My family connection with the Wellington Point School began in 1913, when my Grandmother, Mrs. Skinner, became station mistress at Wellington Point, and her three children Letty (my mother) and her two brothers, Charlie and Jack, were enrolled. Some years later Letty married a local farmer, Jim Belford. They had seven children, of whom I was one, who also attended the school. I remained in the area, became a teacher, and married Ernie Tickner. We had four children, all of whom also attended the Wellington Point School, and when some of our grandchildren also attended – two of whom are still there – this made four generations of our family to have attended the Wellington Point School!
When I was a pupil at the school it was a three-teacher school. I remember the roads were all dirt and gravel, and in very poor condition. Then, as more people moved into the area, the roads were gradually improved and they began to be bitumened. We children always went barefoot – heaven forbid today! – and one of our favourite past-times on the way home from school was to burst the bitumen bubbles with our big toes, so that we would arrive home with our toes all blackened.
I started school in 1934 in the little old original school building. When the building of the new school – 4 rooms and an office–was underway, school was continued in the old A.H. & I. (Agricultural, Horticultural, and Industrial) Hall next door – all classes in together, blackboards along the Southern wall, and classes from year 1 to year 7 side by side. I would say it had to be the first and largest open area school ever.
The A.H. & I. Hall had many uses over the years. Not only was it a gymnasium, it was the venue for many other social occasions. It was a dance hall and fetes and garden parties were held there. It became a movie theatre – with canvas reclining seats the caretaker was an old identity called, Bill Hopp and if the young people became noisy, on would go the lights and he’d tell them off in no uncertain manner. The school had its fancy-dress ball there every year and we had our wedding reception there in 1952. I can’t tell you when it was shut down and removed but the Education Department bought it when the school was extended.
During World War II we had zigzag trenches dug in case of attack by the Japanese, and practiced regularly leaving our rooms in an orderly fashion to take shelter – fortunately they were not necessary. Incidentally, there was an American military camp right on the Point during the war.
We walked a mile to school along Starkey Street, and quickly learned that if we could be at the gate by a certain time, we would get a ride with the new infant’s teacher, Miss Nancy Atkins, in her cute little two-seater auto with a dickey seat. We felt very important, rolling up when we were lucky enough to catch her.
We had visits from the ‘Camel Man’, who would come to school from time to time, and we’d have rides from where the tennis courts were to where Pooley’s shop was, and back. Mr. Sam Martin came regularly to cut the boy’s hair under the school, and Eddie Edwards came weekly to teach the mouth organ – we marched in regularly to “Our Director March”, played by the mouth organ band. The school dentist had an annual visit using a foot treadle, which worried all of us – it was such a slow, noisy machine, and we waited in dread for our turn.
A highlight of each year was the fancy dress ball, and the grand parade was practiced until we could march through the whole parade without a mistake – all dressed up, and having tried so hard to keep secret what we were wearing.
Most of the children would arrive at school bare-footed. It was rather difficult playing hopscotch without shoes. Every morning we would have a school parade, where we would recite Our Ritual, and salute the flag. The Ritual went thus:
“I love this land which gave me birth,
And the great virtues of truth, justice
And freedom for which it stands.
I shall strive to be true to these ideals,
And shall try to be a credit to my family,
My school, and my country.”
I went to high school at Wynnum then the teachers’ training college at Kelvin Grove. I used to get the train then – a rail motor that we called “The Rattler”. Most of the steam trains went as far as Manly, and then we’d have to get the Rattler. At High School, I used to leave home at 7:20 in the morning and get back at 5:30. It made for a very long day. After graduating as a teacher, I taught all the middle grades (3 to 5) but I did go to a one-teacher school outside Gayndah where I had five grades.
After moving back to the Redlands, I taught at Thornlands for two years before I got married, then for six years at Wellington Point afterwards.
(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (now out of print)