by Jenny Golding
Updated: 11 July 2022
Education in Waterloo began very soon after the first settler, Mr Terence Hynes, arrived in 1886 to farm in the district.
The Shivers family came to Waterloo in 1886, only months behind bachelor Terence’s arrival, and the young man offered to teach the Shivers children. Two of the Shivers daughters are believed to have later become teachers. Descendants Reg Hynes and Margaret Vinci, speak of Terence teaching children in his home at Fir Park, a property along the Perth-Bunbury Road and almost opposite Wireless Road.
The Waterloo State School opened in 1896 in a new building not far from the Waterloo – Dardanup Road. An informative later newspaper article reported:
The first teacher, Miss Antonia Vetter, was educated at Brisbane Grammar School. She lived at the Shivers home and then at Mrs Maguire’s home near the river, a walk of three miles to the school. She was an excellent teacher.
When the children’s education was examined at the end of 1896, eleven of the fifteen students enrolled were present and marks were high as reported in the local newspaper:
“The answering throughout was invariably in complete sentences and the children have been taught intelligently and taught to think. Order and discipline, very good; English and Geography, excellent, 100 percent being gained. Reading, writing and arithmetic were also excellent … Scripture, very good; moral lessons, good; object lessons, very good; needlework – garments, very fair, specimens bad. The infants passed a most satisfactory examination. Kindergarten has been commenced”.
Pupil, Gertrude Maguire, received her Certificate of Success when she passed “the Examination of the Inspector of Schools in the First Standard in all subjects”. Her certificate is dated November 10th 1896.
The school closed on the 31 March 1900 and reopened on the 4 September 1901 with Mary A Williams as teacher.
The purpose-built school was converted to teacher’s accommodation in 1901 and the teacher and children transferred to the Agricultural Hall, built in Waterloo in 1897.
Fred Shannon taught from 1903 until 1905 with Mary Shannon, the sewing teacher. Teaching sewing was an important role then because the making of clothes and household linen was expected of women in a smoothly running home.
Frank Hughes came from Albany to teach from 1906 to 1910 and was paid £130 in 1906 with increases each year until he was earning £170 in 1910.
In 1909, at the “Christmas Tree Party”, an important part of social life in Waterloo and a highlight for children, Annie Coonan was presented with the trophy she had won at the recent Royal Show for penmanship. Katherine Harris won the prize for the best kept plot in the school ground.
Miss Amy Hughes was the sewing teacher in 1907 but resigned in 1908. Miss Olive Jeffrey earned £12 as sewing mistress in 1909 and 1910 but the appointment lapsed in 1911, perhaps because a woman was appointed as school teacher.
Three scholars, Rebecca Combs, Olive Tyrrell, and Harold Combs received prizes from the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1910.
Mrs Isabella McAlice became head teacher from 1911 to 1915, apart from leave in 1914, and earned £150 to £170 per year. Miss Georgina Dobbins taught in 1914.
School banking, with children bringing, if possible, a little money each month to be deposited and recorded in their individual bank deposit books meant that in August 1908 students banked a total of £3 / 7s / 5d and in September, £1 / 6s / 3d. Learning the value of money was an important part of a child’s education at home and at school.
While the school was housed at the hall, repeated complaints were made to the Education Department, pointing out the difficulties for the teacher in shifting furniture and school furnishings back and forth whenever a meeting or social event was held there.
The Post Office was in a room in the hall. The Postmistress/ Postmaster were accommodated in the hall, their chickens were free range, horses and carts crowded what should have been a playground, there were no proper washing facilities for the children and there was little room for a playground and certainly no room for cricket or football. Perhaps, most vexing, was the fact that the children could clearly hear anything being said by anyone using the public telephone just outside the Post Office.
Apparently, acreage was set aside for a school in 1914 but the school was not built. Petitions to have a school built continued.
In 1919 Peace Medals were presented to each child at a social evening held to impress upon the young the great event of peace “after a terrible war which it is to be hoped will never occur again”.
A paper outlining accommodation issues was written in 1925 by a concerned Waterloo resident. It is kindly shared by Mrs Jean Tyrrell:
“….For over twenty years, the local Hall has been used as a makeshift school and this place has not the conveniences a school should have. It is a public place. The Post Office is in the same building with callers disturbing and the telephone ringing all day. Horses and vehicles are always tethered in the yard which is supposed to be a playground. The playground is also a run for the poultry belonging to our Postmaster who lives on the premises.
In winter the ground is almost under water and this prevents the children from having the little garden other schools have.
Inside, the buildings are unsuitable. The school material has to fit in where the hall material makes room and after any function in the hall the teacher has the trouble of straightening out his material.
As before mentioned, noise is continually disturbing the class. Every word spoken into the telephone can be heard by the class and too much is heard too often.
No accommodation is provided for shelter of the children. In winter the rain blows in the veranda and the children have to stay inside as there is no shelter shed, also no convenience is provided for washing which has to be carried out in the open in every weather.
There used to be a little school where the teachers’ quarters now stand but when the hall was built the classes were transferred to the hall because it was larger.
Since then, we have endeavoured to have a school in between these two places until we managed to have the new school placed on the estimates in 1914 but it was not carried out”.
Following much agitation and after incredible patience and determination, the needs of teachers, pupils and residents saw a new school built and opened in Waterloo in 1926, close to the acreage for an oval and easing pressure on space for teacher and pupils.
The photograph below, of children at the school built in 1926, was taken in or close to 1928.
Teachers at the school, through the years, included Messrs J Davies and C Hill, Mrs Proctor, Messrs Armstrong, Stan Louis, Mrs Loney, Messrs Darrah, Harley Webster, White, Geoff Bridges, Mitchell, R Shalders, McKinley and Les Mavor.
Waterloo School closed on the 28 August 1936 and reopened in 1942. Reg Hynes said that, during these years, he and other children boarded at the Convent in Bunbury but others, including Ernie Manoni, caught a train to and from Burekup for schooling.
For the last years of the school’s existence, student numbers increased considerably and the hall was used once again for some classes prior to the government delivering a transportable room to the school area. Students enjoyed a playground of natural bushland, with wild flowers and goannas being of great interest. The Waterloo tennis courts and oval were only walking distance away.
The school closed at the end of 1971 when four district primary schools (Waterloo, Wellington Mills, Ferguson and Dardanup) were amalgamated into a newly built State School at Dardanup. School buses transported children daily to the new school.
Pupils at the school in 1971, the closing year of Waterloo State School:
Interestingly, the children at the close of 1972 chose to have their “Christmas Tree” in the Waterloo Hall, as it had been for so many years, but the area’s children in time elected to be part of the inclusive “Christmas Tree” party in Dardanup in 1973.
- WA Education Circulars.
- John Rikkers: Schools in Western Australia 1896-1945, Third Volume.
- Papers held by Mrs. Jean Tyrrell.
- Interviews with Mrs Ruth Palmer, Mrs Margaret Vinci, Mr Reg Hynes.
- Bunbury Herald (WA: 1892-1919) 21 December 1906 P. 3; 30 December 1909 P. 3; 23 March 1912 P. 8; 26 July 1919 P. 6
- South Western Tribune (Bunbury, WA: 1917-1929) 5 Feb. 1925 P. 4
- Southern Times (Bunbury WA 188-1916) 22 Dec. 1896 P. 3., 20 Dec. 1910 P. 5
- The Bunbury Herald and Blackwood Express (WA: 1919-1929) 8 June 1923; 7 April 1925 P. 3; 13 November 1925 P. 3; 1 January 1926 P. 8; 12 Feb. 1926.
- Photographs from Margaret Vinci