The case of the missing school records: State School 4156
The many children of the lock workers at Lock 9 and Lock 7 were educated at specially provided schools on site, as was the case at the other lock sites. The peculiarity of these schools is that they were set up for the children of a largely South Australian workforce, but in Victoria. The school records which would provide insightful data for my research have not been found, either at the Public Records Office in Melbourne, where they should rightly be or at State Records South Australia. Do YOU know where they are? Could they be in a box in a shed or back room at your house?
From January 30 1923, School No. 5161 was staffed at Lock 9 River Murray by the Victorian Education Department. Mr Arthur Burgess was the first teacher. The school remained open for the duration of the lock construction at that site until August 1926 when the building was dismantled and transferred to the site of Lock 4 construction in South Australia. The head teacher at the time of closure received instructions from the Education Department of Victoria to communicate with the Head Teachers of the Werrimull and Lake Cullulleraine schools and advise them of the equipment in the school which would not be required when the school was closed. The equipment, it was suggested, could be divided between these two schools.
On February 21 1927, it was officially announced that School 4156 No. 9 Lock, Murray River was closed. While the students then continued their education at the Lock 4 school, School No. 4156 was later ‘re-incarnated’ at the site of Lock 7, from January 1930. Once more, construction was taking place on Victorian soil, or at least the camp of the workers and their families was on Victorian soil! Construction of course was taking place in the River!
When the lock building was completed at Lock 7 at the end of 1934, the teachers were again advised to pack up the materials. The Head Teacher was informed that the departmental books received by him for State School 4156, Lock 7, were to be forwarded to the store. He was given detailed instructions for the books to be packed in a box. The maps then, should be carefully tied together and covered with hessian and rolled in a bundle. These should be consigned to the Education Furniture Depot 459 Lygon Street Carlton.
If you know someone who attended either of these schools during this period, or who taught at them or any of the other temporary schools at the lock construction sites, please contact me.