Detailed history of the school 1915 – 1982.
From a report compiled by Research Officer, Olga Marian, History Section, Education Department 1982
Parent initiative has played a key role in the development of Beaumaris Primary School, beginning form its very first days. In 1914 a local parent wrote to a Member of Parliament requesting a school that would service the families living near the Beaumaris beach. He wrote on behalf of the 18-20 children who were being deprived of an early education because they were too young to walk three miles to and from State School No.84 on Charman Road, near the Cheltenham Railway Station.
The District Inspector recommended that a full-time school be constructed of brick on the foreshore, but this was wartime and nothing happened. The Member of Parliament who had backed the proposal urged the Education Department to use the Beaumaris Hall in Tramway Parade till a building was erected. The Department’s answer was not encouraging: “The hall is not suitable, it is big enough to hold several hundreds. The older children can walk to Cheltenham as they have been doing. The younger children can wait.”
Not content with this answer, parents continued the pressure. Finally it was agreed that the hall should be rented for ten shillings a week. On 1st May 1915, Miss Addie Fairlam, the school’s first teacher, commenced classes with an enrolment of 26 children. Classes were conducted in a room behind the stage. It measured 12ft by 40ft. The hall located in Tramway Parade, between Bodley and Martin Streets fell into disrepair and was dismantled in 1941 with the bricks being used in some local houses.
However there was constant pressure on the Education Department to establish a permanent school. Nine sites were proposed, and in 1916 three acres were purchased for $400. This is part of the present site in Dalgetty Road.
A classroom measuring 30ft by 20ft and costing $225 was built on the site. The official description is illuminating: “The school building is a pavilion type, of timer on high stumps with no windows. Three of the walls are boarded to the height of 3ft and above that height, right to the roof line, are fitted stout canvas navy blinds which are adjustable and can be opened to any height in bays. The back wall is boarded from floor to ceiling (it has hyloplate board used as a blackboard)”.
The new building was opened on 24 April, 1917 by the Head Teacher, Mr T Ferguson, who had taken over from Miss Fairlam on 19 August 1915 after she became ill.
Although a permanent site must have been an improvement, conditions were far from luxurious. The Head Teacher called the building… “disgraceful….riddled with holes for wind, sand, or thieves to enter. The canvas screens are rotten and torn. The foundations are being undermined by the wind. The apology for the cloak room is an absolute disgrace for it is neither sanitary nor convenient.”
By 1927 the school enrolment was 62, and the district population was increasing because the tramway had been extended from Black Rock to Beaumaris. Parents requested a brick building and a new school building costing$1,831,12.11 was completed in 1929. This red brick building originally comprising two classrooms and attendant offices still stands at the Dalgetty Road site today.
At the end of the Second Work War, attendance reached 70 and the Parent’s Committee renewed its activities with vigour. A Recreation Room Fund was started. In 1947 an old Arm Hut, 80ft by 23ft was purchased at a cost of $237. The Education Department paid $120 of this price and the parent collected the rest. The hut was moved to the school and parents working bees completed the new recreation hall in 1948.
The Mothers’ Club proudly held the first dance in the new hall in December 1948 as a fund raising activity. From then on the hall was let for community functions and it was even more in demand after a kitchen was added in 1950. It was used regularly for Sunday School, dances, card parties and various activities of several local clubs. Profits made from its use funded a great many improvements to the hall.
The local community was still growing and enrolments at the school rose sharply. In 1950 the Education Department bought another three acres of land fronting Emily Street and Dalgetty Road and additional classrooms were built. Local people took a strong interest in their expanding community and a Parents’ and Citizens’ Association was formed which too root form the School Committee and Mothers’ Club.
By 1954 the Chief Inspector was able to report” “The school is situated in an area of dense scrub and trees and has an attendance of 322 pupils.”
This bush environment disappeared little by little as the school expanded. In 1962 residents of Dalgetty Road and Emily Street signed a petition complaining of excessive dust being blown off the school site. The high part of the school ground was resurfaced with fine crushed rock.
By the 1950s, the school was bursting at the seams, with the Recreation Hall being used as a temporary classroom. A pre-fabricated building was assembled in 1953, but still there was insufficient accommodation for the fast growing school population. In 1956 three additional classrooms were erected and the R.S.L. Hall was also rented for ten shillings a week. Four more classrooms were added in 1957 to cope with an enrolment of 723 and a new toilet block was also erected.
In February 1959 a new school was built on Reserve Road, Beaumaris North Primary School with an enrolment of 300 children and from that time Beaumaris families had the choice of two primary schools.
In 1960 the Old Army Hut, which had served not only the school, but the local community for 16 years, was replaced by two classrooms. No doubt there was a feeling of both relief and nostalgia when this veteran building was finally demolished in 1966.
Enrolment reached 940 in February 1966 and so by 1968 the school had a Library, Canteen, Arts and Crafts Room and a Multi-Purpose Room. Enrolments reached their peak in 1968: 981 pupils, 23 permanent classrooms and 2 temporary pre-fabricated classrooms. After that there was a gradual decrease and in 1984 the school had an enrolment of 421, staff of 21, 16 classrooms, 2 resource rooms and T.V. Room.