WATEROUS SCHOOL


Compiled by M.W. Smith from records at the Archives


A petition was sent from parents at Waterous - also known as Waterhouse Mill, which was 3.5 miles from Hoffman's Mill, to the Education Department on 17/02/1898, requesting the establishment of a school. This petition was signed by - Marsland (7 children) Hickmott, Moriaty, Chivers, Cleverly, Meara, Hearne, Rowe, McLachlan, Anderson, Gibson, Carson, Johnston (a widow with one daughter), Baker and Johnston. The Department replied that these were all mill families, the school should be erected and paid for by Millars. This was on 25/3/1898 and the matter lapsed for a few months. On 6/5/1898 Millars replied to the Department that they were not prepared to give the school building, but offered to erect it and then rent it to the Education Department, as they did at Hoffman's and at their Denmark Mill. It was not suitable to take the children by mill train into school at Hoffman's. The Department replied that they paid an "exorbitant rent" to Millars of 75 pounds per year (i.e. about $150 in 1981) and were not prepared to pay that sort of rent.

No further action was taken for nearly six months when the parents approached their local Member of Parliament, Mr W.J George, and asked for his help in the matter. Mr George M.L.A then got up another petition and on 2/8/1898 this was sent to the Education Department. Nothing further came of this petition and correspondence resumed in January of 1899 regarding a school at Waterous.

On 27/1/1899 the manager of the Jarrah Forests Co. offered a room to be used as a school, and in March the Department agreed to this proposal and notified Millars Karri & Jarrah Co. Ltd., that a teacher would be sent after the Easter holidays. The school was finally opened on the 8/4/1899, and was to be used, rent free, until the end of the year and during the following year.

The teacher in 1900 was Mr Harry Harris and he was complaining the school was being used for dances, without his consent. Due to his complaints, a hall was built at Waterous to be used for meetings and dancing. He remained through 1901 and was replaced in March 1902 by M Moorhouse. Rent was now required for the premises as the previous agreement had finished and Millars asked for 15 pound per year. At the same time they were receiving 25 pound per year for the schoolroom at Mornington, so the terms were not "exorbitant".

As the population increased, the pressure on the small school was increased and complaints began about lack of accommodation, not enough desks, some infants being excluded from schooling due to the smallness of the room and so on. These infant children (5 of them) were all under six years of age and there was no legal requirement of the schoolteacher to accept them. However, in some small bush schools very small children were often accepted, as they were required to "keep the numbers up" to stop the closure of the school. Such was not the case at Waterous.

The parents again approached their local member, this time Mr M Atkins M.L.A and a petition about the overcrowding was prepared. This petition was signed by - Gillard, Partur, Thorpe, Thornton, Henry, Truscott, McLachlan, Carroll, McKever, McRory, Keevers, H. Hutchinson, Young, Marduer, Strassbury, Deegan, H. Smith, Gleeson, Gardner, Rutherford, Wood, Meara, Waller, Cooke, Pitman, Parker, McLachlan, Stedman. The names had changed a bit from the original petition but it showed an increase of twelve families in the town and the number of children would have been more than that.

During 1902, Mr Moorhouse had to expel Arthur Rutherford from the school but there is no record of the offence he must have committed. When the Department replied to the petition for more rooms, they found "no more rooms are necessary yet", much to the disappointment of the parents. In January of 1903 when the school re-opened they had a new teacher P.Colbert, and a large number on the roll, 69 of whom 62 came to school on the first day, 20/01/1903.

The crowded schoolroom was very hot that summer, so a verandah was added along the West Side to keep the sun out. This was quite effective, but also resulted in keeping a lot of the light from the room and the teacher complained of the room being badly lit and too dark in the winter months. To rectify this, two windows were added to the East Side. These alterations were made in July 1903 the teacher P.Colbert asked for a monitor to help with the large number of pupils and his wife was appointed to the position.

During 1904 a further request for another assistant was made, and Mrs. Gardiner offered to board a young lady if one were sent. Nothing seems for have come of this suggestion. There was also a request for proper blackboards to fit on the walls. At the time, the teacher was using three blackboards on easels, which were always in his way, as there was not much room. A cloth to put on the walls was provided, but was most unsatisfactory as the walls were beaded matchboard and did not provide a smooth surface, while the cloth was not firm enough for use.

A new teacher arrived in March of 1904, James T. Draper, and he stayed until the end of the year. In the New Year, 1905 another teacher arrived, Mr Sulbrick, who also stayed a year. The Department made an inspection of the premises in May of 1906 and pronounced then in "good condition". The teacher then was a single man, Mr. D.H Ball and did not require a house, which Millars had offered for the teacher. Mr Ball opened the school for the 1907 year on February 28th.

As the mill town declined, so Hoffman's and Nanga Brook began to grow. The school at Hoffman's Mill began in 1897, about the same time as Waterous but with the continued growth of that Mill it became the centre. The school there continued in use until 1962, as the Mill itself closed on 21/12/1961, thus ending an era of bush schooling at the timber towns in the area. Nanga Brook was burnt out in the big Dwellingup fire of February 23, 1961 and it too ceased to exist.


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