STATUS QUO MCMLIX
This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.
Situated in a fertile cane growing district, on the bank of the Richmond River, the Empire Vale Public school is about 518 miles north of Sydney. The Pacific Highway, which passes the school, enables the district to enjoy many amenities not usually found in country areas.
Originally. the district was known as Pimlico and an application for the establishment of a Provisional school at Pimlico was under consideration by the Minister in 1876 when 29 children from 13 families (all of whom promised to attend) were residing within two miles of the school.
The school, in charge of a Mr. Gallagher was opened in 1878 and by 1880 the enrolment was 36 pupils. This varied from 37 to 55 during the next five years and in 1886 a separate Provisional school was opened at North Pimlico. The North Pimlico School relieved children on the north side from having to cross the river to attend school and, in the following year, it was converted to a Public School.
Mrs. A. Robins, a pupil of the original school, recalls that the original building was a timber structure consisting of one room attached to the teachers' residence. Mr. Gallagher, the first teacher, was a married man, whose wife taught sewing. He was followed by Mr. Forsyth, a single man, during whose term a new brick school and residence were built on the present site, which is set further away from the river than the original site.
The opening of the new building was performed on 30th November, 1891, with 62 pupils present. Adults present remarked, in the Visitors' Book, that they were pleased to witness the opening of the new school but they considered the building to be too small. These remarks proved to be true and by 1895 the new school was suffering from growing pains to the extent that, of the 79 children attending, it was necessary for the teacher to seat 21 of the little ones in the hat room.
1895 appears to have been an historic year. The old Pimlico South name was then dropped in favour of the new name of German Greek. This name was already used for the creek which enters the river adjacent to the school.
For the next 10 years the enrolment figures gradually dropped with 30 pupils in 1903 and 34 in 1904. After this date the number probably fluctuated considerably as additions were made to the building in 1914.
During World War I, the name of German Creek fell into disfavour and in 1916 the name of the school was changed to the more patriotic Empire Vale.
The evolution of the school from this point is shown in the gradual provision of high school facilities and improved transport until we find that instead of children attending the school until they reached the leaving age of fourteen, or having to board away from home, every child now has the opportunity of attending Bllina High School daily.
1954 saw the replacement of the old residence by one situated on higher ground and in 1958 the school building was renovated.
At present, the school is furnished with chairs and tables while the interior has been plastered and painted in modem style. A strong P. and C. Association has done much to provide additional equipment for the school as well as carrying out playground improvements.
Empire Vale School now serves an area of approximately 16 square miles and, of the 39 children in attendance, many travel by bus from the more distant portions of the district.
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