Jerilderie Public School — which is in the top three per cent of the oldest public schools in NSW still operating, and the 12th oldest public school in the Riverina — will be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019.
The Jerilderie P&C organising committee is in the process of planning celebrations for this monumental milestone, and are eager to hear from former teachers, students, and residents who would be interested in putting pen to paper and describing their memories of their time in Jerilderie or at the school.
In efforts to stimulate interest in prospective contributors, a former student’s letter published to commemorate the school’s centenary celebrations in 1969 is reproduced here:
I started school in 1906 under Mr Richards as Headmaster.
I completed my education here at Jerilderie Public School.
In those days the school boasted two teachers and two classrooms.
Two of the teachers I can remember (were) Miss Bolton and Miss Weatherall.
Mr Richards’ successor was Mr Bill Steinbeck – during his term there were considerable improvements to the school.
These included the removal of the original tiered desks and the installation of dual desks.
A former Headmaster – Mr Elliott (before my time) was able to recount his experience of the ‘Kelly Raid’ to me.
One of the greatest days in the history of Jerilderie, and which now comes to my mind, is the day Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in his famous ‘Southern Cross’ landed in Jerilderie.
Locals were taken for rides in the plane and I had the privilege of sitting in the co-pilot’s seat during a trip, and at one stage taking controls of the plane.
This same monoplane is today at Brisbane Airport.
Except for a short period in the late 1920s when he went away to gain his pilot’s licence (No. 272, issued in 1930), Valentine Chapman lived in Jerilderie all his working life.
Val succeeded his father as manager of the local council’s water supply and electricity supply, in 1937.
In 1948 he became Jerilderie Shire’s manager for distribution of the electricity supply which, from that time was purchased from Victoria, a time which also heralded the start of electricity connections to rural properties.
Jerilderie Shire was incorporated into the Murray River County Council in 1958 with Val appointed manager of the Jerilderie branch, a position he occupied until his retirement in 1970.
Val continued to manage the Jerilderie Shire Council’s water supply until 1979.
He died in Deniliquin in 1988 and was buried in the Deniliquin Cemetery, but in 1995 Val’s family had his body disinterred and reburied in the Jerilderie cemetery.
As a side issue in relation to the history of electricity supply in Jerilderie; a former ‘special’ student of the Jerilderie Public School, during the period William Elliott was the Schoolmaster, Edward Edwin Brett was to later commence the first electric supply in Jerilderie, in 1918, which was a private operation for his Royal Hotel (now the Colony Hotel).
Brett gradually extended his supply lines to allow connections to other households and businesses along the route, and so electric light and power to Jerilderie households and businesses will shortly be celebrating their centenary of ‘‘switching on’’.
~ Contributed by Laurie Henery