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The following information and images has been reproduced here with the kind permission of Angela George [teaghan11@yahoo.com.au]  (http://aussiebottleblog.blogspot.com/)

From Bark Hut to Brick Veneer -
150 Years of Education in Pambula.
The first decade - 1849 -1859:

Following the National Education Act of 1848, Pambula became the seventh public school in the state and in 1999 was the fourth oldest still in operation.


With the Board of National Education promising aid, it opened its doors on July 23, 1849 in a newly repaired hut supplied by Mr J. Walker on what is now known as the Oaklands property. A temporary teacher, Mr J. Grealy, took charge of the new school and was supplied with books worth £2/14/.

Bark hut built by Pambula Public School students for their sesqui centenary in 1998.

Two and a half acres in Section 4 of the original township was claimed by Messrs Walker, Jones and Bell for the permanent school, the men stating in correspondence to the National Board that "...at the same time we would strongly recommend that Allotments number 2 and 3 of the same Section and Allotment number 1 of Section 1 should be retained - as it would be a most eligible situation for an Industrial School - a project which (with your assistance) we entertain some hopes of carrying out at no distant period."

One acre of land was eventually granted for the National School, and the Board also authorised reservation of a further nine acres for Industrial School purposes. Construction of the town's first permanent school built of brick and shingles commenced in late November 1849. The building consisted of two small rooms for the teacher and two separate classrooms, to segregate male and female pupils. Mr Grealy remained in charge of the school for two months until the first permanent teacher, Henry Fowler, arrived to take over.

Map of the allotment of land reserved for the Pambula National School in the original town on the flat.

Henry Fowler had previously been appointed to the colony's first National School at Kempsey, thus becoming New South Wales' first public school teacher. After many disagreements with the Kempsey community, that Board dismissed Mr Fowler early in 1849. In turn, he was appointed to the new Pambula school on September 24 the same year.

Like many other National School teachers, Mr Fowler would have experienced hardship through the fee-paying system that was then in force. Although local residents appeared happy to contribute more than half of the required £150 towards cost of erecting the school, Pambula was by and large a poor community. The majority of parents were irregular in their payment of school fees, set at two pence per child, but no more than six pence per family unless they felt they could afford it. As the teacher was, in part, reliant on fees for his wage, he would have felt this quite keenly.

As Pambula was the only government aided educational facility in the entire district, it was pointed out that some of the students were "...coming from distant parts and boarding with the teacher or some other family in the neighbourhood." Attendance rapidly increased until by the winter of 1850 it was as high as 51. However, with local industry predominantly agricultural and pastoral, spring and summer saw a marked decrease when children were required to help with harvesting.

Mr Fowler became the first in a long line of Pambula’s teachers to experience snubs from by the community. In this instance a group of local people, led by Mr Grealy, laid charges against the teacher which, although rejected, created discontent in the community. One charge was that of intoxication, and although this was regarded as petty, it was eventually on this note that the teacher departed.

The first of the many floods that plagued the school on the flat took place in May 1851, with water rising to 16 inches over the floor of the building. After spending considerable time moving his possessions to safety, Mr Fowler went to the Governor Fitzroy Hotel, where he intended to have a brandy to revive himself. Upon leaving the hotel, he happened to meet Mr Walker, who had done all he could to help the teacher, but so embarrassed was Mr Fowler at having been found drinking that he went straight home and penned his resignation from the board's service.

James Stritch was appointed to take over the position at Pambula National School, remaining until September 1852. By this time, attendance had fallen to just twelve as a result of many families leaving for Port Phillipp in the newly created colony of Victoria. Those local residents who remained now found themselves without a teacher and the school closed as a result.

By this time, the Walker family had also departed and it became necessary to form a new Board of Local Patrons. Selected to serve on it were men whose names were to become synonymous with local history years later - Charles Bell, Syms Covington, Hugh Cameron and Bartholomew Carragher amongst them. By this time, residents had formed themselves into two opposing factions over the education question, and whilst one side petitioned for the return of Mr Fowler, others tried to get Mr Stritch reinstated. This was to no avail however, and the school remained closed for almost twelve months.

Finally, in July 1853, Richard Birkett was appointed to the Pambula school and was allowed £8/8/- to cover the steamer fare for himself and his wife to travel to the district. Upon arrival, he found the school building in poor condition, and worked hard to repair the flood damage. He also supervised fencing of school paddocks at a cost of £35 to the Board. The new teacher obviously came prepared to combine teaching with agricultural pursuits, and quickly made use of the nine acres at his disposal, planting potatoes, fruit trees and Indian seed, in addition to grazing a few cows. Because of the proximity to the river, the area was aptly suited to such activities, and the excellent crops grown by the teacher soon created petty jealousy in the town. This, combined with his perceived interference in local land matters, was to lead to his downfall locally. When he arrived to find no land available for use by small farmers, Mr Birkett set about organising a petition. He later wrote that "There were a few cultivators, including two semi-squatters at the Bega fief. One of the latter rented from Mr Peter Imlay (survivor of Messrs Imlay, pioneers of the settlement at Twofold Bay); the other from the Twofold Bay Pastoral Association...It was my steady purpose to do the best I could for the district; so, that, in the aspiration to see settlement extended, I set about the work of opening up the adjacent Bega country. The construction of the then existing Government was inimical to free settlement and any appeal to the local government authority in that behalf would have been assured of futility." In so doing, Mr Birkett managed to alienate Arthur Manning, then Crown Lands Commissioner, and the person to whom he was referring when writing of the local government authority.

Through his agricultural successes and "...his annoying disposition...", the teacher soon lost the confidence of some local residents, who withdrew their children from the school, despite the fact that he was very good at his job. By 1855, the problem had come to a head, with many letters exchanged between the National Board of Education Secretary, Mr W. C. Wills, Mr Birkett, Mr Bell and Mr Grealy. Mr Bell claimed that the teacher interfered too much in the residents' personal lives, while Mr Grealy referred to him as an "...honest, sober and industrious man..." deserving of fair play.

Mr Birkett, however, "...could not rise superior to the brewing mischief..." and had departed by the beginning of 1856, when he was replaced by Michael Lappan, who, together with his wife, had been brought from Ireland where they had both been trained. Unfortunately though, these two otherwise successful teachers were unable to heal what was becoming a deepening rift within the community. Mr Lappan learnt from the mistakes of his predecessor, however, and leased out the school paddock, receiving rent in kind after the crop had been harvested.

Despite this, in an area where there were more than sixty school age children, attendance levels continued to fall until by the time the Lappan's took over, there was an average attendance of just 29 pupils. This was attributed, in part, to the unhealthy state of the school, no doubt due to its location on a flood plain. Added to this was the fact that by this time a definite shift of occupation had begun, away from the flats towards the higher site of the present day town's location. Despite this, relocation of the school was deferred due to financial constraints.

When the situation did not improve, the Lappan's departed around July 1858, and once again, the school was closed. Police Magistate Murray of Eden was appointed Chairman of the Local School Board in September that year. One of his first actions was to raise school fees to supplement the teacher's salary. At this point. James Stritch was the teacher, having returned in December 1858.
However, when Mr. Murray resigned less than a year later, the local community resumed their bickering, and this, combined with Mr' Stritch's distinct unpopularity, saw attendance rates continue the fall while a private school operating in the district flourished.

An entirely new start? 1860 - 1869:

It was upon this rather depressed note that the Pambula National School entered its second decade.

Flooding continued to plague the school and in 1860 it was stated that "The National School at Panbula was full in the stream, the doors were burst open and a quantity of mud, sand and timber occupied the place of the teacher for several days. It is a wonder that the Board of Commissioners do not see to this matter as I fear very much that the teacher and the building will make a moonlight flit."

By 1861, 30 scholars were on the roll, with an average attendance of just 19. It was noted in June that year that "The building is sometimes surrounded by floods to a height of three feet. The organisation is defective. The children are neither punctual nor regular. Much noise and disorder. The walls are dirty and damp. None but the ordinary subjects are taught, and of those, the smallest quantity possible. The few children present were deficient in acquirements."

The same year, the Chief Inspector commented that "This report shows that the Pambula School is in a thoroughly disreputable state...an entirely new start must be made to bring the school into good working order; and in my opinion, the only way to accomplish this object is to sell the present building and land and erect suitable buildings in a better position...I fear the teacher will have to be dismissed from the Board's service; he appears to grow worse every year. At the same time it is only fair to bear in mind the extenuating circumstances. I believe the position and its surroundings to be enough to demoralise any men [sic], except one of strong minds and firm principles."

Unfortunately the only advice heeded was the dismissal of the teacher, which took place in July 1862. Once again the school closed, remaining so until September. Fortunately though, Cornelius Moloney successfully applied for the position, arriving straight from the Fort Street Model Training School. By December, when an inspection was carried out, 48 students were on the roll, and the average attendance stood at 30. The report noted that "There is no important deficiency connected with the material state of the school, which is now very fair. Moral tone of the school is very fair. Subjects appropriate and to the required extent. Methods very fair. While aiming at the intellectual faculties, the attention of the pupils is well kept. Since present teacher took charge, the foundation for future improvement has been laid. At present, the absolute attainment of the pupils are small."

Despite inexperience, Mr Moloney succeeded where many had failed before, within a year improving the school to such a degree that he was sent a personal note of gratitude from the Board. To this he replied that "I certainly have zealously laboured to improve the school, under circumstances calculated to depress many; thank God! I have succeeded; and for the Board's kindness in thus acknowledging my services I beg respectfully to tender my most sincere thanks."

Although enrolment only increased by one to number 49 the following year, average attendance leapt to 38.

From May 1862, flooding continued to wreak havoc with the school, continuing throughout winter. It was at this time that the Pambula River changed its course, the school finding itself located between the original channel and a billabong just sixty yards from the school house.

Further flooding in 1866 only added to the problems of location. The building was, however, partially protected by a newly constructed road and the re-diversion of the river, created by the shear sweat of local men using shovels to give nature a helping hand in creating the new river course.

Despite Mr Moloney's success in improving the state of the local school, he was transferred in September 1864, just two years after his arrival. Mr B. W. Hinton was sent to replace him, remaining for three years, during which the school had to be closed for short periods due to a scarlet fever outbreak and a diphtheria epidemic.

Although attendance did continue to fall to below thirty, this was more an indication of the economic nature of the district than the former problems of unpopularity that had faced so many of Mr Hinton's predecessors. It was stated that “The bulk of the population do not live in the township of Panbula but at a distance of from two to three miles, too far for young children to walk; any older children are unfit to do any work for their parents on their return. The majority of the people are so poor as to absolutely require the services of their children, thus preventing regular attendance. The liability of the situation to inundation further operates prejudicially to the attendance."

Mr Hinton was the first teacher to address problems facing children in this impoverished, rural community. Rather than try to boost attendance when their labour was obviously so vital to the family's income, he established night classes instead.

Pambula National School became Pambula Public School following the introduction of Henry Parkes' Public Schools Act in 1866, although there was little change in the school itself, apart from the name. In October the same year an additional acre of land was added to the school site, although the reason for this remains unclear.

By 1867, attendance had slid back to 33, with an average of just 21, and with the transfer of the Hintons to Berkeley in May 1867, the department refused to send a replacement until it was certain they would have a place to both live and work. Apparently they had decided that the original school on the flat was no longer suitable, but were loath to do anything themselves to rectify it. It therefore fell to the local community to provide alternative accommodation. Fortunately, Mr Baddeley, who operated a tannery in Monaro Street, offered a room for classes, whilst a cottage was rented in which the teacher could live.

Joseph Nash arrived in October, but quickly provoked the antagonism of the Local Board. At a meeting presided over by the Inspector, the dispute was resolved, and as a result, five additional members were appointed to the Local Board in an attempt to better represent a broader cross section of the community. In practice, however, the solution was not successful, with the then Board Chairman, Mr Manning, refusing to either recognise the new members or resign until he departed for Queensland five years later.

The local school inspector, in seeking a solution for a school building, pointed out that a half acre site, Lot 14 of Section 11, was available on the corner of Monaro and Toalla Streets, right in the heart of the growing township. Previously reserved for a Mechanics Institute, the Education Department acquired the land for Pambula's new school, the transfer being completed in September 1867.

The arrival of the harvesting season again saw a decrease in pupil attendance, which, at the end of 1868 ultimately resulted once again in the closure of the school and the departure of the teacher. Although this was short-lived, and the school reopened the following April, it did so with the reduced status of a provisional school. Attendance stood at less the twenty, and the wife of the Merimbula Police Constable, Mary Nevin, took over the teaching job. By this time classes had reverted to being held, at times, in the original school on the flat or in a room rented by the parents. In order to call the children together from the widespread settlement, the Local Board wrote "We would therefore respectfully suggest that a bell be provided for the purpose of calling the children together at a uniform time; and would beg to know whether the Council of Education would have any objection to provide the school with one." Apparently they did not object, because a bell was sent on board the steamer Merimbula.

Just a month after reopening, the school was reinstated to Public status, with attendance maintained at 45 pupils, despite the continued existence of a local private school.

A new school and a home for the teacher - 1870 - 1879:

In May 1870 flooding recurred, finally rendered the original building completely unsafe. Once again, Mr Baddeley provided a room at the rear of his tannery, and the Local Board was granted permission to sell the building on the flat. Board members also turned their minds towards planning ways to raise the funds required for construction of the new school.

After the sale of the original school building raised £21/10/-, a subscription list was opened and when £50 was raised in a short time, local residents began to plan for a residence of rubble stone as well. This was put on hold, however, when the architect reported that a residence would be too expensive. Deciding to proceed with the school only, the contract was let for £156 to Messrs Booth and Nowles, who agreed to make 18-inch walls to withstand strong winds. Timber for the new school was supplied by a sawmill located five miles from the township.

Although the building was due for completion in June, it was not until August 1872 that Pambula's second school building was ready for its occupants who, no doubt, were pleased to move into a permanent home.

By this time, however, the unpopularity of the teacher was again causing problems. This time, Mrs Nevin was accused of using the school as a nursery and of being careless in her work. Another criticism levelled at her was that of her religion. Mrs Nevin, a Roman Catholic, became a victim of the religious division that was to plague the Pambula community for many years to come. This was despite the fact that of the 32 pupils enrolled, 22 were members of the Roman Catholic faith.

As a result, the Board notified Mrs Nevin that teaching was not a suitable position for a Police Constable's wife, in response to which she resigned. However, when the Chief of Police overruled this protest, Mrs Nevin withdrew her resignation and resumed work in October. Attendances, however, continued to fall as parents sent their children to Mr Wilson’s private school, despite the fact that it was in a barely tolerable state. The situation did not improve until Mrs Nevin was transferred at the beginning of 1873.

Mrs Nevin's replacement, Thomas Wellings, was no stranger to the district, having taught at the Greig's Flat/Lochiel half-time schools prior to his appointment to Pambula. Although he was not regarded as a particularly good teacher, he did begin the process of healing the rift between the local school and the wider community.

Although enrolment increased to 45, average attendance stood at just 16. However, an impressive 41 pupils were present when an inspection was carried out in August 1873. It was noted that:
"The pupils fidget and stare about, giggle a great deal, and in many little ways show they have not been trained to habits of strict and instant obedience...All this might be changed with a more determined government."

It was added that:
"As far as mechanical adherence to ordinary forms and methods...the teacher faithfully goes through his daily routine, but as yet he has only produced poor results. If he were to determine that, like it or not, the children should, week by week, do, and do well, all the work set out for them, if he would test his own labours and when unsound progress showed itself, spare neither time, himself nor his pupils, till thorough mastery of the subjects in hand had been obtained, the school might soon become a credit to himself and the district."

Although enrolment rose by just one by 1874, average attendance increased to just over 32, and much improvement was noted during an inspection in September:
"The discipline has much improved in the year, but increased firmness and consistency in government would still be advisable…The mark for dictation is above average, that for reading, writing, spelling and singing, well up on average, and that for arithmetic, grammar, geography, object lessons and drawing, below. The general proficiency is fair."

By this time, the local community had again turned their attention to erecting a teacher's residence, commencing with a small sum left over from construction of the school. With the school site too small and sloping for addition of another building, the search began for land on which to erect the teacher's residence. In March 1876, it was stated that the most satisfactory arrangement was to purchase the land next to the school, containing a small wooden cottage that could serve as a kitchen. It was also hoped to construct a stone building of three rooms.

Despite the Local Board’s determination with respect to the residence, the process of purchasing the land was to become a protracted one and was not finalised until August 1876. The same year, an additional half-acre, Lot 15, was purchased from a Mr Lyons and added to the school grounds.
Classroom achievement continued to improve, and in 1875 the inspector noted:
"Discipline improved, government firmer. Mark for reading, dictation, arithmetic and grammar above average. Other subjects, below. General proficiency between fair and very fair."

In 1876 the enrolment increase to the largest yet, 52, with the inspector commenting:
"Half the pupils regular. The discipline has improved and is now very fair. Arithmetic is a weak subject throughout the school. The marks obtained for other subjects are of average character. The general proficiency is fair."

The Local Board worked steadily towards erection of the teacher's residence but eventually local board secretary Mr C. H. Baddeley wrote that local people were not of affluent circumstances, stating that they should be able to raise about £20 in cash in addition to another £15 on credit. He continued:
"However reluctant I may feel to adopt such a course [abandon plans to erect a teacher's residence] I am afraid I cannot see my way clear to proceed any further with the matter, as it will be impossible to raise any further contributions, and at present I do not feel justified in adding to the personal sacrifice to which I have submitted in remitting the timely proceedings."

When the Department decided to continue with construction of the residence, Mr Baddeley found it necessary to draw up the plans himself, these being approved in 1876. He also advised that the residence be kept separate from the timber kitchen in order to reduce fire risk. Early in 1877, stonemason, Jacob Bernasconi, and carpenter, Joseph Hills, completed the job.


The teacher’s residence was completed in early 1877. It continues to stand in Monaro Street, Pambula, today.

After Mr Wellings was transferred to Bodalla, Sydney Apsey assumed responsibility for the school in 1879, by which time enrolment remained steady at about 50 pupils.

Expansion, 1880 - 1889:

Mr Apsey built on the groundwork laid by his predecessor and relations continued to improve between school and community. Mr Apsey and his family were quite musical, regularly giving concerts and recitals for the local community. However, in his efforts to provide entertainment, Mr Apsey found himself in trouble with the Department after allowing "Professor Jacobs, the Great Wizard of the East" to use the school for a performance. Despite the Inspector commenting that he had been both instructed and amused by the performance, Mr Apsey was reprimanded.

Since at least 1858, the old school paddocks on the flat had been rented out to local farmers, the funds used to carry out renovation and building work on the school and teacher's residence. A memorandum from the department stated:
"...the rents have been from time to time expended by them [the local board] upon the school premises. Some of the accounts are missing, however others are confused and it does not seem possible to ascertain exactly how much has been received and expended."

Despite the fact that the Council of Education stated in 1879 that:
"The Board now seems to be expending the rent judiciously in small improvements...the matter does not appear to require any further interference in the Council's part."
control of the paddocks was removed from the Local Board in 1880, which meant that funds were no longer available to carry out work at a local level.

Teacher William Apsey with students in front of the second permanent Pambula Public School.

Although by this time, schools had been established in the surrounding district, students continued to travel what was a considerable distance inasmuch as no motorised transportation was available. For this reason, Mr Apsey wrote in 1880 that there was a need for a school paddock in which students could leave their horses whilst in class.

On a number of occasions, Mr Apsey applied for a transfer from Pambula, commenting:
"I have been and still am compelled to allow my six children (four boys and two girls) to sleep in one bedroom; and the room intended for a front sitting room is converted into a kitchen and store-room where washing the children, cooking meals and eating them, with everything in the way of something else, creates a state of things somewhat funny but at the same time indescribably irritating, unpleasant and unwholesome."

When finally Mr Apsey received a promotion in 1883, Mr Osbourne Wrightson, an older man with a grown family, was appointed to take over the position. By the following year, enrolment had risen to number 84 pupils, and with the township of Pambula continuing to progress, it was decided to extend the school room to accommodate the growing student population.

Mr Robert Haynes completed the new section, consisting of a weatherboard room measuring 20 foot by 16 foot by 11 foot, at a cost of 150 pounds. In August 1885, the architect for public schools reported that the extension had been completed and occupation took place the same month. By this time, Pambula had become a two-teacher school, with an assistant teacher working to maintain the growing student population.

In 1886 the District Inspector reported in less than glowing terms on the material condition of the school building and teacher's residence, stating:
"I have the honour to report that the roof of both the school building and teacher's residence...leak in consequence of the loosened state of the shingles;..."

He also asked that a number of loose posts and decaying palings in the fence in front of the school be repaired and the following year, tenders were called to address the problem.

By 1887, students numbered 80, and average attendance stood at above 50.

Following Mr Wrightson’s transfer, William Healey arrived as head teacher in 1889.

Battle for a third school, 1890 - 1899:

Pambula began the new decade with an upgrade, in 1890, to a sixth class school. That year pupils and teachers joined with many others throughout the state in celebrating Arbour Day with a tree and shrub planting ceremony. Through local subscriptions, Mr Healey raised forty shillings towards the event, with the Department giving an equal amount and through the school's involvement, the teacher set about beautifying the school grounds.

Pambula Public School, 1892, with teacher William Healey.

Robert Ashworth and his family arrived in 1895, and it was not long before the new teacher had to contend with problems caused by his assistant teacher. Charles Shea, appointed in 1891, proved lazy and troublesome, and in mid-1895 absconded without informing the teacher, the Department or even his family. Finally in July he resigned and departed for Western Australia. A report on his unfavourable conduct had been filed with the Department the previous month.

With enrolment at 91, an assistant teacher had become a vital part of the school, and a Miss Jenner replaced Charles Shea.

Contagious diseases proved to be the bane of public schools throughout the 1800’s, and when a diphtheria outbreak struck the Ashworth family in 1896, the school was closed down for a period.

Mr Ashworth was to become one of the most popular teachers to serve at the Pambula school, fitting into the community with ease and occupying a prominent position through his involvement in various local organisations. He started a library at the school and staged a concert in 1896 to raise funds for the project.

Despite his popularity, however, he still managed to make at least one enemy. Local blacksmith, Mr John Hamilton, lodged a complaint about the teacher in 1896 that led to an official enquiry by the Inspector of Schools. At the hearing, however, Mr Ashworth was able produce some of the most prominent citizens in the local community to appear on his behalf, including two J.'s P., the local doctor, bank manager, solicitor, post and telegraph master, sergeant of police, a police constable and editor of the Pambula Voice. Mr Hamilton did not even appear at the inquiry, and as a result, it was decided that the allegations were without foundation.

Even when the lease on the schools paddocks ran out in 1897 and Mr Ashworth decided to retain them to grow crops in his leisure time, the action did not raise the ire of the local community as it had done a few years before.

By 1897, the need for better school accommodation was apparent, enrolment having increased to at least 100. With such a rapidly growing student population, it became necessary to borrow extra seating from the local School of Arts. The Department of Public Instruction wrote in August that the Chief Clerk of Works was preparing specifications and estimates to have the school extended. However, the local community had decided they wanted more, and so began a very drawn out process to lobby for a new building. The Pambula Progress Association took up the cause at their meeting in September 1897, but were informed that the Minister would not grant money for a new school. The Pambula Voice stated in November the same year:
"It seems monstrous to assert that the present school building is adequate for all requirements. We have previously pointed out that it was built to accommodate 70 scholars; and the teachers are hampered in their work by the partition that divides the school. There are over 100 children on the roll, and sometimes a hundred scholars in attendance, while several of the children over five years have been refused admission owing to want of room..."

A petition was started by the local Progress Association, and when local member, Mr W. H. Wood, MP, came to Pambula, committee member Mr A. W. King, seized the opportunity and took him through the school. Despite these efforts, however, a new school was not approved and an extension was completed instead in 1898. The school was closed down for three weeks whilst the work was carried out.

It was not long though before the Pambula Voice again reported:
"The school building itself is in a very dilapidated condition and last week one of the walls cracked, making it necessary to move the pupils to another room."

The battle is won, 1900 - 1909:

The new century began with the continuing battle for a new school. The Pambula Voice again became involved in the issue, stating in 1902:

"The unsuitability of the accommodation…has been keenly felt for some time. The school building is divided into two compartments, the head teacher (Mr Ashworth) having charge of the senior scholars and the assistant (Miss Huggart) looking after the juniors. The larger room has the smaller number of scholars, while the junior room is uncomfortably crammed with pupils. The petition separating the two apartments should be removed, or an additional teacher appointed."

In March 1903, the local Progress Association applied for permission to sell off the school paddocks for funds to construct a new school and when the department declined, the Progress Association took up another petition, the Voice again weighed in on the argument by commenting:
"It is of no use patching up and adding to the present piebald structure..."

The local member, Mr Wood, once more took up the case, but again without luck. In reply to the petition forwarded to the Department through Mr Wood, it was stated:
"...in view of the fact that the present average attendance is only 92 and the existing accommodation is ample for an attendance of 112, the Minister for Public Instruction is not prepared to accede to the request."

During 1905, the need for a new school was a persistent topic at Progress Association meetings, and in August that year, the Voice stated:
"It must be apparent to everyone that the barn-like building is unsuitable for the purposes for which it is used..."

By the end of that year, however, the Progress Association had decided that not only was a new school building necessary, so too was a new site. Finally, the Department held an inquiry in December 1905, conducted by the local inspector of schools, Mr Smith. With about twenty residents present, much discussion centred on the possibility or otherwise of a Pambula Roman Catholic School being opened. With more than 60 Roman Catholic pupils on the roll at the public school, Mr E. J. Cornell pointed out:
"In the event of a convent school being started locally it would have an effect on the school roll. The question of a new convent school had been considered but was shelved, but if the department did not erect a suitable building it would prove an incentive to provide another school."

It was also pointed out to the inspector that the current site had no room for agricultural instruction, an important subject in many rural communities.

By 1906, the long awaited reply came that, after years of lobbying, Pambula would get their new school to accommodate 250 pupils.

That year two and a half acres were reserved by the Department of Lands in Monaro and Oregon Streets on Lots 7 to 16 of Section 46, and tenders were called for the erection of the new building.

It was announced in November that Mr O. Lassen’s tender for £547 had been accepted, and by March the following year work commenced on the new school. Messrs Raynor Brothers of Wyndham supplied timber for the building, which was of weatherboard construction.
The building was finally completed in July 1907, with the furniture installed the same month. Despite this, however, it remained unoccupied until November, when finally classes were moved into the third permanent Pambula school.

The third Pambula Public School, which was completed in 1908.
The head teacher pictured in the left centre rear is
Mr Robert Ashworth, who occupied the position from 1895 until 1912.

The same year, the institution was promoted to a fourth class school.

In 1906 the Pambula District Teacher's Association was formed. This provided a means of professional support within the isolated local district (particularly for one-teacher schools) and performed as a lobby group for issues upon which local teachers felt strongly. That year the organisation set about arranging first aid courses for local teachers.

Pambula remained an unsophisticated rural community and many of the problems that had faced students years before were still apparent. The local inspector, Mr Smith, expressed concern at the exhausted state of pupils, stating:
"...In dairying centres a want of punctuality is frequently shown...and pupils come to school exhausted. The amount of child work on these farms is appalling. Children of tender years are often up before daylight, tending cows, feeding calves and pigs, cleaning up manure; and when breakfast is over - about 9 or 9.30 o'clock - they have often a long walk to school where, fagged and sleepy, they are physically unfit to receive instruction. They are often compelled to leave school early in the afternoon, to assist at home in the same monotony of labour, unrelieved by fun of any kind..."

A campaign commenced in 1908 for technical classes at Pambula, although it was to take some lobbying before these finally began.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pambula Public School

War and peace, 1910 - 1919:

Although it started and ended on a note of peace, this decade would be remembered for the worst war that the world had ever seen, World War I.

An unexpected change came with the departure of long time teacher, Robert Ashworth. Mid way through 1912, he received a transfer to Branxton after almost two decades in the district.

He was replaced by Mr J. E. Roxby, who arrived in September the same year.

Life in a rural school had its moments, as was shown when the Voice reported in March 1914:
"A black snake three foot long was found coiled around a desk pedestal at the local public school on Monday morning. Needless to say he was soon taught a lesson for misbehaviour, much to the delight of the pupils present."

Mrs T. H. Woollard, a widow from Green Point, Millingandi, took up the assistant teacher's position at Pambula in 1915 after having served for many years at the nearby Millingandi school.
In 1914 Australia joined the Mother Country, England, in a war against Germany that became known as World War I. Although it had little direct impact on the school, the departure of young local men became a common occurrence. Organisations such as the Red Cross and War Chest, among others also became part of the local community.

Pupils at Pambula School became involved in patriotic work, contributing both funds and equipment towards the war effort. In 1915, they subscribed £1/1/- towards a travelling kitchen and ambulance and the following year made 121 handkerchiefs for the local branch of the Red Cross. In 1918, the children at the school were so enthusiastic to knit socks for the War Chest that it was necessary to procure more wool from headquarters.

It would seem that Mr Roxby, as a newcomer, became interested in the history of Pambula, involving the school pupils in a project to interview long time residents to document the district's past. "The History of Pambula" was published over two issues of the Pambula Voice during October 1920, touching on many aspects of the town's past:

"The Aboriginal inhabitants of this district called it Panboola, meaning "Big Waterhole" referring to the Broadwater or Pambula Lake. When the place was settled by white men, however, they called it Panbula, which name was retained for many years, all the Public Departments spelling it so. Gradually, however, a change to Pambula took place, until now the only Department calling it by the old name is the Lands Department."

The history also covered subjects such as early settlers, local industries (farming; timber; oysters; fish; and mining) businesses; communication and transport; religion; newspapers; hospital; police; tourism; and, of course, education.

In 1917 it was announced that the head teacher, Mr Roxby, had been transferred to Byron Bay, and the local community gathered to farewell the family. The Pambula Voice reported on the event:
"In spite the short notice and heavy rain…a large number of people, young and old, visited the School of Arts to bid farewell to Mr Roxby, head teacher of Pambula Public School for the past four years...also to Mrs Roxby and daughter Kathleen. Councillor J. H. Martin was voted to the chair and...said he regretted Mr Roxby was departing from amongst us, as during his past four years residence here he had made numerous friends. Mr Roxby was a silent and solid worker...He (the speaker), as a member of the local Recruiting Association had to thank Mr Roxby for its success...As for Mrs Roxby, she was always willing to help, but health reasons of late had prevented her taking an active part in public affairs. Miss Roxby had proved herself to be an energetic worker in all social matters, especially the local Red Cross and would be very much missed..."

Mr Snow from Bega took over the head teacher's position until Mr Williams, from Wauchope arrived to commence duties.

Pambula Public School’s special training class of 1917.
The teacher is believed to be David Williams.

When after more than four years, peace was finally declared, the school wasted little time joining with the community to celebrate the fact:
"...On the news being posted on the Voice telegram board, the citizens, young and old, big and little, took possession of the street armed with every description of articles that would make a noise. The excitement was intense when the school children under the management of their teachers marched into the street, led by the Australian flag and a number of prominent ladies of the town, each with a tin can and stick..."

John Williams, son of the head teacher, recalled the celebrations:
"When the Armistice was signed, a dozen women from the town centre approached the school banging kerosene tins, entered the playground and rang the school bell for two minutes. Lessons ceased abruptly and we rushed outside cheering to our hearts’ content.”

During 1919, the school celebrated with the rest of the community at the Pambula Peace Day, held on July 19, to mark the end of hostilities in Europe.

The decade ended on a note of panic, however, following outbreaks of pneumonic influenza throughout the country. It became a weekly topic of news in the local media, and although there were no reported cases in the Pambula district, events such as the district show had to be postponed whilst the school was also closed down for a period. The school also became the designated hospital in the event of a local outbreak, contagious cases not being admitted to the district hospital.

Pambula Public School students and teacher David Williams, C. 1919.

In February 1919 a free inoculation clinic was set up at the town's School of Arts, where about 70 people, principally children, were vaccinated against the 'flu by Dr Macarthur in one afternoon alone.

Ben Baddeley remembered the epidemic, commenting:
"We got vaccinated at the School of Arts once, after the First World War, and there was a bloody crowd there too..."

Between the wars, 1920 - 1929:

Pambula was abuzz in 1921 when it was announced that State Governor, Sir Walter Davidson and his wife Dame Margaret, would visit to unveil the Red Cross Roll of Honour. Mr Williams organised the school children to sing the National Anthem in front of the Post Office when the couple arrived.

Another visit by a notable Australian was that of Helen Keller with her teacher Miss Anderson, as recalled by Peter Williams:
“An appeal was made by them for donations to help the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb (afflictions suffered by Helen herself). The response to this appeal by the parents and particularly by the children was most generous. We collected money from every Tom, Dick and Harry in the place.”

Pambula Public School, grades 5 to 7, 1922 / 23.
Back row: unknown; unknown; Cliff Cole; Bob Woods; Noel Behl; Harry Wakeham; Ben Baddeley; Bob Williams.
Third row: unknown; Lloyd Williams; unknown; Paul Shanahan; unknown; Jack Bennett; unknown; Victor Laing.
Second row: unknown; Nita Lawless; unknown; Jean Pearson; ? Walker; Kath Longhurst; unknown; unknown; Florrie Laing; Ita English.
Front row: Vince woods; John Williams; unknown; unknown.
(About six pupils were absent when this photo was taken.)

With the war so fresh in people’s memories, patriotism still ran high, and one celebration the school always marked was Empire Day. In 1921, the school was provided with two flags, the Union Jack and the Australian Flag for the occasion.

Betty Whelan (nee Martin) recalled the celebrations, saying:
" We did celebrate Empire Day, they talked about the Empire and we always had a bonfire...all the kids used to go and build a big bonfire up at Dokerty's Park, as you go to Bald Hills, on the corner there..."

Elaine Brennan (nee Wellard) also recalled the bonfires associated with Empire Day:
"One big event of the year was the Bonfire on the hill, not far from the school. A gang of kids would cut down all the little trees we could find to dry and after that we would drag them down to the site, collecting old tyres and anything else we could find that would burn in an attempt to outdo Wally Woods and the Smith family at South Pambula. We would work for weeks after school and on weekends on this."

Tragedy touched the school directly in 1923, with the death of head teacher, Mr Williams. The father of nine met his untimely death boating on the Pambula River with Jack Severs.

The pair left the township on March 29 for Jigamy to gather oysters and fish for the following day, Good Friday. After camping at "Sailor's Home", near the river mouth, they set out just before daybreak, but capsized the boat.

After swimming ashore near his home on the south side of the river, Mr Severs met up with Fisheries Inspector R. Wakeham and Mr Tweedie, who immediately set about searching the river but failed to find any trace of Mr Williams, apart from the capsized boat.

When word had reached the township, local policeman, Constable Grinham, and several residents conducted a thorough search. Mr A. Hardaker placed his motor boat at their disposal, and for four days and nights, with only intermittent sleep, they dragged the river without success.

Mr Williams' fate remained a mystery until April 6, when local resident Ben Baddeley, camping at the Pambula River Mouth with his parents, discovered a leg floating close in shore whilst fishing. The presence of several sharks had been noted in the vicinity for some weeks prior, and it was assumed that the 52 year old teacher had been attacked by one after the capsize.

An inquest, held at the Pambula Court House before District Coroner Mr Nicholson, received evidence from Dr Trenerry, Sergeant Noble, Constable Grinham, Mr J. Severs, C. A. ("Ben") Baddeley Junior, Mr Wakeham and Mrs Williams, who positively identified her husband's remains by the clothing.

The verdict of the coroner was that:
"David Jenkin Williams, of Pambula...came to his death at the Pambula River on or about the morning of the 30th day of March, 1923, whilst boating with one Jack Severs. But how or by what means he died, whether by drowning or by being taken by sharks whilst alive, the evidence adduced does not enable me to say."

Soon after, Mrs Williams and her children moved to Sydney, and Mr William Haines arrived in April to take over the position as head teacher at the school.

Terry Dowling recalled Mr Haines:
"I can remember the first surf board I ever saw in my bloody life, old Billy Haines made that, our old school master made it out of balsa wood, you know all these modern surf boards and this that they've got, old Billy Haines sixty years ago made them, my bloody oath he did, that fellow was a plumber, he was a carpenter, he was a mechanic, he was a school master, and the Melbourne Cup in '32, when Peter Pan won the Melbourne Cup, he brought us older kids out of the school at Pambula and over to his verandah, on his bloody crystal set to hear bloody Peter Pan win the Melbourne Cup, all amplified, William Gorrie Haines would have been the most brainiest man I've ever run into in my life, and I'm 76 years of age..."

Soon after his arrival, Mr Haines set about organising a school concert, set around a cantata, together with other student performances.

Keith Hart recalled:
Ron Ford, Stan Ford, Harold Tyne and I all could carry a note fairly well and every Christmas time Mr Haines would organise a concert and every child in the school was in that concert. Mrs Ford used to come and train us... those Christmas concerts, they were a wonderful turnout. I remember we did the Cantata and it was called The Magic Wood and it was all about a mob of boys and they were naughty boys and I think they were tormenting the girls. The queen of the fairies who I think was my sister...and anyway, for punishment this queen of the fairies said that we had our hands stuck in our pockets and we couldn't pull our hands out of our pockets. Always a good moral to this stuff. And I remember we boys had to sing Whatever Shall we do. And the teacher's when they asked us to put up our hands when we wanted something, we couldn't. I remember another concert, later than that, there was Ron Ford, Harold Tyne and I, and we were in most of the singing things and Harold went and got appendicitis a couple of days before the concert was on so Ron and I, we took over all his singing parts as well, we were very busy. I think I was singing in nearly everything. But another thing I remember for the little ones, first class, all these little kids, it was an action song called the little gardeners, digging and raking, and of course they're going through the actions, and I remember well, that at the start of the whole show was Norm Ballantyne, and boy did he put some work into that garden. Of course all the mothers and the grandparents used to turn up and the old hall would be chock a block full of kids and it was lovely."

The concert was a huge success, with the Pambula Voice reporting:
"The long-looked for school concert in aid of the Pambula School of Arts eventuated in the hall on Wed. of last week, when the Cantata Dame Durden's School was staged under the management of Mr W. Haines, head teacher, and Mrs Pearson; the latter had charge of the musical part of the business, teaching the children their various songs etc. and every credit is due to her for the unqualified success."

Initially intended to raise funds for the school, Mr Haines was convinced to use it to benefit the School of Arts hall, which was suffering extreme financial hardship. However, this actually resulted in quite a public argument between Mr Haines and his co-coordinator, Mrs Pearson.

Many letters were printed in the Pambula Voice with regards to the argument, with Mr Haines stating that he had agreed to allow the first performance to aid the School of Arts on the condition that a second show would benefit the school. However, Mrs Pearson apparently then decided that she did not wish to have any association with Mr Haines as a result of the ensuing argument and refused to contribute to the second performance if any funds were going to be handled by him. When the School of Arts committee decided to allow the second concert to go ahead in their aid, the dispute began in earnest.

Mr Haines removed his two daughters, one of whom played a lead part, from the Cantata a week before the repeat performance, stating:
"So disgusted was I with the proceedings that I did what I would reckon any parent would do in a similar position and that was have nothing to do with it but let them run the concert on their own..."

In October 1923 the Pambula Public School's Parents and Citizens Association was formed at a public meeting. Mr W. Cole was elected first President of the association, with Messrs J. Haywood and A. E. Walker as Vice Presidents and Miss Mary Kennedy as both Secretary and treasurer. Altogether, 16 members were enrolled at that initial meeting, with a subscription fee fixed at one shilling a year.

The Association became one of the most important financial supporters of the school, meeting the shortfall when the Department did not provide all those things the school either needed or desired.

Pambula Public School C. 1920's.

By the 1920's, Pambula Public School was also participating in competition sports matches against other local schools, playing tennis, football and cricket, all played on the town grounds due to the fact that no such facilities were available on the school grounds.

Around 1927, Pambula began participating in the combined schools championship sports, which were initially organised through the Pambula District Teachers' Association.

In July 1928, the Association decided to organise a sports event for September 8. With the aim of making the day a family event, each family was requested to bring a basket. The event was held on the local sports ground, now known as Jack Martin Park. Messrs Haines (Pambula), Goodacre (Greig's Flat) and McMillan (Lochiel) were appointed a sub-committee to organise the day.

A report of the 1928 carnival was carried in a September issue of the Pambula Voice, which stated:
" The annual Combined Schools' Championship Sports was held on the Pambula Sports Ground on Saturday September 8. The weather was fine and ideal for the occasion. There were over 300 entries and 28 children's and adult's events were disposed of. Races were also held for the smaller children that did not compete in the Championship events. The gate takings amounted to £2/12/6, which was slightly better than last year. At the same time, there is still room for improvement. The adults should patronise these sports more, and make it a day for themselves as well as for the children."

During the next decade, school sports were to evolve into an event that the students were to look forward to all year.

Depression and the start of another war, 1930 - 1939:

During the 1930's the hardships of the Great Depression were experienced. For many in the local district, however, life was nowhere near as harsh as it would have been in the city. Although money was scarce, here in rural Australia, food at least was plentiful and community spirit prevailed.

Terry Dowling recalled the days of the Depression, stating:
"When I came back to my Auntie's place [from Sydney], we lived like Lords, food wise. We always had a good garden, chooks, plenty of butter, fresh milk, cream, we had a bloody old fishing net, we'd go down and set that behind the racecourse, we never had any money, but nobody else had any money either."

Despite this new clothes and shoes were a luxury, and some students came to school barefooted, while others wore shoes handed down with home made soles.

Pambula Public School, lower division, 1935.
Back: Ellis Heaton; Barry Bracken; Ron Haigh; Ron Legge; Don Brereton; Walter Woods; George Buckley.
Second row: Betty Villaume; Rene Barker; Betty Martin; Joyce Martin; Jean King (teacher); Lily Walker; Margaret Hart; Freda Barker; Betty Burgess.
Third row: Nita Henderson; Enid Villaume; Jean Newlyn; Norma Woods; Peggy Heaton; Joyce George; Thelma Rixon; Moira Botterell.
Front row: Peter McGregor; John Byrne; Neil Botterell; Colin Botterell; Pat Walker; Jim Neilsen; Ray Laing; Ray Kennedy.

Kevin Wilks compared today with those in Pambula during the Depression:
"I live in a beach suburb in Sydney...and you never see a really unpleasant looking person, every young person now is so well fed but when you look at these people, you can see what I thought I could remember, some of these faces. A lot of these kids, they wouldn't starve in so far as they'd had nothing in their bellies, but they would have had bread and dripping, just bread and dripping and nothing else, they didn't know about vitamins and minerals in those days."

Betty Whelan (nee Martin) recalled the poverty of those days:
"There wasn't many people that really could have afforded uniforms, there were a lot of poor people around here at that time. We were still getting over the Depression. There were quite a few that didn't have shoes. Shoes were more or less a luxury, a lot of things were luxury in my time at school, and as I said, there were a lot of poor people in the district."

Frank ("Chummie") Robinson recalled:
"Most children wore shoes or sand shoes, but quite a few were in bare feet. Shoes were often hand me downs and home made repairs, such as rubber soles glued on."

Keith Hart also commented:
“As far as uniforms were concerned, our mother always kept us clean and neat and tidy and of course during the Depression days, I remember having to patch my shorts, especially where I sat down because I'm still a fellow that fidgets a lot. She used to do it in such a way that it didn't show. So I can say that we were kept warm in the winter and nice and cool and clean in the summer time and it was sufficient to cover our nakedness, let us put it that way."

The Depression added importance to children working on the family farm, a tradition continued from the early years. Jean King, who taught at Pambula between 1933 and 1937, said:
"One little fellow, I remember, came late, as he had a long way to walk after helping to milk the cows. Sometimes he fell asleep."

The Pambula P and C Association was, by this time, funding Godfrey's Motors Ltd to transport local children to Bega High School.

Many pupils had to rely on horses, push bikes or their legs to get them to and from school. Terry Dowling remembered:
"A lot of poor bloody kids had to ride horses three or four miles...there was a paddock for the horses, no chaff or oats though, only the palings to eat..."

Betty Whelan (nee Martin) recalled her mode of transport:
"We walked to school, shanks pony...we used to meet up, you know, start off, perhaps Joyce and I and then you'd pick up on the way along the traps, pick up all your friends and walk to school together."

Frank Robinson remembered:
"Town kids walked, some country kids rode horses and a few rode push bikes. I walked and very often, almost every day, walked home for dinner which we always had in the middle of the day."

Some South Pambula students were lucky enough to be able to catch a ride, as Keith Hart recalled:
"When we didn't walk to school, we used to be able to hitch a ride with the mail bus. Balmain Brothers were the first ones that I can remember and then they gave it away, and then there was Robinson's and then, of course, we still see the buses of Edwards' coming along, old Dick Edwards, he was a great old chap. In the Roan Horse Inn, that was the Post Office for South Pambula and the mail bus used to have to pull up there, so we kids used to get down there and sit on the bank and wait till the bus pulled up...and we used to pile in and we'd get a ride over town, so we'd only walk from the Post Office up to the school."

In December 1935 it was announced that William Haines was being transferred to Minto East Public School, after almost 13 years residence in Pambula. He was replaced by Mr Wilks, a teacher who quickly gained the respect of both pupils and local residents alike.

Mr and Mrs Alan Wilks.

Betty Whelan (nee Martin) remembers Mr Wilks:
" Mr Wilks was my favourite teacher, maybe because he took an interest... helped me more than any of the other ones that I'd had. To me he was a kind person...I got on well with him...Of course I was no shining light but I didn't have any problems learning."

Kevin Wilks also remembered his father extending his teaching skills beyond the classroom and out into the wider community:
" Eric Coorey at that stage was running a remarkably successful business in Pambula, and it turned out that Eric was absolutely illiterate, and my father being a school teacher, coached him privately at night so that he could read and write. He was already a successful businessman, but he couldn't read and write."

The P and C continued to work hard for their school, holding socials, card nights and Cinderella dances, among other things, to raise funds. They also carried out practical work such as levelling the school tennis court; and purchased a wide range of equipment which included a piano in 1936. Of this, the Pambula Voice reported:
" On Friday night Mr and Mrs Wilks made their home available for a house party in aid of the funds and the function netted £8/2/-. There was an excellent attendance, about 100 persons being present, and a thoroughly happy evening resulted. A card tournament attracted 24 players and the winners were Mrs Bottrell, Messrs Eric Tisdale and Jock Christiansen (who divided the men's prize). Mr Ron Ford won a jumble-town competition and the prize for estimating the evening's takings was won by Mrs Martin on a draw with Mr Jack Spears, both having guessed the exact amount. Dancing and singing were indulged in heartily and several business men, lustily endeavouring to out do each other in their rendition of "Three Blind Mice" did much to enliven the proceedings."

Gwen Marshall (nee Wilks) recalled these functions, commenting:
"I seem to remember fundraising 'House Parties' at the residence, when the parents went in and gambled and the kids played in the playground."

It was also through the P and C Association that the school undertook an immunisation program in 1936, when they applied to the Imlay Shire Council for a diphtheria immunisation program. In August that year about 70 children were inoculated by Dr Jones under the scheme.

As far as lobbying for the needs of the school, the P and C proved themselves invaluable. In 1936, representatives met with the local member, Mr W. W. Hedges, to urge the substitution of dual desks for the older type still in use at the school. Finally, this was approved in 1937.

In 1938, the organisation also attempted to lobby for a subsidy to assist to cover the cost of transporting 17 students from the South Pambula area, stating that some of the smaller children had to walk two miles and more by way of a dusty and dangerous highway. The Department, however, replied that, based on regulations that children under 11 had to reside over two miles away, and those over 11 more than three miles from the school, only six were eligible for such subsidy.

The P and C Association suffered a minor set back in 1936 with the resignation of secretary Mr Sid Ford, who had proven himself to be a valuable worker over years of involvement with the organisation.

School concerts remained a big attraction to both the students and the general public of the district. Betty Whelan fondly remembers these events:
"We used to have a concert every year at the school...and I was chosen to sing the different things in the different plays, 'In Your Green Hat'. It was held in the School of Arts, and, oh, it was great to go down to the hall and practice, that was a real big thing to go down there and practice for the concert, get out on stage and giggle when you shouldn't be giggling, it was quite exciting...Mr Wilks always seemed to put on a good concert and he was a very good pianist."

Pambula Public School, 1935, upper division.
Back row: Colin Hart; Lance Godfrey; Gordon Schafer; Bob Villaume; Bill Walker; Ken Brerton.
Second row: Winnie Newlyn; Joan Villaume; Lesley Cole; Bill Haines (teacher); Joyce Martin; Margaret Hart; Lily Walker; Freda Barker.
Third row: Noreen Byrne; Gwen Cole; Nancy Hellings; Rita Martin; Ethel Spears; Beatie Morris; Betty Martin; Betty Burgess.
Front row: Frank Robinson; Lloyd Furnell; Ray Martin.

In 1938 preparations were made to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove. This event, which required co-operation between many of the local schools and P and C Associations throughout the entire Imlay Shire area, involved a sports and tableau at Eden on March 18. The Director of Education authorised the headmasters of the schools involved, including Pambula, to close their schools for the day.

Secondary classes were placed on the agenda for Pambula School in 1938. Prior to this, students had either travelled to Bega High School or remained at Pambula until they reached the minimum leaving age. The move to provide secondary classes at Pambula was initiated by the nearby Eden Advancement Association, which wrote:
"As we are desirous of obtaining facilities for the secondary education of the pupils of the whole of this district, we have approached the Department of Education, with a view of having definite secondary courses established at Pambula Public School which is not only the geographic centre of the district but is the most economical centre for transport as the pupils from the southern section of this district could be served by mail car as a comparatively low conveyance rate."

The Pambula Voice reported on the matter by stating:
"Pambula School – Excellent prospects for Super-Primary Classes – There is every indication that before long Pambula Public school will be made the district centre for Super-Primary Classes. Every school in the district appears to have pupils who, while eligible for higher classes, are unable because of expense and other reasons to go to Bega and unless some provision is made for them here they must remain at an educational stand-still. Eden P and C Association, which is keenly interested in the matter, recently circularised district school teachers and P and C Associations asking for co-operation in the establishment of the classes at Pambula School and the reports so far to hand are most encouraging. Pambula P and C decided at Tuesday night’s meeting to give its hearty co-operation and it was stated that with the support in view from Eden and the schools at this end there should be at least 25 pupils for a start in the Super-Primary classes. Departmental subsidy will of course be a considerable assistance in the matter of transportation."

However, despite the fact that it was announced in July that the additional expense involved for staff and accommodation would not be justified for the relatively small number of pupils and that the proposal would therefore not go ahead, the local community was not willing to give up on this issue. Prospective students from Towamba, Wyndham, Bald Hills and Millingandi were added to those upon which the initial case was based, but again the decision was negative. Not to be defeated, a deputation then met with local member, Mr Hedges, MLA, in 1939. Consisting of Messrs Wilks (headmaster), T. Carter (for Bald Hills residents) and W. J. Gordon and E. Phillipps (P and C Association), the deputation pointed out that although more than the required numbers of pupils were available and the Department had been provided with all the facts, the Minister had several times turned down the request.

In 1939 the Pambula District School's Annual Athletic Association, commonly known as PDSAAA, was formed. Representatives from Pambula, Merimbula, Wolumla, Rocky Hall, Greig's Flat, Eden, Lochiel and Millingandi schools met in May that year at the Pambula School of Arts hall, where they unanimously decided to join forces for a combined school sporting event on Eight Hour Day, Monday, October 2 that year.

Although delegates from Nethercote, Wyndham, Burragate, Towamba and Kiah school did not attend that initial meeting, all promised their support. Invitations were also extended to both South Wolumla and St. Joseph's schools to join in the event.

The inaugural officers of the association's management committee comprised of Sid Ford (President), Messrs A. W. Tonge and A. F. Wilks (Vice Presidents), Lance Perry (Treasurer), Eustace Phillipps (Secretary), I. McInnes (Assistant Sectretary), E. Coorey, C. Brassington, J. Robertson, D. Boland, W. T. Henderson and R. M. Hart.

An article headed "Plans for Great Gathering of District Schools at Pambula" appeared in the Pambula Voice following the meeting, and outlining plans in very spirited terms. The District Teachers Federation drew up a draft program in June and this was adopted and distributed to the various schools involved the same month. The Pambula Voice commented:
"The enthusiasm in evidence practically assured success for the sports, even at this early date."

Local businesses supported the event wholeheartedly, with donations including a trophy of ten shillings six pence from James Robertson, Commercial Hotel publican, for the best schools marching in procession, whilst Association President, Sid Ford, gave a cup for competition amongst the schools.

The development of a special point score system meant that smaller schools, which actually made up the greater part of the competition, stood an equal chance with the larger institutions to take home the cup.

Betty Whelan (nee Martin) was in her last two years at school at Pambula when the PDSAAA was formed, and she recalls:
"I carried the flag, the two years I was in it, because I was taller than the other girls, and we borrowed, you know the thing you put the flag in, the surf club's, because Dad was in the Surf Club, and we borrowed that for me to put the flag in."

She added:
"...we had a great tunnel ball team, we blitzed in the sports, we had a really good team, tunnel ball, under and over, and over head. There was Pat Clarke, Lilly Walker, Betty Burgess, Margaret Hart, my sister Joyce, and myself. Other events were foot races, high jumps, hop, step and jump, relay races and long distance races."

For the first two years of the competition, 1939 and 1940, the carnival took place at what is now known as Jack Martin Park, Pambula, after which the various schools took turns to host the event.

The 1930's ended on another sour note, with the outbreak, in 1939, of what became known as the Second World War. Apart from the departure of local men to serve in the armed forces, it initially had little impact on the local district although the situation was not to remain like that.


The war hits home, 1940 - 1949:

The entry of Japan into the war changed many things for residents of the local district. Whereas World War 1 had little direct impact on people at home, World War II was a different matter altogether.

Blackouts became a part of life, with windows covered with heavy blinds and lights shaded to subdue glare. Rationing was introduced on butter, meat, sugar and tea, as well as clothing and petrol, and with enemy activity off the coastline, locals became aware of the war as it inched closer to their doorstep.

Kevin Wilks recalls the problems with the town's air raid siren during the war:
"...there was an electricity power station which ran from sunset to ten o'clock at night… and when I was studying, which I was studying quite hard at the time, when the movies started up at the theatre of a Saturday night the lights went so dim I couldn't study any further, I had to work by candle. It was really an ancient system. But the worst feature of it was that our air raid siren was an exhaust whistle in the diesel generator and so before you could warn anyone we were going to be bombed flat… it was a ten minute operation in those days...What you had to do was first of all start a petrol engine and that took some starting then when that got up to speed that could start driving the diesel, thump, thump, thump...boom, boom and you know this was a ten minute exercise, so if the Japs were coming in, it was far too late, so we were allowed to be bombed between sunset and 10 p.m. any night..."

Pambula Public School, 1943.

Preparations for the possibility of enemy invasion began, and one such plan was the evacuation of local children to beyond the mountains. Local woman, Sibyl Torpey, was apparently selected to transport the children to their destination, and many still recall having to have their little bag with necessities ready to go in a flash.

Alma Baddeley remembered this, stating:
"Sibyl Torpey was one of the drivers they had picked out, and all the kids, all the names of the kids and everything and they definitely would have taken them up the mountains."

An air raid trench became a permanent fixture in the playground at the Pambula school, as Elaine Brennan remembered:
"During the war we had constant air-raid practice, scrambling into slit trenches that had been dug just inside the side gate."

When the American liberty ship William Dawes was sunk off the coast by a submarine, the injured seamen were treated at the Pambula District Hospital. One of these men, Bill Minton, was accommodated by the head teacher, Mr Wilks, and his family at the residence at the school. Kevin Wilks, one of his sons, recalls:
"...I was at my last year at Bega and my sister Gwen and my mother looked after these sailors while they were here, you know, went to the hospital and cared for them, took them out and organised things for them…As we went to school that morning, the school bus used to leave about quarter past seven from Pambula for nine o'clock school in Bega and pick up people along the way and we stopped at Merimbula and it was July, 24th July 1942, a clear blue sky, you know one of those winter days you can have down here with not a cloud in the sky and as we came into Merimbula you could see this huge pall of smoke out off the point, not quite out to the horizon and as we went up the hill we could see it even more, it was a ship on fire out there and we recognised something was wrong. We had to go to school, it was final year and so on which was important to me that the school went on. When we got home we found all these sailors were ensconced in Pambula Hospital, and my mother and my sister up there looking after them. There was no dinner on the table..."

Life went on, however, despite the hardships brought about by the war, and annual events such as the PDSAAA sports and Empire Day continued to be held yearly.

Pambula Public School March Past team in Quondola Street, 1944.

In 1944 there was a classification change when Pambula became a Central School, something that remained until the end of 1949.

The P and C Association also continued to be active, and held events such as the Cinderella dance held in the School of Arts in 1945, with music provided by Hart's Orchestra.

When war finally ended, the entire district celebrated, much as they had in 1918, holding a street parade and dance, whilst events such as the Jockey Club's annual race meeting was renamed the Victory Cup in recognition.

VP Day celebration parade at the bottom of Quondola Street, Pambula, 1945.

Mr Wilks and his family departed from the district in 1946 with the Magnet - Voice newspaper stating in December that year:
" Mr and Mrs Wilks will be sorely missed, as they have been excellent workers for the town and district."

It was decided to hold an official social evening to farewell the head teacher and his family, taking place in the School of Arts in January 1946. The Magnet - Voice again reported on the function, stating:
"On Tuesday night in last week Pambula Hall was the centre of a very successful social evening, the occasion being a farewell to Mr and Mrs A. F. Wilks and family on the eve of their departure from Pambula to their new home at Exeter. A very large crowd gathered, including visitors from all the surrounding centres including Bega…Mr Woods, in opening proceedings, spoke of the sterling work done by Mr Wilks as headmaster at the Pambula Public School during his sojourn of ten years at Pambula, culminating in his success of having 5/6 percentage pass in intermediate classes the first year they were held in Pambula. As public citizens, Mr and Mrs Wilks had taken a very keen interest in all civic matters, being a tower of strength towards the success of the various organisations in which they were actively engaged...Mr S. W. Ford, as President of the Pambula and District Patriotic Movement, gave a glowing address of the work Mr Wilks had done for this organisation. Mr Wilks had held the position of honorary secretary of the committee ever since the inception some six years ago…Mr Woods, on behalf of the citizens of Pambula and friends of family, then presented Mr Wilks with a handsome set of stainless cutlery as an appreciation for all they had done for the district and a token of esteem and respect that they were held in…”

Mr Wilks was replaced by Mr Cox, who remained in the district only about eighteen months before he was transferred to Bombala.

Pambula School, infants class, 1949.
Back row: Douglas Porteous; Michael Parkin; Brian Kelly; Cecil Gill; John Carter; Albert Severs; Kevin Love.
Centre row: Alan Gill; Heather Radford; Barbara Kelly; Jeanette Brereton; Velda Perry; Keith Smith.
Front row: Mavis Radford; Loretta Whitby; Kay Henderson; Elva Henderson; Pam Thistleton; June Rixon; Isabelle Severs.

During his stay, he and many local residents from both Pambula and nearby districts worked towards the idea of consolidating all local schools into one district facility, but this was something that was not to be achieved for quite some time yet.

At his farewell, Mr R. M. Hart, chairman, said:
" Mr Cox had worked hard with the idea of creating an area school in the district, which would further the education of the country children a lot and hoped the foundation laid so far would bear fruit in the future."

The departure of Mr Cox brought Mr Vic Parkin to the district, where he remained for almost ten years.

Improved transportation enabled students to travel away for sports and by the late 1940’s Pambula students had also started competing against other local schools in what were termed inter-school sports. During 1949, they competed against other institutions such as Eden and Wyndham, playing games such as cricket, tennis, basketball and football.

Pambula Public School, middle class, 1949.
Back row: Teddy Metcalf; Terrence Kelly; Peter Lennox; Brian McDonald; Alan Radford; Bruce Carter.
Centre row: Gregory Whitby; Gordon Radford; Tommy Bradford; Billy Ainsworth; Kevin Cole; Max Love; Cecil Carter.
Front row: Barbara Smith; Janice Haigh; Lynette Best; Beverly Robinson; Maureen Kelly.

Pambula school, senior class, 1949.
Back row: Alan McLaughlin; Neville Robinson; Frank Kirk; Dennis Hart; Jimmy Laing; Ron Radford; Vic Parkin (teacher).
Centre row: Alan Gordon; Bill Gordon; Billy Whitby; Bruce Love; Tony Ainsworth; Barry McDonald.
Front row: Jacqueline Whitby; Beryl Clark; Noleen Smith; Alma Metcalf; Dawn Brereton.

P and C fund-raising remained an important activity within the community throughout the 1940’s, with a variety of functions held to raise money for the school. In 1949 the organisation held a Back to Childhood ball, during which Messrs Ron Ford and Vic Parkin arranged a humorous stage act, teeing up a mock radio station, called Radio B2C. The same year, a social evening was held in the home of Mr and Mrs J. Medcalf, during which billiard competitions were won by Roy Beasley and “Chicka” Walker, whilst Mrs W. Henderson Jnr and Mrs H. White were successful in the euchre tournament.


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