Thursday, 4 April 2019

The Opening of the Devon Meadows State School March 30, 1916

The South Bourke and Mornington Journal of April 13, 1916 reported on the opening of the Devon Meadows State School on March 30, 1916. It's an interesting account and also tells us a little something of the history of the area, some farming advice and the names of some early settlers. You can read the article, here, on Trove and it is transcribed, below. Sadly, I do not have a historic photo of the school.

Devon Meadows State School.
The Opening Ceremony.

Some two years ago when an area of land, comprising about 1200 acres, and now known as Devon Meadows, was subdivided by Mr Cox and placed in the hands of Messrs Birtchnell Bros. and Porter in order that the land could be disposed of in small holdings (which has already been accomplished to a very great extent), it could hardly have been expected that at the present day the locality would have an up-to-date State school building, although of small dimensions but such is the case, and all credit to the people who assisted in the movement and thus secured educational advantages for the children in the locality. The school is situate half way between the Hastings road and Fisheries road, on Worthing road, and occupies a most commanding position. The site is comprised in a six acre block, reserved for public purposes. 

The building is of neat and attractive design, and the interior is fitted up in modern fashion, with dual desks, lunch cupboard, blackboards, book cupboard, and is well ventilated, the outlay being £400. A substantial fence has been erected, enclosing the school and about an acre of the reserve. There is convincing evidence to show that the school and consequent expenditure was justified, for there are already 34 names on the roll, although seating accommodation has been provided for 32 only. Miss Bury is in charge of the school, and members of the committee are Messrs Huckson, Peterson, L. McDonald, Young, Ryland and Alphey.

The official opening was fixed for the 30th ult., and arrangements were made accordingly by the committee, who were ably assisted by the parents, the mothers having a busy time preparing tempting
eatables, of which there was an abundance on the afternoon of the date mentioned, when there was a representative gathering present. The refreshments were enjoyed by adults and the children, and a
pleasant half hour was spent in.a social manner.

Mr T. A. Twyford, who recently retired from the Education department, and was for many years head teacher at the Clyde school, was appropriately selected as chairman for the occasion. Having briefly
explained the purpose of the gathering, Mr Twyford called upon Mr L. A. Birtchnell to perform the opening ceremony.Mr Birtchnell said that it was hardly necessary to state how pleased he was to be present, but he regretted the absence of Mr Tate, who was in every way the proper man to declare the school open on behalf of the Education department. In the first place he had to make brief reference to the sad death of Mrs Newbury, who had been an energetic and respected resident, and to the bereaved family he desired to extend his heartfelt sympathy in their sad loss.

In regard to the school, some two years ago the parents were informed that the proposal to erect a school could not be entertained until there were 20 scholars, and there was even some opposition. However, leading residents had successfully worn down the various obetacles, and although it might be invidious to mention names, he felt that he should refer to the good work accomplished by Mr Ryland and Mr Twyford. The advantages of free education were apt to be overlooked, and he desired to point out that such should be fully availed of in the present day. He well knew the difficulties attached to pioneer settlement, and the help children were called upon to render their parents on the farm, but he hoped the fathers and mothers would do all in their power to enable their children to obtain the benefits resulting from education, for there was every reason to feel proud of the school as it stood to-day.

Even on the opening day the building was hardly sufficient, but as time went on extensions could be made. He could assure them that Mr Cox and Mr Horsful would have been delighted to be present if it were possible, both of whom had the welfare of the community at heart, and he wished to impress upon those present that if there was anything further required they had only to present themselves at the firm's office and the matter would receive careful consideration. Mr Birtchnell enjoined upon the children the necessity for attending school regularly, paying attention to their studies, respecting their parents and teacher, and thus grow up in such a way as to prove a credit to Devon Meadows and he hoped they would always look back with pleasant recollections to the day upon which the school was opened. 

He also wished to tell them that during the past few months he had (with his motor car) met 25 hospital ships with soldiers aboard, who had been fighting for them, and related a pathetic story concerning a returned soldier, who had been a ward of the State, whose first expressed wish upon landing was to go and visit the Sister who had cared for him in his childhood days. In conclusion, he desired to state that he intended offering two prizes for competition, to be awarded on points, to be won by the boy and girl gaining the highest number of marks, (Applause) Previous to formally declaring the school open, Mr Birtchnell also spoke in recognition of the good work accomplished by members of the progress association.

Mr Ryland, on behalf of the school committee, expressed his pleasure at being present at the opening of the school, and intimated that the sum of £7 5/ had been collected towards defraying expenses in
connection therewith. 

Mr Porter referred to the successful and well-organised work carried out by the ladies, and then spoke of the hard tasks successfully accomplished by the early pioneers, afterwards speaking in prophetic terms of the possibilities of Devon Meadows. After the war, said Mr Porter, thousands of people in Europe would undoubtedly decide to come to Australia, for it would never be forgotten how Australia had fought for the Empire. The people from overseas would be seeking land where there was a good rainfall, and possibly would pass 82 Swanston street and see the produce exhibited there, and later on visit Devon Meadows, where it had been grown. Eventually, Devon Meadows would have cool stores, and up-to-date shops, larger even than those at Cranbourne. 

The estate was adapted for growing strawberries, poultry raising, and pigs; would grow mangolds [a member of the beet family]  to perfection one block had produced 88 tons to the acre. He recommended lime and bonedust as the best manure to be used, which would last for seven years. In regard to potatoes, they were at a great advantage compared with Warnambool, where the freight was £1 per ton as against 3/. He advised them to consider the advisability of planting fruit trees in June for, although the prices were low now, they would improve later on. It would be well to form a society for the purpose of controlling prices and the supply, for organisation was required amongst farmers just as much as in other interests. To the boys and girls he said -help your fathers and mothers on the farm, working early and late, for every acre cleared meant prosperity. He hoped, in conclusion, to see them all again in December, when the prizes donated would be presented. (Applause.)

Advertisement in The Age of October 4, 1913 for the sale of the Devon Meadows Estate.

Mr Twyford said that, after listening to the glowing prophesy by Mr Porter, he felt that there was indeed very little left for him to say. He wished to thank them for the invitation he had received, and had to congratulate them upon the splendid school that had been opened that day, which was a credit to the Education department. All joined heartily in singing the National Anthem, after which sweets and fruits were handed to the children including a gift from Mr Birtchnell of "something special" in the lolly line for each scholar. The afternoon function was followed by evening tea, and later, an enjoyable dance was held, interspersed with solos, including an item rendered by the four juvenile Peterson's. A tempting supper was partaken of, and the efforts of Mr Twiss, of Dandenong, were highly appreciated in the catering department.

It is pleasing to state that a credit balance remains after expenses have been met, and it is intended to augment this fund, which will be devoted towards the erection of a shelter shed in the school grounds. The function was thoroughly enjoyed, and proved quite an event at Devon Meadows.

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