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Compiled for Darebin Heritage by Brian Membrey

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School 824 : Memories, The Grounds


My memory of how the school was laid out is below - I've mentally re-visited the memory bank several times and this is as close as it gets failing offers from the BBC for the free loan of Doctor Who's Tardus time machine.

After reviewing my attempt to reproduce something approximating the scale, perhaps the one image I have in the back of my mind from all those years ago is that the quadrangle between the two wings was somewhat wider, perhaps by 15 percent.

This implies that I might have either missed a classroom along Hotham Street or the front section is a little out of scale.   I suspect the latter - an additional room implies Grade 3 had three classes, and although much water has flowed under the bridge, that is not the way I remember it.

Most of the schematic corresponds with the associated M.M.B.W. map of 1928, although there was obviously one or two significant expansions after that time, especially the addition of the northern wing and the interconnection of the front and rear sections.

Much of Hotham Street has changed little - the terraces to the north were in pretty awful condition at the time, the single-story cream brick buildings to the south unchanged, as is the western side of the street, other than the "school shop" long having cease training and one or two of the older houses replaced with substantial modern residences.

The Tip, or course, has also long since gone and one wonders if in today's Health and Safety environment whether a garbage dump would even be remotely considered near a school.

Although not directly related to the school, the other significant change close by was that while wending home from the Prep school fairly early in 1952 and sneaking via a short cut along a lane at the back of the houses on the northern side of Young Street, a couple of us realised that the cows and horses had disappeared from Bransgrove's farm on the corner of Hotham and Bell Streets and a high wire fence was there instead, along with signs with big words like "Trespassers Prosecuted".

This was, of course, the proposed development of the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital, but other than the house (facing Hotham Street) and a few out-buildings being demolished, nothing else happened for three or four years because of funding problems.

(I think the fence may have later been removed, because the local communal Guy Fawkes Night bonfire was always at the eastern end of Bransgrove's land, roughly now where the Rydges-On-Bell guest's swimming pool is.  I remember a couple of these when I would have been seven or eight years old).

The Bransgrove family in residence at the time were, of course, the direct descendants of the George Bransgrove responsible for the original school in East Preston being relocated to Hotham Street in the early 1870s.


Abbreviations :

1A etc.    Classrooms: 1 to 6 obviously the grades, there were two or three for each, arbitrarily labelled A, B, C. but this does not suggest any difference in academic achievement.  Those underlined were the rooms I remember; other than 6C, the suffixes are irrelevant. I cannot recollect where my bum graced Grades 1 or 2.

Op This was the "Opportunity" classroom for those deemed requiring specialised tuition, generally about eight to ten pupils, hence a smaller room than others

HM Head Master's office

Legend :

A These were the gate and main entrance for staff and the public- woe betide any pupil caught using them!

B World War One Honour Board

C World War Two Honour Board

D This entrance was only used for assemblies, from recollection, about 10.30 Wednesday mornings. There was drummer stationed outside the Opportunity classroom who did his thing as we all marched back to one of the main entrances. The drums disappeared through the entrance into the storeroom.

E The dividing line between the girls and boys playing areas was a concrete gutter that ran slightly downhill into a drain just outside the toilet block.  It wasn't a capital offence to cross the line - it was just that the perception at the time that kids of that age didn't want to play together anyway.  From memory, the asphalted section of the boy's area didn't get much use and the bordering gravel section was sacrosanct for use for marble mazes.

F The library didn't exist when I finished Grade 6 in 1957, but was there for a Dux-of-school ceremony early the next year.  The horizontal aspect is accurate, but I'm not 100 percent certain of how far it extended back.

G This was the designated fifteen feet or so for "Wall Ball" and about as far as pupils were allowed on the Hotham street side.

H was the "base camp" for British Bulldog.  The boy's toilet had the cubicles against the school-side wall; I'm not admitting to knowledge of the girls, but I'm pretty sure that externally, they were rectangular and probably cubicles front and back.

I Both sets of shelter sheds were completely open on the western side, hardly a clever design most of the weather came from the north-west.



J This was the Young Street entrance. Along Young Street to the laneway was an open-mesh wire Cyclone fence about seven feet high; can't recall whether it was topped with barbed wire.

K The school bell, house in a wooden frame and standing about five feet above the ground.  The trees on either side of the school ground were English elm, almost certainly those shown to the right in the cover photograph.  No idea when they were removed, but some earlier research into the history of Preston oval (which has similar trees), suggests an average age of about eighty years, so regardless of changes to the school layout as a result of extensions, fires or otherwise, they may have been removed for safety reasons.  There were bushes across the Hotham Street boundary, but no trees.

L While everything else is pretty much in my mind (or the remnants thereof), I'm hazy on where the fence line between the houses in Young Street and the Tip was.  My initial thought in considering the diagram is that the housing blocks may not have been of that depth and there was a road into the tip an a stretch of vacant land in-between (i.e. where the tennis courts now are).

M Flagpole which we all saluted Monday mornings before we sang the National Anthem. Then "God Save The Queen" - an Australian anthem was then unheard of.

N Complete guesswork!   There must have been internal toilets for staff and probably a small kitchenette with stove for making tea, workbench, storage and small refrigerator.  I have zero recall of any toilets within the main building and assume that were only accessible from the staff room itself.  Having staff facilities that could be accessed by pupils would have been a first-class recipe for mischief unless they were kept locked!

O designates a pigeon loft behind one of the Builders Terraces. The houses in those days were pretty run-down and may have been lucky to survive, even although they are probably the oldest still standing in Preston.

"Hubble-Bubble, Toil and Trouble", the curdling cauldron for The Curse Of The Free Milk.