balmoral who attended during 1926 were recorded as follows:

  • Jack (John) Brown aged 13 years
  • Andrew Rutherford aged 13 years
  • Ella Batten aged 11 years
  • Dorothy Brown aged 11 years
  • Jack (John) Batten aged 9 years
  • Jean Harvey aged 7 years
  • Howard Ladbury aged 7 years
  • Maryann (but maybe Marjorie) Ladbury aged 5 years

The Balmoral School closed finally in December 1926 and those children disadvantaged by this, once again made the journey to Hilltop. At the end of 1928 there were four children from Balmoral attending Hilltop. They were Dorothy Brown, Ella and John Batten and Violet Travis.

Much later, the department employed teachers for small classes of students, the teachers, Mr Bride, Mr Caradice (1941) and Mr Bob Denham (in the late fifties).

‘The Old School’ in 1963.

From left Wayne Harvey, Neil Patching and Sid Harvey (father of Wayne) in front of the school Photograph with permission from Joyce Patching (nee Ferguson) whose family lived at Fernbank between 1935 and 1938.

 I understand Mr Caradice was the one who painted the main roads and rivers in NSW on the southern wall and the map of Australia on the northern wall. These maps were still mostly intact in 1976.

The department sold the school at auction to Mr Jim Richie in 1963. He sold it directly to us in 1976. We became friends with the Lucas’s who lived in ‘Toad Hall’ and  called us the ‘school kids’ (affectionately) and I suppose that is how we appeared thirty-seven years ago.

The department however retained some acres at the corner of River St and Railway Parade for at least another twenty-five years until it must have been decided there would never be a need for a public school in Balmoral.

And this is pretty much how it looked in 1976 when Steve and I located it here in Balmoral, fell in love with it and made it our home.

My research has been with the Archives Office and conversations and correspondence with past students and/or their families.

Janine King

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