The following are excerpts taken from “Inverell Sacred Heart Convent School 1914-1963” by Beth Farrell
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Inverell Sacred Heart Convent School
Chapter 1 – In the Beginning …
Public education began in Inverell in 1863, in new buildings described by the District Inspector, Mr McIntyre, as being of ‘superior description.’
In 1867, there are references to a Catholic school with a lay teacher. The School Inspector of the time told his superiors:
‘I was informed that as the teacher at the recently established Roman Catholic school is the wife of a police constable in the town, some of the publicans, who are Roman Catholics, feel themselves compelled to withdraw their children from the Public School to avoid annoying interference of the police authorities in relation to their business.’
… In 1876, ‘A Roman Catholic school, under teacher Mrs Carolan, was meeting in the church with 100 pupils.’ The fees were 10c per week for the first child, 9c for the second, 5c for third and 2c for the fourth.
This appears to be a different school from that reported in 1867, and is said to have been started by Fr Davis upon his arrival in 1873.
By 1876, Inverell Municipal Council was collecting rates for ‘the RC School House, valuation 413, in Otho Street, value $40, rate $1.80 per year.’
Sisters of St Joseph
The Sisters of St Joseph came to Inverell in 1880 to conduct a Parish School. The Order had been founded in 1866 at Penola in South Australia by Fr Julian Tenison-Woods and a school-teacher, Mary MacKillop. It aimed specifically to provide Primary education for children in remote areas.
Mother Mary MacKillop wanted the Order to choose where to teach. Some Bishops preferred Diocesan control. Disagreement led to the withdrawal of the Order’s activities from South Australia and Queensland. New South Wales Bishops encouraged its transfer to their State.
Three Sisters arrived in Inverell on Saturday 11 June 1880. Fr Cherubini rented a small cottage in Campbell Street for them to live in.
The Sisters settled in over the weekend and opened a school in Otho Street on the Monday morning, 13 June. The initial enrolment was 57 children; it increased to 105 by 27 June.
Fr Cherubini soon wrote to Mother Mary to thank her for sending the good sisters ‘to make my mind so easy in respect to our poor Catholic children who were nearly altogether abandoned’.
Christian education bore results. On August 15, fifteen children made their first communion and in December Bishop Torreggiani confirmed a good number of others.
By November 1880 a Parish school had been completed at a cost of $860 – a large, single-room, wooden building on the western corner of Vivian and Rivers Streets (the site of the present Presbytery).
The Bishop of Armidale, Dr Torreggiani, wrote to Mother Mary MacKillop on 6 June 1881. He confirmed the Order’s right to choose school locations, encouraged the move to New South Wales and added ‘I am now building a nice little convent for your Sisters at Inverell’.
(This convent stood on the site of the present Church – a low wooden building, with a hall down the middle, a dormitory, three other rooms, and two verandahs, it survived until 1929).
The St Joseph Sisters remained in Inverell for nine years. Unfortunately, none of their teaching records survive. Some Sisters were – Casimir Meskill, Philomena, Mary Lucy O’Neill, Francis, Francesca, Cuthbert, Gonzaga, Julia, Mary Magdalene and Mary Cyril, a postulant. Mother Mary MacKillop visited the Inverell community during this time.
The school was wrecked by a severe storm on 11 December 1888. A nun saw it coming and sent the children home, so casualties were avoided. Witnesses said the school was not blown over – the walls caved in. A new, stronger school building was immediately constructed on the same site.
Trying for alternative premises, Inverell’s Mayor, Mr Mayne, sent a telegram to the Education Department. He pointed out that the children were about to take their annual examination and asked for use of the old Public School building. The Minister refused, it was contrary to regulations for Departmental buildings to be used for any denominational purpose.
By 1889, 200 pupils were enrolled at the convent school. The Sisters of St Joseph considered their position – Inverell was expanding and a higher grade of education was appropriate; ‘the call of the outback’ reminded the sisters of the needs of children in more remote areas.
In 1890, the Provincial of the Order visited Inverell and interviewed Dean Mitchell. After negotiations, the Gunnedah Sisters of Mercy were persuaded to take over in Inverell. The Sisters of St Joseph withdrew at the end of 1890. They opened a school at Tingha in January of 1891. …
Chapter 2 – Sisters of Mercy …
… On the following Monday (1891), teaching started in two schools described as primary and high school. The Parish School gave primary education to Classes 1 to 3. A new ‘select’ school was set up, apparently functioning separately and including subjects not taught in the primary school – French, Algebra, Painting and Needlework.
Boarding facilities were commenced in 1900 with four girls. Two of them were Coralie Williams (later Sr M. Ursula) and Poss Williams (later Mrs B M Wade). Their parents conducted a hotel in a mining village and wanted the girls preserved from the living conditions around them.
An idea of the curriculum is provided by this advertisement in the Inverell Times of 27 October 1900:
Convent High School INVERELL Conducted by the SISTERS OF MERCY
The HIGH SCHOOL conducted so long and so successfully by the Sisters of Mercy will re-
open on Monday, July 9th. The course of Instruction embraces all the branches required for a high class English education; also modem
languages, vocal and instrumental music, drawing, painting (oils, water colours, etc).
Fancy work in all latest designs, including Limerick and Point Lace.
Pupils are prepared, if required, for the University Examinations, also for the Trinity College Music Examinations. Special attention is paid to the Religious and Moral training of the pupils, and lessons are given in Etiquette and Deportment. Private lessons given on any subject.
For terms apply to THE SISTER SUPERIOR
Chapter 3 – The Building Days …
With the Church (1904) and the Convent (1908 – Ireby Lodge) firmly in place, efforts were directed towards the construction of a brick school. It was urgently needed as school was being taught ‘in every hold and corner or the garden.’
A foundation stone was laid on Sunday 22 February 1914. A procession of altar boys formed outside the Church and escorted the Bishop, Rt Rev Dr O’Connor, and Frs English and Harrington to the new building. (This new building became the Sacred Heart School remembered by those at the 1992 reunion; it stood on the site of the present Presbytery).
Before an assembled crowd, the Bishop held prayers with responses. He then laid the foundation stone. Of patent marble composition, it had an inscription reading:
‘This stone was laid by the Right Rev Dr O’Connor, Bishop of Armidale, 22nd February 1914’.
Two compartments were provided for the reservation of documents. In one of these the last issue of the ‘Inverell Times’ was placed and in the other a parchment sheet containing the following words:
‘The stone enclosing the document was, as indicated laid on Sunday, February 22nd 1914, by his Lordship, Dr O’Connor, Bishop of Armidale. The following records of the day may be interesting reading to those who may be privileged to read them, let us hope, many years hence, at a time when the structure now used with pride and humility shall have been demolished to make way for more commodious accommodation for the education of the young of the district.’
Here followed the names of the Pope, King George, State and Commonwealth Governments, local Church, School and Municipal records. (After the demolition of the building many years later, the newspaper and the parchment were recovered and preserved).
On completion of the ceremony, the procession returned to the Church. Mass was said by Fr Harrington. From the altar, the Bishop said that the day’s ceremony had been calculated to inspire people and ‘there is nothing so inspiring as the training and bringing up of little ones in the fear and love of God’. A luncheon was held afterwards in the dining hall at the Convent. Dr O’Connor presided. Also present were Rev Frs English and Harrington, Mr J F O’Connor (the Mayor elect of Inverell), and Messrs Currey, J B Donovan, B M Wade, O’Shaughanessy, Cloonan and Walton.
The Bishop said that the school building reflected the greatest credit on the architect. The contractor was pushing ahead with commendable speed and was using the best of workmanship.
Speeches identified the contractor as Ald J F O’Connor and the builder as Mr Currey. Mr Currey said he was doing his best to build the school so that it would stand the ravages of time, and remain as a monument to the goodness of the people who were building it.
Fr English thought that there would be very little money owing on the school in twelve months time. He felt he could rely on the ladies to ‘work in the future as they had done in the past’.
The Bishop added that after the Convent (school) was paid off, he would recommend them to start on a new presbytery, as the present one was unfit for people to live in. If he were a priest stationed in Inverell he would not live in the presbytery for a day.
The Bishop thanked the Sisters for their kindness in entertaining the company, and said it was only a further proof of their hospitality.
An adjournment was then made to the lobby, where, ‘after a friendly cigar’, the gathering dispersed.
The Inverell Times of 10 July 1914 reported that the new parochial school, conducted in connection with the Convent, would be ready for the Sisters on the following Monday.
In making the announcement, the Rev Dean Tobin paid a tribute to the members of the congregation for providing such a fine building. It would be officially opened and dedicated by the Bishop later in the year.
The parishioners kept busy, raising money for the School with various functions. Catholic Balls were held on the 26th and 27th August ‘to aid in furnishing the recently erected Convent School’. Prices for entry were low – 75c a double, 50c for gents and 30c for ladies. The ‘Inverell Times’ quoted the prices as being 1 quite within the reach of the humblest devotee of terpsichore’.
And: ‘What of the War? – the young men can sit a dance or two with their sweethearts, and fill their minds with the glorious deeds they intend to achieve when called to the front’.
Another social took the form of a euchre tournament held in the School of Arts and ‘the Catholic school fund materially benefited by the result’. Twentyfive iables were occupied, Miss N Perkins won the ladies 3rize (a set of silver spoons) and Father Harrington he gentlemans (a set of carvers).
The Parochial School and Hall was official declared ,pen on Sunday 11 October 1914. A smart shower fll before the ceremony, but there was a large ttendance, including some country residents.
Solemn Mass was first celebrated by his Lordship, Bishop O’Connor. Assisting clergy were Dean Tobin, Fr Brown, CSSR, Superior of the Mother House at Waratah, and Fr Gleeson, Provincial of Australia.
After the Mass, a ceremony was held to declare the building open. Dean Tobin presided; there was an official party of Bishop O’Connor, Fr Brown, Frs Gleeson and McDermott, the Mayor, Ald J F O’Connor, Ald R G Howard, Ald W Katitz, Messrs A J Esau, C Murry, J B Donovan, Shannessy, J Cloonan, G Williams, F T Clark, J M Edmonds, D Marshall, E B Cotton, S Cloonan and Kelleher.
Dean Tobin recalled Fr Gleeson’s words from an address at Mass, ‘if we have no Catholic schools, we will have no Catholic Churches’.
The new buildings were admired ‘not only as a centre of learning but as ornaments to the important town of Inverell’. They reflected credit not only on the Catholics but on the Architect (Messrs O’Connor and Ogilvie) and the contractor (Mr Currey).
(The brick structure had four class-rooms and a large hall suitable to use either for functions or for two classes).
A balance sheet showed receipts $2136, expenses $5486, leaving a debt of $3350. Furniture had been provided by the Sisters of Mercy.
The Bishop declared he preferred to open a school to a church or a presbytery – ‘Youth is the time to sew the seed in the mind, and the seed must be carefully selected’.
He appealed for more subscriptions, to reduce the debt on the building. A new presbytery was badly needed but no start could be made until the school was paid for.
Chapter 4 – The 20’s and 30’s …
Pupils of the day commenced school at the age of 6 years. If successful each year, they progressed to Sixth Class. For most, the goal of their education was to pass the Qualifying Certificate at the end of 6th Class. Others were prepared for High School examinations, particularly the Intermediate Certificate.
Examination papers for the Qualifying Examination held on Monday, 3 November 1919 were kept by Cecila Salmon (Farrell). The time-table shows that examinations took place all day – Mathematics, Dictation and English in the morning; History and Geography in the afternoon.
The papers gave a solid testing of the pupil’s schooling. Some questions carried more marks than others. This allowed candidates seeking a bursary to build up their chances.
English asked for a composition on a Great War subject; an invitation letter to a school-mate; ~mowledge of poetry , parsing and analysis. History was strongly biased towards a knowledge of Europe; .n Geography about half the questions concerned Australia. Mathematics was a severe test in various .omputations, for lengths, multiplications and costs.
Pupils were kept waiting for their results until 23 January 1920 when they were published in the Inverell Times’. Those successful included: Inverell Sacred Heart Convent School, Francis Asher, Rita Bercini, Monnie Brickwood, Clarence Golledge, Thelma Golledge, Eileen Hanrahan, Marcie McGrath, Marie Mitchell, Richard Mitchell, Erie Murphy, William O’Shannessey, Amy Salmon, Cecilia Salmon, Mary Kelleher.
Elizabeth Salmon (Coleman) decided to teach school. he received a reference from the Sisters of Mercy .r Sr M Peter – ‘Miss Elizabeth Salmon has been educated in our school. We found her obedient, diligent and satisfactory in every way. She is capable of managing a subsidised School, having reached the seventh standard’.
The need to expand encouraged the Sisters of Mercy acquire more real estate in the 1920’s.
The Egan residence, a two-storey brick building (now the residence for the manager of Ireby Lodge, fronting on to Vivian Street), was purchased from Charles Egan on 31 October 1922. Transfer documents record that it passed to Mary Souter, Catherine Nowland, Annie Welsh, all of Gunnedah, and Catherine Kennedy of Inverell, as joint tenants.
The down-stairs rooms were soon used for the Sisters to teach Music and for the pupils to practise in.
It is believed that boy boarders were taken in from this time. They were accommodated in the up-stairs rooms of Egans’ Residence, with Sr Catherine in charge.
On the same block was an old building called ‘The Mart’ that had been once used as the town auction room. (It is now Witherdin’s spare parts store).
A boy’s gymnasium for school children was conducted at night in ‘The Mart’ – a Catholic Club run by Jack and Dick Cook, Jack Parmenter and others. Boarders were not allowed to go there without permission.
The Commercial/Shorthand/Typing Classes were transferred to part of ‘The Mart’. It was to become their venue for many years while the Sisters conducted ‘St John’s Business College’.
At about the same time, the Sisters acquired Lot 8, Section 21 (the corner block now occupied by the Witherdin businesses). On it then were some old buildings, including one, near Otho Lane, that had been at one time the premises of the ‘Inverell Times’.
The Sisters rented out one old building to Hughie Hughes to use as a shoe repair shop, for 10c a week. Some of the other buildings were demolished. A small-size tennis court for use by the nuns was built on the corner; boarders were allowed to share it.
The Sisters then owned all of the block between Vivian Street and Otho Lane. They had a corrugated iron fence built around the whole area, excepting for the front of the school facing Rivers Street.
Jack Marquardt recalls this period – ‘School was a grind, preparing for the Intermediate Certificate. It seemed to be all sums. We also had Algebra, Geometry, Business Principles, History and English.
‘Arthur Yates had a mind of his own and liked to argue with the Sisters about the lessons. Sometimes while working on sums or English, he would do a sketch of a steam engine or an aeroplane while working on sums or English, he would do a sketch of a steam engine or an aeroplane on a book. These sketches were our only instruction in Science.
‘In English, we learned to analyse every sentence and parse every word. A lot of attention was given to the correct pronunciation of words. Books studied in the courses included the works of Dickens.
‘Passing the Intermediate and seeing your name in the Inverell Times was a proud time. Not many had the privilege.
‘Sport was not regarded as an important part of school activities. Whatever we did we arranged ourselves. Cricket practice took place on the side of the street in Vivian Street, close to the ‘Lone Pine Tree’ area. Football was played on the site of the Giblin residence, with 50 kids of all ages trying to get a slice of the action.
‘The school musical concerts were outstanding. Two great artists were Jessie Hardy on piano and Joe O’Sullivan on violin. Both made a great contribution to the school.
‘We had to supply our own material – texts books, writing paper and pens. Pupils started school at the age of six years. All the teachers were nuns, one to a class.
‘The teachers did not have much training. Almost as soon as they entered the Convent, the young nuns were out teaching a class’.
Mary Regazzi (Dasey) has described her classes in the late 1920’s – Babies’ Class in 1926, taught by Miss Lennon. 1927, 1st Class (held in the same room as Babies’ Class), taught by Sr Benedicta.
2nd Class in 1928, with the teacher Sr Gertrude. She was an aged nun who had taught Mary’s father, Arthur Regazzi, when he attended the school in about 1891.
In 1929, 3rd Class, held with 2nd Class in one Big Room in the front of the school. Functions and dances were also held there. The teacher was Sr Catherine for most of the time, although Sr Raphael also taught. 4th Class was held on a stage at the south end of the Big Room. In 1931, Sr Lyola was the teacher.
At that time, 6th Class was in a room at the back of 4th Class, off the stage, with Sister Bemadette in charge. Directly opposite 6th Class, across a courtyard (and behind Babies’/First Class) was 5th Class and Sr Columbia.
Behind 5th Class were two rooms where High School classes were taught.
The Boys’ School
Important additions to Sacred Heart School were completed in 1928 at a cost of well over $6000. They were intended as accommodation for a Boys’ College.
(In these additions, extensions were made to the north-western side of the 1909 brick Convent building, completing the ‘Convent’ known to later generations and now existing as the whole building of Ireby Lodge. The additions part was better known in later years as ‘home’ for girl boarders).
Thought had earlier been given to erecting a one-storey structure, with plans to add a further storey later. However, when costs were examined, it was found to be more practical to build a two-storey building immediately.
The new premises were to accommodate boy boarders who were expected to come from all over the north west for Primary education.
There were eleven new rooms, including bathrooms, in a strong building of brick, lathe and plaster. It had been designed by Mr J F O’Connor and built by Nott Bros of Armidale.
The rooms joined on to the Convent in such a way as to leave no architectural break in the overall design. The whole structure was crowned by a cross in concrete.
On the ground floor were – the dining room with a serving room nearby; a kitchen, ‘spacious, well-ventilated and fitted with every modem appliance’; a pantry with roomy shelves and a refectory for the nuns.
Upstairs were three fine large airy dormitories, with their large windows strongly netted so that ‘it would be impossible for anyone to fall through them to the ground.’
There were beautiful bath-rooms ‘enamelled and bright with nickel fittings’, and a line of basins ‘for the ablutions which are necessary for boys before meals.’
Water for all uses was provided by a well just outside the building. It appears from descriptions that a hand-pump was used to draw the water upstairs. (The well was still there in 1979, although a small brick shed had been built over it and used to store coke).
The new structure was formally opened by Dr O’Connor, Bishop of Armidale, on Sunday, 26 February 1928, at a ceremony on the lawn of the Convent.
After a flattering welcome from Dean O’Neill, the Bishop commented that the Dean ‘may have kissed the blarney stone a couple of times’.
The Bishop explained that the old College had been inadequate and the new building would be for boys under twelve, the first for small boys in the Diocese. The education to be provided was seen as a preparation for the De La Salle College at Armidale. Boys would go there for a further four year course.
Parents could send their children to Inverell for schooling, secure in the care they would receive from the devout Sisters. The Sisters were ‘capable of mothering the boys for the mothers they would leave’.
The Bishop quoted as proof of the excellence of teaching in Inverell the Qualifying Certificate Bursary won by Richard Garrett. (Richard also won the Gold Medal for Religion. As he could not accept both awards, that prize went to Arthur Ryan. Richard’s story and photograph appeared in the -atholic Weekly in March 1928).
Other speakers were the Mayor, Ald F S Stuckey, Rev Fr Donleavy, Fr Carroll (Bundarra) and Mr J F O’Connor.
An appeal for funds raised $1600.
By 1929, the number of pupils was growing and the brick Sacred Heart School became too small. 1st and 2nd Year pupils were taught in the old wooden convent and they returned to the school for 3rd year.
The old building was very dilapidated; the floor boards were in poor condition and pupils became afraid to walk on them. Parts of the structure were closed off and no entry was allowed.
As part of planned changes, the old 1881 convent was demolished during the Christmas break of 1929. The area it had occupied was then prepared as a playground.
High School Rooms
In 1930, additional rooms were built to provide separate accommodation for High School classes. These were two large brick rooms added on to the wing of the School, parallel to Vivian Street. First and Second Year were to use one room and Third Year the other. The cost of construction was $2784.
At the opening of the rooms on 4 May 1930, Dean O’Neill said that the new High School was needed as the previous accommodation had become useless. More room was necessary for the devoted Sisters of Mercy to carry on their successful teaching.
Bishop O’Connor was then 82 years of age and was escorted to the ceremony by a bodyguard from the Hibernian Society. He had then spent 55 years on missionary work in Australia, 21 years as Bishop of Armidale.
The Bishop remarked that the new school had been erected at a time when everybody was talking of a depression.
He could see ‘No depression in Inverell’, the rural area seemed prosperous. The only depression he noted was in the shoulders of men as their wives entered shops to buy.
The Mother Superior invited a number of ladies to look over the Convent building – a model of brightness, cleanliness and efficiency. There were about 45 boarders (boys and girls) in residence and some 16 Sisters.
There were rooms for the varying life of a boarding school: refrectories, community rooms, sewing and reading rooms, playrooms, class rooms, and dormitories, plainly and simply furnished, but with everything necessary for the comfort and convenience of the inmates. The beautiful chapel was an outstanding feature of the institution.
In 1930, secondary classes had been in operation for a number of years. The school was granted official registration at Intermediate Certificate standard.
Buying ‘The Bank’
The 1930’s depression had an adverse affect on some local fortunes. The Australian Bank of Commerce (across the back lane from the Convent), went into liquidation in 1932.
The Sisters took the opportunity to purchase its two-storey building fronting Otho Street, thereafter referred to by the Sisters as ‘The Bank’. (It is now the premises containing Wilkes and Townsend, and Riley’s Cabana Fish Shop).
The upstairs area was converted into dormitories for the girl boarders and their Sisters-in-charge. This arrangement continued until 1940 when the Sisters sold the building to Mr Herb Foley. It passed to the present owner, Mr Joe George, in 1944.
Juvenile Balls were an annual enjoyable outing for students. They were held on the night before the adult Catholic Ball. Groups of children were organised into ‘Sets’, usually of six to eight boys and girls. They were dressed in fancy costumes, often made of crepe paper, and illustrating a theme – ‘Miss Muffet’, ‘Alice Blue Gown’ and the like.
Each set was prepared by a young lady of the town and competition appears to have been keen. Some Sets were brought from neighbouring towns to try for another prize after winning at home.
Annual Wood Days were a feature of the 1920’s and 30’s, with gangs of men going to country areas to cut 71rewood and bring it by trucks to the Convent.
One such day was reported in 1936. when between M and 90 tons of wood was gathered from a paddock )f Mr P Davis.
The wood-cutters were Messrs T Garrett, R Garrett jun, W Garrett, R Garrett sen, W Condon, E Manton, V Lester, Geo Smith jun, Geo Smith sen, E Phillips, G Phillips, E N Phillips, C O’Loughlin, Purcell, Rooney, Sweeny, J Dewberry, J Kellaher, Brown and McDonald.
Men with motor cars conveyed the cutters to the paddock – Messrs P J O’Heir, W Condon, H Kellaher, Phillips and C O’Loughlin.
The following placed lorries at the disposal of the rganisers to cart the wood from the paddock – Messrs B M Wade, R Smith, W Crittenden, S Sydes, J Foley, J Moore, E McDonald, A Croft, O’Farrell Bros, Thomas Bros and J O’Brien. A large number of people donated wood.
In 1940, ‘The Bank’ building was sold by the Sisters to Herb Foley. The girl boarders were then moved to the 1928 two-storey building. The supplanted boy boarders went back to their original accommodation, on the top floor of ‘Egan’s Residence.’
These arrangements continued until the last boy boarders left in 1962 and all boarders finished in 1965.
Chapter 5 – The 40’s and 50’s …
In the 1940’s, pupils used the back room of ‘The Mart’ for choir practices and to rehearse for concerts and eisteddfods.
The School Song, with its chorus of ‘Cheer for our school now, let us cheer’, dates from the middle 1940’s, The words are attributed to Sr Michael.
School uniforms appear to have become prevalent at about this time, probably re-introduced after the War. Most girls had one tunic of navy serge and wore it with a navy blazer. A white short sleeved blouse and short white socks completed the outfit in the summer months. These were replaced by a long sleeved blouse and long black stockings in the winter.
Photographs for later years show a school badge on the blazer pocket.
Boys wore grey shorts, a white shirt and tie, with shoes and long black socks. In winter, long grey trousers were worn.
Beth Farrell remembers 1943-51 – ‘The rooms could only be described as being Spartan and utilitarian, with no frills or luxuries.
‘There was a raised dais at the front of each room, furnished with a simple table and a chair. Sister sat there to supervise the class. Each table had its bell, used to start and finish lessons.
‘Some rooms had storage cupboards to hold chalk, dusters and other equipment. All the floors were of bare wood. The windows were hung with brown shades, their original use being to keep in light in any air raid.
‘A single light hung in the centre of each room, surrounded by a plain shade, but electric light was used only on the darkest of days. Fire-places were provided; the fires were not very large and of poor quality. The Sixth Class room had no heating at all.
‘A few Holy pictures hung on the walls. One was particularly beautiful, a copy of Murillo’s portrait of
‘Mary, Our Lady’, showing Mary with a globe of the world at her feet and a serpent twined around it.
‘The desks were very old, made of dark wood and with iron legs. The tops were pitted with designs and initials, carved there by past students. They seated two people, on separate folding seats. It was easy to damage a finger between the seats. Each desk had an ink-well. It needed to be cleaned out once a week and. would make a terrible mess if its contents were spilled.
‘High School subjects were Christian Doctrine., English, History, Geography, Art and Architecture, General Mathematics, English and Bookkeeping/Business Principles.
‘In English, books for study included ‘Wind in the Willows’, ‘Sohrab and Rustum’, and Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night, ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and ‘A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream’.
‘In the war years, there were air-raid shelters in the school grounds, usually filled with smelly water; 1 cant imagine what would have happened if we had ever had to use them’.
In 1947 a folding partition was built in the school hall, separating 4th and 6th classes. This allowed classes to concentrate on lessons without interference. The partition was folded back for Housie nights and for Concerts and Socials.
Beryl Sweeney (Shepherd) recalls – ‘Sports uniforms were introduced at about this time, of simple design in cesarine, with a round neckline, no sleeves and a flared skirt. Green was the colour for Primary School; a white blouse was worn and a yellow sash. High School girls graduated to a similar blue uniform with a red sash.
‘In the play-ground at 11 o’clock and lunch-time, girls played hopscotch, red-rover cross-over, skipping or vigaro. The boys had football, french cricket and marbles.
‘There were physical culture exercises to warm up before school in winter, done to music after the Public Address system was introduced. Also popular were broadjump, rounders and softball’.
School buses began to operate in the Inverell district. Late in 1947, MacIntyre Shire Council had called a public meeting to discuss the conveyance of school children and the need for the Shire Council to be in control of the buses.
A School Bus Committee was set up for each area, to run the service, to deal with any problems and to handle arrangements with the Shire Council.
The services were not free but representations were immediately made to the Minister for Education to try for free transport for children in rural areas.
Town Eisteddfods resumed in Inverell in 1948. The pupils became involved and practised their elocution for weeks before-hand.
In a newspaper report of the 1949 Eisteddfod results. some pupils’ names appear: Vocal solo, girls under 12 years – Carmel McCosker 86, Piano solo open -Colette Frater 81, Robin Psaros and Marjorie Wade 80. Verse recital open, Beryl Regan 62, Colette Frater 60. Choral verse-speaking (Secondary) -Convent of Mercy (Inverell) 1, Tingha Central School 2.
A new brick building was erected on Ross Hill in 1953 for use as St Mary’s School for Infants and sub-Primary pupils. Sr Margaret Mary Brady was in charge and she was assisted by Sr M Jude (later Sr Pauline).
Children who lived in Ross Hill entered Kindergarten at St Mary’s in that year. Ross Hill children who had completed Kindergarten or 1st Class at Sacred Heart School also enrolled at St Mary’s.
Sacred Heart School continued to provide classes from Kindergarten to Sixth Class and then to High School.
‘Me idea of the Ross Hill school had been put forward by Fr Stephens in 1944 on behalf of Dean O’Neill. The Dean had obtained the land many years before-hand, with visions of a second large centre for Catholicism in Inverell.
It is said that Dean O’Neill left money to build a Church on Ross Hill (possibly $6000). It was many years before permission was obtained to use the legacy in other ways.
In August of 1953, pupils were invited to submit essays on ‘Why Inverell needs Swimming’. The best four were those of Paula Crowley, Joy Perrett, Gordon Kenny and Daphne Croft.
Also in 1953, a Parents and Friends Association was in operation. One of its projects was to demolish the high corrugated iron fence along the School playground in Vivian Street and replace it with a modem structure of brick and steel. Another was to bitumenise the playground.
Chapter 6 – The 60’s to Close …
A boys’ school in Moore Street was opened on 5 February 1963, named ‘Holy Trinity’ and staffed by the De La Salle Brothers.
The need for a school for boys had been considered for a long time. In the 1950’s, Monsignor Condon had decided that the cost would be too great. His successor, Monsignor Healy, had reconsidered the idea and decided to go ahead.
Boys from Sacred Heart School in 4th, 5th, 6th Classes and lst Year enrolled at Holy Trinity in 1963. Boys in 3rd Class and 2nd and 3rd Year remained at Sacred Heart School for that year.
High School students from Sacred Heart joined Science lessons at Holy Trinity until the Sacred Heart School closed in 1978. All secondary boys attended Holy Trinity from the beginning of 1964.
A great influence on arrangements was brought about by the Wyndham Scheme. A plan for education reform, it changed the pattern of education in New South Wales.
Under the Scheme, students who had completed four years at high school could sit for the School Certificate. Students intending to go on to University had to study for two more years before sitting for the Higher School Certificate. The main effect on Catholic Schools was that they had to provide facilities to teach science.
In 1967, all secondary class girls were transferred to Holy Trinity High School. With them went some of their teachers, Srs Mary Thomas, Mary Bonaventure and Mary Christopher. Primary girls and some primary boys remained at Sacred Heart School in care of the Sisters of Mercy.
In 1967, some new rooms were built at Sacred Heart, the work carried out by Ben Wade and Co at the cost of $20,000. These rooms were situated behind 3rd Class and the store-room, adjacent to Otho Lane.
(In later years, they were removed to Holy Trinity School, to serve as rooms for Infants and for Religious Education).
A new toilet block for the school was built by Witherden and Noble in 1975.
During this year, a lot of discussion took place on the future of the several schools. It was decided that benefits would result if all classes were taught at the one site.
St Mary’s School closed at the end of 1975; its pupils enrolled at Holy Trinity to begin 1976.
Sacred Heart school continued to function while an extensive building programme was carried out at Holy Trinity.
At the end of 1978, Sacred Heart School closed. Although sixty four years of history came to a halt, no special functions appear to have been held and the event gained no mention in the local press.
At this time, the De La Salle brothers withdrew from Holy Trinity, making way for more involvement by lay teachers, and some Sisters of Mercy were transferred to other centres. Lay teachers at Sacred Heart at that date were Mrs Barbara Tidswell, Mrs Beverly Leach, Mrs Helen Hardy and Mrs Yvonne Moulds.
Auction – An advertisement stated that the Convent of Mercy was to be sold by auction in Inverell Town Hall Annex, Friday 15 December 1978. This auction evidently brought no purchaser, for the Convent property was not disposed of until some years later.
The Infants section of Holy Trinity School started in 1979, the ambition to have all pupils at the one centre had been achieved.
Sr Judith Breen was the last Principal of the Sacred Heart School. She took the last Infants pupils (Kindergarten to 3rd Class) to Holy Trinity to begin 1979.
In December of 1979, some of the Sisters left the brick Convent in Vivian Street and moved into a new modem Convent in Mather Street.
The old brick convent was vacated on 24 January 1980. The Sisters were upset at leaving the beautiful old building. Unfortunately, it was in need of a lot of repairs and was uneconomical to maintain. There were too few nuns to do the necessary work. It took about six months for the Sisters to adjust to their new surroundings.
The auction of surplus goods from the Convent created great interest and was widely attended. Large amounts of furniture and sacred objects were sold.
There is a story that a chapel statue of St Patrick was coveted by one of the Bowling Clubs for use as a gimmick at St Patrick’s Day tournaments. To prevent this happening, the Sisters presented it to the Principal of Holy Trinity School.
Extensive development was considered for the Rivers Street sites; plans were drawn up for the construction of a new Church and a new Presbytery.
To prepare the area, the Sacred Heart School buildings had to be removed; they were demolished in 1982.