Category Archives: Berowra Public

A Day Out For The Boys

Large Group
The image below comes courtesy of Allan Kember,a former Berowra resident who met up with a group of friends for a reunion in Berowra recently.
Allan shared a number of 1950’s era Berowra School photos but when it came to this photo little was known about it.A couple of the boys in the photo were identified, however neither the reason for the outing (could they be on a swimming excursion as some boys have a towel around their neck?) the location or the year could be remembered.
If you know more about when, why & where this photo was taken or perhaps the identity of the boys or the adults behind them – Please tell us.
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Living And Learning Together

Berowra Public School Upper Division 1950

Berowra Public School Upper Division 1950

We thank sisters, Pat McCready and Jill Brancourt for sharing this photo from their collection. Young Jill (Ewings) is the eight child from the left in the middle row. The teacher-in-charge standing behind his young scholars is the much admired Mr Leslie Garside.

Two sisters, Betty in the middle row and Joan in the front row are members of the Hamilton family. All seven siblings went to Berowra Public School. This Aboriginal family came down from Groote Eylandt Mission where the parents had been taken when they were children. The family was very highly regarded in the Berowra community.

Currently we are in NAIDOC Week which is celebrated around Australia in early July each year. Interestingly the acronym which stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee has become the name of the week itself rather than just a committee.

Do contact us if you can help us name some of the Upper Division of 1950!


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In Their Own Words – Growing Up In Berowra

The team at Berowra Living History is fortunate to have the opportunity to hear about (and often also read) people’s memories of living, working and growing up in Berowra. Our community, not just those living here now, but those who have moved on to other homes and communities, have wonderful memories which we love to share. The account below comes from Cheryl Jepson, who lived in Berowra in the 1950s and 1960s.

Class 2A, 1964, featuring Janita Hilda, Cheryl Sinclair, Sheryl Starling, Annette Wells, Peter Shackleton. The teacher this year was Miss Tucker

Class 2A, 1964, featuring Janita Hilda, Cheryl Sinclair, Sheryl Starling, Annette Wells, Peter Shackleton. The teacher this year was Miss Tucker

I lived in 10 Rawson Rd, which was a dirt road at that time, with my parents, sister Lynne and baby brother Stewart. Dad built a shack down the end of the road in the bush in the 1950’s. Mum did the washing in the caves where there were beautiful rock pools and waterfalls, all of which emptied into Bakers Pond. At that stage we didn’t have electricity.

My best friend Ann Richards, my sister and I were always playing in the gully all day and would return home filthy, bare-footed and scratched. Wild blackberries were abundant and we certainly helped ourselves to these fruits. There were old trams down the track which we played in – there would have been snakes everywhere. Mum didn’t know where we were half the time.

We were always carving our names in some of the trees. Down the track we found suitcases with clothes and shoes within. I think people used that area for a dumping ground. We of course used the old clothes in our cubby house.

In Rawson Rd there was a very small fibro shack on the right-hand side. (Next to the old chook farm buildings, which later burned down). There were pots of paint within the shack which we used to splash everywhere.

The bamboo grew to gigantic heights and we used these to play in, also in Rawson Rd. We had a great life and memories growing up as children in Berowra in the bush.

In 1961 I was in kindergarten and the teachers name I remember was Miss Smith. The children had to have a sleep after lunch. She used to have a tray of ‘Smiths’ chips to share with the students.

1962 was transition for 1st Class. I remember we had a social and my mother made me an outfit, created from white crepe paper. We were made up to look like cats and danced to the music of the ‘Pink Panther’.

In 1963 my teacher was Miss Douglas and I was 7 years old. (I don’t have a photo of that year). At assembly we had to sing “God Save The Queen”.

We were forced to drink 1/3 pint bottles of milk in glass bottles with the silver tops. The milk was in crates, placed in the assembly area which unfortunately was also in the sun; therefore the milk was hot and I didn’t like to drink it.

The tree behind the school photos was a great climbing tree and all the children used it for that purpose. My sister Lynne and I always walked to school, regardless of the weather. I can’t remember how far but was quite a distance for a youngster.

Class 3B of 1965. The same people are featured

Class 3B of 1965. The same people are featured

Do you have memories you would like to share? We would love to hear from you, and include your recollections and images in our archives and upcoming exhibitions.


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Berowra At War – New Exhibition

Keith Holmes as a school boy. This was the only school photo Keith remembers having taken during the War

Keith Holmes as a school boy. This was the only school photo Keith remembers having taken during the War

This week, with ANZAC Day nearly upon us, I wanted to take the time to make sure our readers had heard about our newest exhibition, Berowra At War. Although Berowra would seem to be far from the dangers of war, hidden away in our rural, bushland surroundings, fear of attack and invasion was very real for residents of Berowra. In our newest exhibition we explore some of the stories of Berowra during wartime, and share some of the recollections of our residents. The exhibition is still under development, so there will be more to come.

I wanted to share with you a taster of the exhibition though:

“We had an air raid shelter just down below the school there. The parents all dug that and we got some heavy rain and it filled up with water so they had to dig another trench right away down the side of the hill to drain the air raid shelter out. We had to practice evacuating the school and down into the trench.” – Keith Holmes

This is just one of the stories which is shared in the exhibition, so head over to The Museum Of Berowra and have a look at Berowra At War!


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A Winner – Hillcrest Poultry Farm

A request by Mr Stewart for carriage of eggs by 'Parcel Post'

A request by Mr Stewart for carriage of eggs by ‘Parcel Post’

An internationally recognised poultry breeder once resided in Berowra, occupying the vast expanse of land where Hillcrest Public School now stands.

Mr James Stewart was a well-known identity in the early days of Berowra due to his pioneering work in the development of poultry farming in this region. Mr. Stewart kept over 1000 laying White Leghorns on his property, known as Hillcrest Poultry Farm. Between the years 1911-12, Mr. Stewart entered an international competition, sending his prized birds to a wintery Vancouver, in Canada. Apparently, the Ozzie birds from Berowra triumphed laying prize-winning eggs in six inches of heavy snow, beating all the local competitors.

As early as 1906, James Stewart’s Hillcrest Poultry Farm was flourishing. No doubt, as ‘Breeders of Pure Bred Heavy Laying Strains’ they provided a sustainable living for the Stewart family as evidenced by the document shown in this blog. In this letter, Mr. Stewart requested the carriage of eggs by ‘Parcel Post’ to a wide distribution area – to all of the States in Australia and New Zealand. But can you imagine sending eggs via post? But in those days, the post office was the hub of any rural town, providing many different services such as the one described here. I wonder if Mr. Stewart managed to persuade the Deputy Postmaster General in Sydney to make Berowra a receiving office? Maybe yes – since the heavy laying hens won an international competition some five years later.

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Berowra Public School 1929

Years  1, 2 and 3 at Berowra Public School, 1929

Years 1, 2 and 3 at Berowra Public School, 1929

Early February is a special time of the year as many children and teenagers around Australia adjust to the new school year. Some learn about the realities of “big school” for the first time…

We are especially grateful to Kath Baigent for this photo. Kath, who was born in 1921 came to Australia in 1928. Here she is as the little Kathleen Heaney wearing her pinafore, on the far right of the front row in her long treasured school photo.

You will notice that there are almost double the number of girls to boys in this composite group. It would appear to be later in the year than February!

Do you recognize any of the other youngsters, perhaps a Foster and a Huett boy?

Ann Lomas

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Centenary Celebrations – 1912 to 2012

Former students of the old Berowra Public School with family and friends.

Former students of the old Berowra Public School with family and friends.

A great time was had by all on Sunday, 9th December. We celebrated the centenary of what was initially the big classroom and headmaster’s office of the old Berowra Public School and later the main room of Berowra District Hall. We remembered  a hundred years of service to our community.

Merle  Davis is reunited with the Carroll brothers.

Merle Davis is reunited with the Carroll brothers.

This image captures the surprise reunion of Merle Davis with the Carroll brothers who as youngsters had been friends of Merle and Neil Davis’s children. The children had grown up together enjoying many adventures in the Berowra bush.

Joyous  re-connections, storytelling and much laughter epitomized the day.

Shirley Collins and Elaine Foster

Shirley Collins and Elaine Foster

Shirley Collins reminisced about her time as a teacher in the old school in the fifties and Elaine Foster remembered an earlier time when she was a Year Six pupil in our historic building.

A classroom from yesteryear.

A classroom from yesteryear.

The morning of Monday 10th December was for the children of Berowra. Over 400 youngsters walked to the old school and engaged with former students: Peter Huett, Jim Hatfield, Keith Holmes and Neil Davis as they told stories from their school days. These stories were further brought to life by visiting the classroom, seen above, where Elissa and Will, from the team, were on duty. Other learning opportunities were, trying out copperplate writing with former teacher, Shirley Collins or hands on discovery with all the old farm and household objects where Isobel Harrison was in charge.

The body of the hall held further fascinating displays to explore some representing the community groups that have been part of the long history of our District Hall.

Thank you again to all who contributed to the great centenary celebration, especially to The Lions Club of Berowra, without whom the exhibition would not have been possible.

Do visit our virtual museum :  Museum of Berowra for more!


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A Diary Claimer

Berowra Public School, Classes 4, 5 and 6, 1937

On Sunday, 9th December and Monday, 10th December you are invited to join us as we celebrate the centenary of the extensions to Berowra District Hall!

More details later! Mark your diary now!

You will be able to delve a little deeper into the history of our area and view an exhibition with images of early historical documents and pictures such as the one above. We will tell the story of the original Berowra School and of our much loved old school hall which since the mid-fifties has continued to serve the community in many different ways.

Perhaps you will meet senior residents who were in these classes of 1937.   The children of this era would grow up quickly and serve their country as youths in the Second World War.

If you cannot make it to the centenary celebrations at the corner of Crowley Rd and Berowra Waters Rd, Berowra on 9th or 10th December, do celebrate with us through our blog site. We have a lot more in  store for you.


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School Photo 1926

From the Bill Foster Photograph Collection

This attentive group of 37 Berowra Public School students, gathered under the trees in 1926,no doubt represented many of the families resident in Berowra at the time.
A rough list of names appears on the photograph border (possibly done by Bill Foster himself). Most of the surnames mentioned are well known in Berowra even today.

2012 marks the Centenary of the official opening of the large classroom extension to the original Berowra Public School Building (not shown in the above photograph) and is to be celebrated.

We are gathering information about Berowra Public School – Can you help? Do you know anyone in the photograph above?


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Upcoming Centenary

Berowra Public School, Class 1, 2 & 3, 1936

7th September, 2012 marks 100 years since the official opening of the large classroom extension to the original Berowra Public School building. This special old building housed generations of primary school children and teachers till the mid-50s, when finally all the classes were relocated to Hillcrest Rd.  Now known as Berowra District Hall and cared for by the Lions Club of Berowra, it continues to welcome a wide range of teachers and students – adults and children, group meetings, flower shows and plays and more.

Take a close look at this lovely school photo available courtesy of a senior interviewee. Do you recognise any of the youngsters? Ask your friends and family if they recognise particular children.

Are they 1936 school bags on the verandah? Who is that woman in the background near the car (?)? Is she an interested passerby or a parent perhaps?

We know that in those pre-war years the staff and senior boys at Berowra’s first school were, like many others, very resourceful! Did they themselves make the form on which the back row of boys is standing? Closer inspection of the rotated image may help you to read the brand name on the box used in the carpentry class work!

We’d love to hear from you and it would be great if you had more early school photos to share with us all.


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