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Compiled for Darebin Heritage by Brian Membrey

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School 824 : Centenary 1964?


Although I can't recall the month and thus whether it corresponded accurately to the precise opening, I thought South Preston No. 824 had a centenary celebration in 1964.

Why do I think 1964 when virtually all the history points to the foundation year of 1866?  I recall following the re-union going to the Gowerville pub with an ex-classmate who was a couple of years older - I was under 18 and thus my companion had to front the bar for the beers. Or was the legal drinking age then 21 and the year really 1966 after all????).

It was mooted at the time as the second-oldest functioning State School in Victoria, the oldest in Kangaroo Ground which closed a few years later.  Recent enquiries of the Education Department suggest that this is not the case - at least in suburban Melbourne where Heidelberg and Williamstown are older, as are a number of country schools - South Preston probably sits around number 10).

I would was in the last year of my Diploma of Commerce at Preston Technical College and remember looking forward immensely to the celebration as a reunion of former classmates who had lost contact with each other.   (There were a couple of other old SP pupils in the same year at PTC, but not doing Commerce which was located away from the main campus in an old house between the Girl’s Tech and the Margaret Walker Playground on the corner of Cramer and Jessie Streets).

As it turned out, it was a major disappointment - I seem to remember that the turnout overall was not particularly large, and only two classmates fronted up.

One of these was Shirley Spry who was no surprise as she lived within a few yards of the school on the corner of Young and Collier streets and who I often saw in the streets anyway given we lived around 100 yards apart.  The other was a real surprise in Les Wawn.

Les was two or three years older than me because he had been kept back to repeat a couple of years, primarily because of a propensity to "wag" school on a regular basis and to create a certain amount of mischief on the days he did attend. We spent probably an hour together before he suggested we adjourn to the more welcoming climes of the public bar at the Gowerville Hotel where he bought me my first (but not last) four beers.

I realise now the other disappointing aspect of the day is that the event would probably have been covered at some length by the-then Preston Post, quite possibly with additional historical background, but whether a copy survives is unlikely in the extreme.

The original Northcote and Preston Leader newspapers started in 1888 and although they were identical except for the masthead, both were supplied to the State Library of Victoria up until late 1939 and were subsequently microfilmed (the 1914-18 editions are part of the Trove collection, but again are identical).

The Darebin Heritage site has copies on-line up to the end of 1939 and the Northcote Leader henceforth, but the two papers b then were very localised and if only the Northcote version has been archived, then another part of Preston’s local history may have been lost..