In November 1838, the first sale of town allotments in Scone occurred. The land was located in Kingdon Street, between Hill and Wingen Streets. It was planned that Kingdon Street would be the main street of the new village of Scone. The Bishop of Australia, William Grant Broughton, successfully bid for three lots on the comer of Hill and Kingdon Streets on which to build the school.
The building of St Luke’s Church was completed in October 1840, and it was furnished over the next two years. The decision to erect the school was made on 24 October, 1844.
A meeting was held on 20 March, 1845. So keen was the village to have a school that William Dumaresq offered his cottage in Liverpool Street for use as a schoolhouse. His enthusiasm was such that he paid for the foundations to be laid and for the construction of brick works up to window level.
When the first appointed schoolmaster failed to take up his duties, Mr William Jones was selected for the position. Mr Jones also agreed to act as the church clerk and sexton. His salary was thirty pounds ($60) per year. His moving expenses to Scone were also reimbursed. The School fees were 1/- (10 cents) per week for each pupil. The Board of Denominational Schools paid a small supplement, and Jones was expected to run the school on this combined amount.
St Luke’s Church was consecrated on 5 October, 1845. William Jones commenced the first class of St Luke’s School on 4 December, 1845. As only the foundations of the schoolhouse had been laid, the school commenced in William Dumaresq’s cottage, located between the existing Public Primary School and Campbell’s Garage in Liverpool Street.
Work continued on St Luke’s School and, although it was not finished, the Jones family moved into their four-room residence on 23 October, 1846. Classes commenced in the classroom, which was 25 foot long. William Jones also commenced teaching Sunday school at Luke’s first Sunday School.
A bell, given to the school by Mr John Bingle, was set up in the churchyard. The Schoolhouse and residence were completed in 1847. The building cost exceeded the estimates and an unsuccessful application was made to the diocese for assistance. Mr James Smith, who also acted as lay reader at St Luke’s Church, became Headmaster when Mr Jones left at the end of October 1847. Even in the very early days, principals had to be versatile. Mr Smith also took on duties of preacher when the Rector resigned due to ill health. The new rector, Reverend Canon Coles Child, arrived in Scone in March 1853.
It was about this time that St Luke’s school was fitted with proper desks and forms. One wonders what they did before then!
In 1853 Scone officially became one village, taking in Redbank and St Aubins. The only church and school to cater for the 180 residents was now St Luke’s. An assistant master, Mr Thomas Creamer, was employed, but he died suddenly on 27 May, not long after Mr Smith had resigned (to become Clerk of Petty Sessions). Canon Child had no hesitation in appointing Mrs Creamer as headmistress of the school. It was at this time (around 1855) that Canon Child, encouraged by the success of St Luke’s school, tried to establish church schools at Aberdeen, Blandford and Thornthwaite.
The local church society gave the school 1 pound, ($2) to purchase a prize for the most proficient girl and boy in Geography and Maths. The 1st recorded prizewinners were Henry Fredericks and Mary Ann Evans.
In 1857 a School/Church and residence were built at Blandford. Mrs Creamer retired from St Luke’s school. Mr David Scott replaced her while inquiries were made for teachers in England. This resulted in an English couple, Mr and Mrs Ledger, coming to Scone.
In September 1861, at a time when proposals were being considered to build another room onto the school, the schoolmaster, Mr Ledger, died. Mrs Ledger carried on with the assistance of a pupil teacher, John Cole.
In 1862, Canon Child started a School Savings Bank at St Luke’s School. Early in 1863 a new classroom was opened. It was slightly larger than the original room and had a veranda along the south side.
A National School with 23 pupils was opened in the Presbyterian Church on 23 November, 1863. At the same time, St Luke’s School had 70 pupils spread over six classes. The following year, the Aberdeen Church School closed when a state school was established.
1868 saw the establishment of Mrs Coombes’ Girls’ School. It was to continue for 15 years on the corner of Guernsey and Kingdon Streets. By 1870, Scone’s population had reached 500. The three schools (with St Luke’s being the largest) continued to cater for the towns’ children. Mrs Ledger returned to England in 1870 and was replaced by Mr E B Cragg.
On the 31 October, 1872, after nine years the National School closed, leaving St Luke’s and Mrs Coombes’ School for Girls, the only schools in town.
In 1874, a church and school were established at Park (now known as Parkville). At the end of 1875, Mr A A Roberts replaced Mr E B Cragg, and efforts were again made to build a State School in Scone.
In 1876, a church and school were built at Rouchel. In the same year, Mr Roberts resigned from St Luke’s School when he was appointed headmaster of the new State School.
St Luke’s School closed, after the school board decided not to replace Mr Roberts. The rector, Reverend John Shaw, believed that the opportunity for him to teach Religious Studies at the State School was satisfactory. The school was used as a church during this period while the former church was dismantled and rebuilt. Park School closed in 1886.
Reverend Alfred Thomas (Rector of Scone from 1878 to 1895) had sought for several years to have a secondary school established in Scone. In 1886 William Blomfield Pulling (then the assistant master at Kings school, Rochester) came to Scone to investigate the idea. In May 1887, it was decided to lease the old school to Pulling. On July 18, Scone Grammar School commenced its first term. Scone must have been booming because the building of a convent school in Scone commenced shortly thereafter.
Mr Pulling brought his brother Lee to Scone to help with the school, which now had 17 students, 11 of whom were boarders. Mr Pulling then added the Tower and another large room to the existing building and was granted a 16-year lease in exchange for carrying out further improvements to the school. Sadly, on October 30, 1894 Mr Pulling collapsed and died in the classroom, aged 34. The assistant master, William Henty Walker, led the school until the new headmaster, Mr C W Rock, arrived in 1895.
In addition to his scholastic brilliance, Mr Rock was considered to be the best amateur cricketer in England at the time he left to come to Scone. Aided by Dr Scott, a former captain of the Australian cricket team, he formed the Robertson (now Upper Hunter) Cricket Association.
Only two years later, in 1897, Mr Rock was appointed headmaster of Newcastle Grammar School and his position at Scone went to Miss Kathleen Allanby who, history has it, increased both the standard of the school and the number of pupils. Miss Allanby retired in 1906 and The Reverend C Newton Mell became headmaster. The Grammar School was flourishing, as were the other schools – the Public School, St Mary’s Convent School and Miss Asser’s Penshurst College. Interestingly, schools were also operating at Parkville, Wingen, Kars Springs, Tooligan, Bunnan and Hazelmere.
In July of 1913 The Reverend Mell accepted the post of Stanton Chaplain and Mr A T Dickinson then became headmaster. The Grammar School was forced to close in June of 1917, when Mr Dickson enlisted. Miss Tollis, Mr Dickson’s sister, continued to live in the residence and provided accommodation for out-of-town pupils who were now attending the Scone Public School that had opened classes in Year 7 and 8.
The bell from the Grammar School was presented to Owens Gap Church. Thus began a long period of relative inactivity and by 1971, as the church finances continued to deteriorate, and every church in the parish was in need of repairs, the Grammar School was put up for sale at the ridiculous price of $4,500!
In September 1987, Reverend Paul Robertson learnt that the former Scone Grammar School building was being offered for sale. A public meeting was held in the Parish Centre on 10 February, 1988. Support was great at this meeting and it was estimated that 150 potential students would enrol if the school were re-established. The property was purchased for $250 000, with money donated by the parishioners of St Luke’s Parish. The foremost contributors were Clive and Audrey McMullin, whose generosity was so great that the school was purchased for cash.
When the School reopened in 1990, the Headmaster, The Reverend Chris Bullock, was keen to have the original school bell in its rightful place. It took a while to locate it – I believe at one time there was even talk of removing the spire of the church tower to retrieve it! Finally, research (including the use of past copies of the Scone Advocate) revealed that the bell and its wooden tower had indeed been presented to Owens Gap Church. Mr Albert Pike from Owens Gap subsequently presented the bell back to Scone Grammar School.
To be continued…
Thank you to Mr. H. Willey for his research in producing this document.