Schooling in Altona
The oldest school in the Altona area is the Laverton Primary School (No. 2857) which at the request of the residents of that township was opened on 4/10/1887 in a church hall, with Elizabeth Strahan in charge of 46 pupils.
From 1888 until 1895 Ada Waldron was the teacher but enrolment declined until by 1914 19 pupils were attending. Between 1905-13 it was a practising school for trainee teachers. This original building is now a house and a new school was built on another site in 1950-51.
Any children living in Altona up to 1914 would have had to either attend the Laverton School or North Williamstown State School No. 1409.
In 1914, two weeks before the first World War was declared, the late AAr. and Mrs. L. Fleming came with their four children, aged seven years to six months, to reside in Altona (another two were born in Altona).
After the Flemings had been in Altona for seven months other families began moving into the area. As the children would have to travel miles for their education, Mr. Fleming approached the Education Department with a request for an Altona school.
He was advised that if there were 1 4 school age children and a suitable building available a school would be opened. A census of the children revealed 13 of school age. Mr. and Mrs. Fleming decided to erect a building suitable for a school. They built a 30′ x 1 1’6″ weatherboard building on their property to the Education Department’s specifications.
The contract to use the hall as a school was signed on 27/10/1915 and the first teacher, a young lady, was Miss Bayvington who boarded at the Fleming’s home.
After the first Christmas holidays a Miss Cutts took over. When in 1918 the building could no longer accommodate the growing number of children the school was moved to the Progress Hall in Blyth Street. Two teachers took charge — Mr. Mortin and his daughter. The hall was divided in two by a canvas blind erected across the centre of the building. M iss Mortin taught grades 1-3 at one end and her father grades 4-8 at the other end.
Mr. George replaced the Mortins and was in charge for a year and then followed a teacher who is still kindly thought of by his ex-pupils, Mr. Borrack.
The attendance at this time (1920-22) was about 160. Classes were now being held in the Progress Hall Mrs. Spears Tea Rooms and Davey’s A.B.C. Cafe near the pier. Miss Silk was in charge of the grades in the cafe which spent their nature study periods walking along the beach.
In the meantime the School Committee was urging the Department to erect a new school building. As Secretary of this Committee, Mr. L. Fleming, Snr., made many visits to the Department to discuss the needs of the school. After obtaining the help of John Lemmon, the then State member, who applied some political pressure, plans were put on public display in 1921 and on 28th November, 1922, the present school (No. 3923), without the later additions, was opened on the corner of Blyth and Upton Streets with five teachers and 225 students. Since 1950, the school buildings have been added to four times and a library in 1 972. The 1 973 enrolment was 595.
So School No. 3923 will remain a memorial to the early residents of the district who struggled so hard to provide adequate school buildings for their children.
Other Government schools in the area with relevant information are:
SEAHOLME (No. 4440) — Commenced as part of Altona School, July, 1929, with Miss Bourne as Head Teacher. Initial enrolment 35 in Marion Hall. Thence on own May, 1952.
Head Teacher, F. Ryan and three staff; 171 in four rooms. 1970, 440 pupils; 1973, 418 pupils.
BROOKLYN (No. 4710) — 8/9/1953 (Infant Section), Head Teacher Miss R. Howling, 146 in four rooms. 1959 peak, 744 students; 1973, 216 students (caused by Hostel closure).
ALTONA EAST (No. 4805) — 11/7/1960, C. Duffy and staff of nine, 288 in 8 rooms. Special Class 1968; 1969, 760 students; 1973, 714 students.
ALTONA GATE, No. 4825 (formerly Brooklyn West) — February, 1960. I. McArthur and seven staff, 192 students in Brooklyn (No. 4710). Special Class, 1969; 1970, 601 students; 1973, 786 students.
ALTONA WEST (No. 4862) — 6/2/1962, R. T. Rose and six staff, 202 students. Special Class 1970; 1967, 615 students; 1973, 790 students.
ALTONA NORTH (No. 4931). — February, 1965, D. J. Madden, 473 in 10 rooms. Special Class 1969; 1968, 850 students; 1973, 930 students.
Secondary (High Schools)
ALTONA — 1959 at Baptist Hall, Newport, and Scout Hall, Altona, one year, G. H. Price. Initial enrolment over 200 students. 1964 Matric.; 1973, 764 students.
ALTONA NORTH — 5/2/1960, Altona Scout Hall three months, Altona High nine months; R. McGill; 85 students, Form 1. 1963 Inter.; 1966 Matric.; 1964, 657; 1969, 906; 1973, 950.
PAISLEY — 2/2/1972 at Altona North till 14/2/1972; D. J. Collins; 143 students. First new style High School to be built in south-western suburbs; 19/3, 159 students.
TECHNICAL ALTONA NORTH — 1959 at Powell Street Primary School, Yarraville, one year; W. R. Seamer; 181 students in eight rooms. 1965 Leaving; 1963 Special Class; 1961, 552 students; 1969, 720; 1V/3, 760.
All private schools in the Altona municipality are Roman Catholic, the oldest being St. Mary’s Help of Christians which was established in 1927 when a hall was moved from Williamstown and set up in Rayner Street for a church and school. It was officially opened on 31/1/1928.
Sister M. Damien was the Principal, with Sister M. Leon assisting the teaching of 86 pupils in grades infants — 6.
In 1937 the hall was moved to its present site at the corner of Sargood and Railway Street North. During the period of removal the Sisters taught in a shop near the pier, then in the cloak rooms of the R.S.L. Hall.
By 4/10/1948, the foundation stone for the new school building had been laid and on 12/3/1950 His Grace Archbishop Mannix opened the new school. Enrolment was now 109. Two classrooms were added in 1959 and again in 1970 and the school is again contemplating further extensions as the present (1973) enrolment 365 is increasing.
Other private schools, all Roman Catholic, have been established as under;—
MOUNT ST. JOSEPH GIRLS’ COLLEGE (Secondary) — Sisters of St. Joseph, 11/2/1964; Sister M. J. Forster and four staff. Initial enrolment unknown, Forms 1-3. Matric. 1967; Enrolment 1973, 640 students.
ST. PAUL’S BOYS’ COLLEGE (Secondary) — Society of Marianists, 2/2/1965; Bro. John McCluskey and four staff; 150 to 160 students. Matric. 1969; Enrolment 1973, 850.
ST. LEO THE GREAT (Primary) — Sisters of St. Joseph, February, 1971; Sister M. Frances and three staff. 1/70 students from Prep, to Grade 4. 284 students enrolled 1973 from Prep, to Six.