In this 1891 Government printing Office map of the Village of Berowra the trig station ‘Poppy’ is clearly noted and visible by the triangular mark just above the village boundary line.
Trig(Trigonometrical) Stations were established on prominent locations where they were very visible. They are part of a network that was vital to accurate land surveying and mapping.
‘Poppy’ was the Berowra Trig and located near the corner of Hillcrest Road and Berowra Waters Road. A farm owned by the Stewart family occupied the surrounding land before the Berowra Public School re located there in the 1950’s.
Berowralivinghistory has been told students can remember the trig, in that corner of the schoolyard and having lessons related to it. There is now a school hall covering the actual site of trig “Poppy’ and it is recorded as destroyed. It was replaced by Berowra Res which sits atop the water resevoir on Berowra Waters Road.
We have been unsuccessful in obtaining any photos of ‘Poppy’ to date. Maybe older school records will reveal something soon. Can you help? Does your family have a photo that includes ‘Poppy’?
Like today, in years gone by many children in Berowra and the surrounding area left the immediate suburb to attend school. In the mid 20th century, one school available to local families was the Mount Colah Grammar School which was once located near Mount Colah Station. The Grammar School was originally located in Berowra itself, but moved to Mt Colah where it shared the land with St George Church Of England. You can read a little about the Grammar School during it’s Berowra years here.
Beverley Gibbons attended the school at Mount Colah from the age of ten and recalls:
The Mount Colah Grammar School was a Church of England School run by Mr and Mrs Sidwell. Some people called it Sidwell’s School. All of the buildings were made of fibro, including the little Church which we went to every morning. I remember lining up outside the Church for my first funeral.
It wasn’t a big school. The house which is left is where the Sidwell’s lived and also where Mrs Sidwell taught kindergarten. She had a little Pekinese dog which she used to carry around with her – it yapped and yapped, but she loved it. Mr Sidwell taught the older children in another big building which was nearby – it might have had two rooms. He took classes from 3rd or 4th I think, right through to high school (which was three years then).
We had a school uniform and I remember for the girls it was a brown serge tunic with box pleats and a belt. We wore a white shirt underneath and also a green tie. In later years, for Summer, there was a bone frock with green buttons. We wore felt hats in Winter and in Summer we had straw panama hats.
There was quite a lot of land, and it sloped down at the back into the gully. We had a playing field down there, but there were also a lot of caves, which were very deep.
The school ran for at least 20 years I think, and closed down perhaps in the late 1950s or early 1960s. I think it closed when one of the Sidwells died.
Does anybody remember attending this school, or know of local children who attended? Leave us a comment!
Sadly, nobody has yet taken on our October Mystery, and instead of fully solving the matter, we have decided to offer just a teaser in hopes of coaxing some of our readers to share their memories.
Mt Colah Grammar School was once in the area of a charming, if now rather ramshackle house on the Pacific Highway near Mount Colah Station. Presumably the rundown house was used as one of the school buildings. The house, and the land once occupied by the school is now fenced off, and for many living in the area, the unused and seemingly unloved land has been a mystery in and of itself.
Do you have any memories of this home, or any information to share about Mount Colah Grammar School?
Images courtesy of Google Maps.
This week, Berowra Living History is sharing a mystery object of a slightly different kind. The image above shows a school badge which was kindly shared with us by B. Gibbons. The school in question was Mt Colah Grammar School.
Now, to the mystery. Do you know where this school was? Do you remember it? Did you perhaps attend (we are assured by the owner of the item that people from Berowra, Cowan and even Brooklyn attended!)
We’d love to hear your memories!
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!
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?