Our History | School opens 150 years ago in Murrumbateman

Next month marks a significant anniversary for Murrumbateman. It was on July 1, 1869 that the first government school began in Murrrumbateman according to the NSW Government State Archives and Records.

It seemed a minimum of 15 students was needed to establish a provisional school. Its classification changed in 1872, when the school became Murrumbateman Public School.

SCHOOL PHOTO DAY: Students and teacher in front of Murrumbateman School 1895. Photo: National Library of Australia.

SCHOOL PHOTO DAY: Students and teacher in front of Murrumbateman School 1895. Photo: National Library of Australia.

The community raised most of the funds needed to build the school.

Students and two teachers outside Murrumbateman School c. 1910. Photo: National Library of Australia.

Students and two teachers outside Murrumbateman School c. 1910. Photo: National Library of Australia.

The building was a single classroom built with wooden slabs and a bark roof. Its attached room provided accommodation for the teacher.

It was replaced in 1872 with a more substantial brick building with a brick fireplace for heating and a shingle roof.

The original schoolhouse became the teacher's residence.

By 1875, a three roomed brick building was built for the teacher's residence with the old slab building being converted into a detached kitchen.

ORIGINAL BUILDING: Murrumbateman School derelict c.1994 prior to restoration. Photo: Courtesy Maureen Collins

ORIGINAL BUILDING: Murrumbateman School derelict c.1994 prior to restoration. Photo: Courtesy Maureen Collins

The Yass Evening Tribune reported on June 17, 1907 from Government Gazettes that the school inspector had described the school grounds as beautifully kept with 60 shade trees, bright garden borders and rabbit proof student gardens.

The school grounds were beautifully kept with 60 shade trees, bright garden borders and rabbit proof student gardens.

Also that the library was one of the best in the district and was also used by parents.

Tennis and cricket were played in competition with other local schools, and "deep nasal breathing is practised in the open air every fine morning."

Many reports from school inspectors and many school pupil registers are kept in the Yass & District Historical Society Archives.

Murrumbateman School buildings constructed c.1870s now used as the library. Photo: Courtesy Maureen Collins 2008

Murrumbateman School buildings constructed c.1870s now used as the library. Photo: Courtesy Maureen Collins 2008

Newspaper reports over the years reflect the importance of the school to its local community, reporting school picnics, Christmas parties, concerts, and so on as well as its use for community activities.

The Yass Courier April 24, 1911 reported on a meeting of the Literary and Debating Society held there.

Old Murrumbateman school bell. Photo: Courtesy Maureen Collins 2008.

Old Murrumbateman school bell. Photo: Courtesy Maureen Collins 2008.

The brick building built in 1872 was used as a schoolroom continuously until 1954, when a new modern weatherboard building was constructed elsewhere on the grounds.

Murrumbateman School closed in 1973, ending more than a 100 years of public education in Murrumbateman.

Later, the building was reinvented to serve the community as its local library.

Old Murrumbateman School plaque details. Courtesy Maureen Collins 2008.

Old Murrumbateman School plaque details. Courtesy Maureen Collins 2008.

But in June 2018, Yass Tribune reported that after 10 years of lobbying, funding to begin planning for a new primary school for Murrumbateman would be included in the NSW 2018-19 Budget.

Perhaps we may soon see the beginning of a new chapter in public education in Murrumbateman.

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