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Bedellick [1878 - 1903]

The following 'brief history' of Bedellick school was written by Laurie Copping, retired Head of Hall Primary School, Curator of the Hall School Museum, on the occasion of the unveiling of the memorial cairn at the school site on 21 April 1991:

The first move towards the establishment of a school at Bedellick appears to have been an application for a grant of land for the purpose. The request came in a letter to the Minister for Lands dated 4 July 1878, signed by a number of local residents including Samuel and Samson Southwel, Willliam Mitchell, Donald Murty and others. Correspondence between the Department of Public Instruction and the District Inspector, Mr J.H. Murray, suggests that he thought the projected population of the area would be insufficient. However a site of two acres for a school and 28 acres for a school reserve was approved on 9 December 1878. These were portions 166 and 168 respectively, Parish of Ginninderra, County of Murray.

A slab and bark hut measuring l7ft. by 10ft. by 7ft. was built by parents from locally cut timber. The school operated half-time with Jeir, the teacher travelling between the two places, teaching week and week about at each, thus giving some degree of continuity. 0fficial records show that the first teacher appointed to the two schools was John Tevlin, appointed on 7 May 1878. It is likely that Bedellick operated in a private home, a common practice, until the beginning of 1879 when George Holmes was appointed on 14 February. The school opened with an enrolment of 17 pupils and maintained a weekly average of 12 for some years, which was the figure required for a Half time school.

0n 16 May 1883, Mr George Read was transferred from Yaven Yaven to the schools. Shortly afterwards in July, Bedellick was created a Provisional school and Miss Margaret Bell was appointed to commence duty on 4 July. She reported to the school on 15 July. Apparently Mr Read refused to allow her to take up her post. 0n a number of occasions she attempted to assume duty. 0n 25 August, the District Inspector, Mr L. Lawford recommended that Miss Bell teach at Bedellick and Mr Read at Jeir. This finally took place on 10 September. 0n 17 September, Mr Read was dismissed from the teaching service. The 'Yass Courier' dated 7 August, carried an article headed 'Red Tapeism' describing the incident, showing great concern for the fact that the Education Department was apparently paying two teachers for the period of the dispute.

In March 1884, the Inspector reported on the poor accommodation at the school, noting that there were no toilets, and the fireplace needed urgent repairs. A tender for ₤25 was accepted from Mr Donald Murty to build two 'bush' toilets, repair the chimney, glaze a window and add five feet to the building.

We know that the building faced slightly west of north, with a chimney in the southern corner. The boy's playing area and cricket pitch was some 75 yards to the north and their toilet slightly beyond this area. The girlrs playing ground and toilet were to the east. At the rear of the school some 100 yards distant was a small dam. In their separate playing areas, the girls played such games as jacks, pegs, hoops and skipping, while the boys played tops, marbles, pegs and prisoners base. It is a comment on the times that separate playgrounds were maintained for so few children.

In 1888 Mr Lawford requested the teacher, Miss Ada Hazell, who was appointed on 28 June 1887, to obtain local quotes to cover the bark roof with corrugated iron, provide ridge capping and fill the spaces between the slaps with tin. This work was carried out by Samuel Southwell who lived nearby at 'Cowhollow', for ₤15.11.6. A tank was added at a later date. Prior to the addition of a tank, children carried drinking water from home in bottles. It is also likely that a 12 gallon milk-can was used at the school to hold water supplied from 'Wattle park' and 'Cow Hollow' homesteads as each was a registered dairy with such cans.

Miss Hazell boarded in the adjoining village of Hall and when Bedellick was raised to the status of Public School on 1 July, 1988, was appointed the first Teacher-in-Charge. She resigned from teaching on 31 December, 1889 to marry Mr John Southwell of 'Carrington', son of Samson Southwell who lived near the school at 'Wattle Park'.

Miss Mary 0'Oonnell commenced duty on 14 January 1890, boarding with Samuel Southwell and later in Hall. Although she had some disputes with one parent, she appears to have the backing of the majority of them.

Between 1893 and 1895, there were difficulties in maintaining the required average attendance. 0n 24 June 1893 a number of parents under-took to keep the average attendance at 12 pupils or make up the teacher's salary. Again in 1895 a promise of an enrolment of 19 was made and a recommendation for the school to remain open. Two pupils apparently travelled from Wallaroo to help boost numbers.

One application of interest was made by Miss Hazell in 1888, when she requested that the school be used as a meeting place for a Mutual Improvement Society. This was refused. One wonders if this was related to the Band of Hope then operating at the nearby Wattle Park Church.

During the years it was obvious that both Samuel and Samson Southwell took a considerable interest in the school. Not only did they carry out repairs, board teachers at various times, and help with school activities, but they were of assistance in other ways. Samuel on one occasion wrote to the District Inspector expressing concern for the teacher's health. Sampson was called to the school to cut a board from the girl's toilet so that a child's finger, caught in a knot hole, could be freed.

The last teacher of the fifteen who taught at Bedellick was Balfour Morgan, who was appointed on 21 April 1903. His stay was short lived as the school was destroyed by fire on 30 November of that year. In his letter to Inspectory Sheehy at Yass, reporting the fire, he comments that the "origin of the fire is a mystery". 0n 7 December, he further reported that a coronial inquiry had resulted in the jury returning an open finding. Part of the police report from Gininderra (the spelling is from Constable Hallet's report) says that the school was "situated in a well populated district where a respectable class of people are living ... there were no tracks around the school and no strangers were observed". It was Constable Hallett's opinion that children playing with matches may have dropped them through cracks in the floor.

The school was valued at ₤30. The remains, a damaged water tank and the toilets were purchased by Samuel Southwell for ₤3.5.0. One toilet remains nearby at 'East Lynne'. It is ironic that the Chief Inspector recommended that a circular be sent to schools forbidding teachers to smoke on school premises. A report of the fire appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' dated 4 December.

The destruction of the school had a quick response from local residents in the Hall area. 0n 17 December 1903 the Department of Public Instruction received a letter from James Kilby and others requesting the building of a school at Hall to provide for both the children of the village and those from Bedellick.

0n 17 March l906, Charles Thompson from Ginninderra school reported that owing to the small number of children in the Bedellick area, it was advisable that the school site be leased. This was done to Samuel Southwell. ln 1927, Lindsay Southwell, son of Samuel, purchased the Portion 168 excluding an area of seven acres which was retained for possible future school use.

In January 1972, this seven acres consisting of Portions 166 and 126 were purchased by Mr M.B.Southwell, son of Lindsay, whose home 'Glenbower' is situated on part of the original 28 acrres.

Laurie Copping Canberra 1991.

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NSW Government schools from 1848

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