Pittwater Life March 2018 Issue


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Times Past

Early days

of Newport

Public School

Some 130 years ago

Newport Public School

began as the Mona Vale

Provisional School. Although

an application for a school had

been made back in 1887, it was

declined. However, on Monday

April 30, 1888, the school

began in a tent – with water

for the students having to be

retrieved from a well nearby

and carried back in buckets.

A fascinating excerpt from

the Sydney Mail and New

South Wales Advertiser recounts

a journey from Manly

to Newport in June 1890:

‘… we arrive at the top of

the cliffs, where we make a

detour round Bushranger’s

hill, on a very picturesque

road, and leave at right angles

the main Barrenjoey road, to

a short run to our destination.

A very interesting sight

here for townspeople is the

Public school, as sketched,

a kind of building which is

rarely seen except up country.

Here, under canvas, the Public

school teacher instructs the

young hopefuls in the mysteries

of arithmetic, elementary

physiology, etc. A reading lesson

on the latter subject was

being conducted at the time

of our visit, and very

appropriate too.’

Miss Elizabeth

Giles (formally Lizzie

Noble Giles) was the

first teacher and only

23 years old at the

time. She had commenced

her career

on April 29, 1881 as a

pupil teacher at Christ

Church C of E Infants.

In 1971, when Mr R.

M. Bowie wrote a his-

tory of the school, a ‘tattered

register’ was still

in existence. It listed the

first enrolments – the

two Scott children – as

the first male and the

first female registered.

Also enrolled were two

members of the Boulton

family and 11 members

of the Bulfin family, ranging

from 14-year-old twins down

to young Lillie Bufin at 2

years and 6 months.

After the new Telegraph

Office at Newport was opened

in December 1888, the party

of guests adjourned to Bulfin

‘s Newport Hotel. After dinner

Christmas prizes were presented

to some ‘students of

Newport public school, which

has been open for about six

months, and is under the

supervision of Miss Giles’.

Some residents contributed

to prizes, one a watch

given to ‘the most efficient

pupil’. Misses Bulfin and Scott

presented Miss Giles with a

gold bracelet and a ‘smelling


In June 1910, Mrs Hogue,

wife of the then Minister for

Education, visited Newport

The school building was erected

in 1890 but demolished in 1968;

a class photo from 1925 showing

champion sculler Neville Fox

(second from left in front row)

and Roly Jeffrey (middle of middle

row), an early builder who

grew up in Newport.

Public School to unfurl a flag

which had been received

from Newport on the Isle of

Wight. The flag was a ‘Union

Jack of large dimensions,

beautifully worked in silk

and bearing the Newport

arms in its centre’. It was

received in return for a

flag previously sent

some months earlier. Three

cheers were given for

the flag and pupils from

Mona Vale and Narrabeen

schools joined in to sing a

number of patriotic songs.

TIMES PAST is supplied

by local historian

and President of the

Avalon Beach Historical


Visit the Society’s

showroom in Bowling

Green Lane, Avalon


Times Past

The Local Voice Since 1991

MARCH 2018 71

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