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Compiled for Darebin Heritage by Brian Membrey

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School 824 : Memories, Where To Next?


So we've just finished our six pleasurable years at South Preston, but where do we go next?

With one or two exceptions, the minimum school leaving age was 14, although the Victorian Government two or three times had expressed a desire to lift the age to 15 or even 16, but were thwarted in so doing by a shortage of suitable teachers and classroom accommodation.

For most in my age group who started perhaps at an average of six, that meant a minimum of another two years schooling.

The options for boys were Preston Technical School or Northcote High, for girls Preston Girls High in Cooma Street or the recently-opened Preston Girl's Technical School in Cramer Street.

Students completing year six had to nominate their preferences accordingly, but depending on their academic results, there was no guarantee of being admitted to either school and a small number went instead to Helen Street in Northcote, known as an Advanced Primary School which continued general education to Grades 7 and 8, after which they could move to a secondary school (most having reached 14 years by then went into the work force instead).

Due to the typical overcrowding of the time, the first form for Preston Tech was held at a new school designed for primary education in Bell Street between Victoria Road and Albert Street (now the site of Harvey Norman).  [1]

From memory there were five classes, probably of about 30 students who took it in turns to spend one day per week on technical subjects at the campus proper in St. George's Road.

There was one exception to the rule of a minimum age of 14 and that was if the boy (predominantly) or girl had secured a registered apprenticeship - which had mandatory further general education as well as that in the relevant trade - with an employer.  The first roll call I remember in Bell Street produced a predictable series of responses of "Here, Sir" until the name of "Lock" was read out and after a few uncomfortable moments of silence, somebody mumbled "Um, he's got a job, sir".      

The standard ritual on the first day of attendance at the St. George's Road school was that one had one's head shoved down a toilet bowl by other boys while they pulled the chain. Apart from a wetting of the head, there was also a fifty-fifty chance that the maroon school cap which was nominally part of the new school uniform would finish up on the roof of the single story trades block. [2]


[1]  The school was at one time later was known as Gowerville Tech before it resorted to acting as a primary school - this may have been while it functioned as an adjunct to Preston Tech as there were certainly no workshops for technical work.  I think it acted in this role for a four or five years before a number of temporary classrooms were erected at the rear of the technical (southern) section of the St. George's Road campus.  Before they wrecked it with a school, the Gowerville site was predominantly swamp land  great place for collecting tadpoles!   "Lock" did not attend South Preston.


 [2[  The Tech. colours were maroon with blue and gold stripes on the v-neck and on the cuffs of the jumper and blazer, the latter with a PTS monogram on the breast pocket. The colours were almost certainly derived from the Fitzroy Football Club guernsey - the Preston Football Club wore a maroon top with navy blue "knicks" during its first stint in the Victorian Football Association from 1903 to 1911 before adopting red-and-white when it returned to junior ranks.  

There was no uniform at South Preston - it was matter of some debate at the time across Victoria on the merits of standard uniforms for State schools - one argument being that they eliminated "class" differences, the other obviously the cost to parents.  Given South Preston had a football team, I guess there must have been associated colours, but no recollection thereof.