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Evans, John

John Evans was a well educated Irishman who sailed from London for Australia on the 'Darling Downs' in 1874 at the age of 20. In 1879, having made his way from Brisbane where he landed, to Sydney, he was a student at the Fort Street Public Training School. In July 1879, having paid a 'bond' of £36 and signed an undertaking to serve as a teacher for a period of at least three years, he received his first teaching appointment - at Cleveland Street School, Sydney. His teaching classification was IIIB.

Six months later he was transferred to Bunaloo in the southern Riverina, and from there, a year later was transferred to Conargo, fifty miles to the north. He again requested a move; as a IIIB teacher he could expect to be in charge of a Class 8 school, one up the ladder from Conargo. His request was met in January 1882 when he was appointed teacher to two Part Time schools, Jeir and Bedellick - between Yass and Canberra. A forage allowance of £10 a year to maintain a horse was granted.

In early 1883 Inspector Lawford recommended that Evans be appointed to Springbank public school (beside the Molonglo River at Acton) - like Conargo, a 9th Class school. The building was rudimentary, and the teacher's quarters attached quite inadequate. Evans found a room with George Kinlyside, a farmer at Duntroon, and was granted a rental allowance of 12/- a week.

While teaching at Springbank, Evans met the teacher at Gungahleen (formerly known as Stone Hut) school - Elizabeth Colvin. In 1885 they decided to marry, and the wedding took place on January 6th 1886 at Hardwicke, near Yass, where Elizabeth's parents lived.

After 36 years as a Teacher John Evans eventually retired on 14 February 1915, aged 62, having spent the last seventeen years of his career as Principal Teacher at Albion Park Public School.

The 1972 centenary history of the school included this tribute:

"In 1913 John Evans was still the teacher in charge at Albion Park Public School. He was a very dedicated man to his profession and was responsible for recording the school's early history. He was later described as its most remarkable headmaster by one of his former pupils, Bert Weston, who together with six other members of the Weston family, attended the school between 1907 and 1920.

Mr Weston paid tribute to John Evans by saying 'that he possessed all the qualities of a scholar, leader and teacher, was a fanatic on handwriting, a perfectionist in spelling, geography and mathematics, and also had a vast knowledge in astronomy, geology and botany' ".

[adapted, with grateful acknowledgement, from 'Grandpa's Story. The story of John Evans 1853-1951', Shirley Dean, 2014]


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