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Argyle Cutting [1885 - 1887]

The Argyle Cutting Public School was a temporary school that was opened in June 1885 for the children of men working on the Bungendore to Queanbeyan railway line. The school was located in the north eastern corner of Portion 132, Parish of Carwoola, between the Kings Highway and the railway line.

The hilly country in the sixteen miles between the two towns, together with Molonglo Gorge, made the going difficult, with construction gangs having to make a total of 139 cuttings. Twelve men lost their lives while working on the section of the line near Queanbeyan. Progress on the railway work was accompanied by the 'Railway Town' that moved from one location to the next. The town consisted of shanties and tents in which the workers and their families lived and from which butchers shops, bakeries, sly grog shops and other stories operated.

The school would have lasted a year or perhaps two at the most. Its location, along with successive locations of the 'railway Town, are probably now archaeological sites.

[extract from Giovanelli, P. 2010. Queanbeyan Heritage Survey.]

On 19 September 1885 the Australian Town and Country Journal carried a lengthy article on the progress of the railway line to Queanbeyan and beyond, which indicates the size of the labour force involved:

'The railway is slowly but surely making its way toward the rich plains of the Manaro, and it is anticipated that ere the lapse of twelve months the line will he opened as far as Queanbeyan. Already embankments and cuttings extend as far as Michelago, and rails have been laid down to the works at Brook's Hill, some six or seven miles from Bungendore, where some extensive tunnelling is being carried on. At present, Messrs. A. Johnson and Co., the contractors, have in their employ about 1800 men, and are vigor-ously pushing everything forward, with a view to completing their contract in due time. On those portions of the line where the character of the soil will admit, the cuttings are being effected by means of heavy ploughs, each of which, is drawn by twenty-five oxen. These appliances are now in full work at Rob Roy, where there is a camp of over 200 men. The district which will be opened up by the new line is an exceedingly rich one, both pastoral and agricultural pursuits being extensively followed.'

Argyle Cutting school.
After a long delay the promised school at Argyle Cutting on the railway line is in course of erection and as there are some 71 children in the vicinity it is hoped that the school will be well attended. [Goulburn Evening Post 4.8.1885 & Queanbeyan Age 1.8.1885]

Letter from Dept of Public Instruction dated 17th June 1885 to Mr W Afflick, Hon Sec Public School Board, District No. 30 indicating that the Dept intends to erect a public school Argyle Cutting and that the Minister has authorised Messrs J Devlin, M Callaghan and WH Harvey to have a new wooden building erected for the school. [Goulburn Evening Post (abridged from the Age) 27.6.1885 & Queanbeyan Age 24.6.1885]

References:
Australian Town and Country Journal, Saturday 19 September 1885, p.28
Lea-Scarlett,E. 1968. Queanbeyan: District and People, Queanbeyan Municipal Council: Queanbeyan
Giovanelli, P. 2010. Queanbeyan Heritage Survey. For Queanbeyan City Council.

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