Ballina & Richmond River GenWeb
BROOKLET PUBLIC SCHOOL, 1887-1959
Brooklet School was one of the first small schools established in what was then known locally as the "Big Scrub" in 1887. It is situated 15 miles north of Ballina, 6 miles south of Bangalow and 2 miles from the Pacific Highway.
Brooklet School was first known as Friday Hut Provisional School. Friday Hut Road divided the present school site in half before it was diverted around the school block. The road is believed to have been so named because of a hut which was built at Brooklet and was used by the local people as a place where goods were left for delivery and sale, and where provisions were left to be picked up. This hut, according to old residents, was built on a Friday, burnt down on a Friday, rebuilt on a Friday, and goods were delivered on a Friday, hence "Friday Hut Road".
The first official use of the name Brooklet School is found in 1892, when the new school was opened. Friday Hut School was built by the parents and citizens of the area in 1887. These citizens carried out the falling of the scrub, burning off and clearing of the area. The building was constructed by Mt T Pearce and Mr C Morris. It was made of upright slab walls of boards 1 to 2 feet wide, through which daylight could be seen in many places. The roof was of iron and the floor of adzed boards. The usual old-fashioned long forms and seats made up the furniture. At a later date this building was slightly enlarged.
In 1892 the present larger brick school and a residence was constructed. The school measures 27 feet by 20 feet and has a 14 foot ceiling. It has an 8 foot verandah on the northern side.
The land for the school was dedicated by grant in two pieces. In July 1888, 2 acres, and in January 1889, 8 additional acres were dedicated for school purposes.
The original school opened with an enrolment of 15 boys and 7 girls. Children were of all ages from 6 to 13 years. The need for a school in the district was seen by the fact that no child enrolled was placed in a class above second. Addresses of children included Teven, Newrybar, Byron Creek and Skinners Creek.
In 1912 bunya-bunya pines, Moreton Bay figs and camphor laurels were planted on three sides of the playground. These flourished immediately in the rich soil and they are still to be admired. The bunya-bunya pines have now reached so great a height that they have suffered severely during recent cyclones.
Brooklet reached its maximum enrolment in the year 1901 when 54 pupils were on the roll. The present enrolment is 17 pupils.
Early settlers had to put up with the hardships of all pioneers. Most of the roads to the school by which the children came, were about two feet wide, just wide enough for a horse and rider, and no sky could be seen through the thick growth above.
One early comment in the visitors' book is typical when it was pointed out that the school grounds needed further cleaning because of the prevalence and danger of snakes.
Brooklet village at its height of prosperity, besides the school residence, consisted of a butter factory (closed when transport of cream became easier), a post office (since closed), a blacksmith's shop, several residences and a hall (later burnt down). A tennis court was built on the hall site.
During its lifetime Brooklet School has had 15 teachers: Mr Yansen, 1887-89; Miss Everingham, 1890-91; Mr Rouel, 1891-93; G H Daniel, 1893-99; Mr L Johnston, 1900-04; A McLachlan, 1904-11; A N Northcott, 1911; H H Bowd, 1911-16; E T Evetts, 1916-17; P H Ford, 1917-23; F W Webber, 1924-36; S T Taylor, 1936-48; Mr S Smith, 1948; L J Yabsley, 1949-57; C A Walsh, 1958-59.
The first inspector of the school was mR McLelland from 1887-92. Inspection in 1893 was carried out by that great educationalist, Mr P Board.
People of the district have always appreciated and shown their interest in the school, which plays a major role in the district. An active P & C has functioned for many years, and has provided practical help by supplying books, encyclopaedias, pictures, radio, pick-up and microphone, strip projector and playground tables and chairs, as well as ground cleaning and mowing at regular intervals. All teachers appreciate and depend on the loyal support.
Present office bearers at Brooklet are Mr A D Roberts, president; Mrs C Rice, secretary; Mr C Leeson, treasurer.
A "Back to Brooklet" Day was held in 1955 when over 200 former pupils were present, including the first child enrolled in 1887.
School history kindly supplied by Kathy Pearson.
Source: the publication STATUS QUO MCMLIX; presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.