Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Windsor State School

After the opening in 1860 of the Bowen Bridge across Breakfast Creek, the near northern suburb of Windsor was able to develop. The first state school in the area was built in 1865 to a design by Charles Tiffin. It was known as the Bowen Bridge Road National School, and was situated on Bowen Bridge Rd in an area that is now a memorial park. This is a photograph from 1910 that shows the school - it was taken from the site of the Windsor Town Hall.The school was a simple wooden building with an adjoining headmaster's house.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #10145-0001-0001)

Of course the surrounding suburb kept growing, and attendance at the school kept increasing. A railway line connecting the area to Brisbane was opened in 1898, allowing for even more development. As a result, it became necessary to improve the school facilities. In 1916, a new school building was opened across the road from the original. It was called the Windsor State School, and the headmaster, Dr F Papi, marshalled the students across the road to the new premises. Here is a photograph of it from a 1921 publication, The Pocket Queensland.
(Photo: Queensland Government Intelligence and Tourist Bureau)

Newspaper reports indicate that the school originally opened with 816 pupils, and that by 1931 the number had increased to 1211. In the same year, nearby schools at Wooloowin and Wilston had enrolments of 1437 and 773 respectively, indicating that the population of these northern suburbs was rapidly increasing.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #121372)

During WWII, a portion of the school grounds was given up by the school to be used as a parts storage depot for US submarines. That portion of land was never returned to the school and is now the site of an office equipment warehouse. Here is a current photograph of the school. There is now a statue of a digger standing in front of the school buildings.
(Photo: © 2012 the foto fanatic)

Just by coincidence, I recently met a man named Stuart who was a pupil at the school during the years of WWII. His father was the district warden, and had air raid trenches dug to provide protection for the staff and students should it be required. Stuart remembers drills where they all had to practice evacuating the school to hide in those trenches. 

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  1. I always think I can pick a late Victorian or early 20th century primary school anywhere in Australia. Heavy block design, dark red bricks, small windows and straight central corridor. I loved school but golly it was ugly.

    The new (1916) school building for Windsor State School was actually refined and elegant. I don't know if children learn better in an attractive environment, but credit should go to the Education Dept for trying.

  2. Hi Hels - indeed! We have a few of these schools still operating. Construction of schools in Queensland reverted to timber (and asbestos!), probably for the cost benefits.

    My first primary school, Junction Park, was not too different from this one, and my recollection is that it was a lot cooler than the timber ones I attended later.

  3. I can confirm. As a student from 1972..1977.. there was a few times the Oval was taped off due to sunken holes that appeared periodically.


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