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Chermside State School - a history lesson

The Original Downfall Creek (Chermside in 1903) State School 1900

The school was built on two hectares (five acres) of land on the corner of Gympie and Rode Roads where the Uniting Church now stands.

There were two teachers, James Youatt, the Head Teacher and Florence Louisa Hack, Assistant, with Herbert Gold Youatt, Pupil Teacher and son of the Head Teacher.

They started with about 50 pupils and by the end of the first year there were 90 pupils.

The building was one large room with front and back verandas which were partly enclosed with lattice. When the number of pupils became too great for the classroom they were taught on the verandas. This building was state of the art in 1900; it even had a roof ventilator with a fan to draw up the hot air.

Steady Growth

The number of pupils grew slowly but confusion reigned as the Head Teacher had one roll count and the local Inspector had a smaller but more accurate count. The Inspector's count was used to estimate what was needed in terms of teachers, buildings and goods. By 1934 the Head Teacher's count was 248 pupils while the Inspector could only find 192. The difference was known as the 'ghost pupils' and they persisted until the late 1960s. Building of extra classrooms was keeping pace with the extra pupils.

This photo was taken no later than 1906 because the high set windows on the side were altered at a cost of 21 pounds ($42) that year. There were three teachers and between 128 and 171 pupils!

Post-World War II Peak & Closure

With the end of the war and the arrival of the trams in Chermside the rate of house building increased dramatically, as did the population. The school added classrooms in a race to provide space for the influx of pupils. The peak year was 1959 when the two counts revealed 897 and 801 pupils taught by 19 teachers. The 'ghost pupils' were still around.

In 1960 the steady decline set in and by 1996 there were only 25 half-time pupils in the Preschool, which started in 1973, and 60 pupils in Primary. By this time there were no 'ghost pupils' and the figures showed that the school was no longer economically viable because there was plenty of room in neighbouring schools.

By 1996 the old building facing Gympie Road had two extensions projecting out on each side towards Gympie Road with more buildings behind stretching towards Henry Street.

Gift to Chermside Community and Removal

When the Uniting Church bought the block on which the school stood they did not want to demolish the original building so offered it to the people of Chermside. The Chermside & Districts Historical Society was formed partly to take care of the building. The Chermside Historical Precinct, surrounding the Voyager Craft Centre, was dedicated by the Brisbane City Council and Kedron-Wavell Social Club .

The next step was to cut the old school building in two and remove each half to the new site beside the Kedron-Wavell Hockey Fields.

The meeting room, or eastern side, of the old school loaded on the trailer and about to go to the new site.

Resiting of the Old School

The two halves were rejoined and put on high posts at the Chermside Historical Precinct. However, since it was to be a public hall it had to have disabled access and that meant a lift would need to be installed. The cost was far too high so the building was lowered and a ramp installed.

The work was financed by the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland State Government and the Brisbane City Council. The work was carried out by the Community Jobs Program of the Queensland Government.

The first Monthly meeting of the Society was held in the newly refurbished building on the first Sunday in November 2001. On 11th November a Remembrance Day Ceremony was held followed by the Official Opening of the Chermside Historical Precinct and the CDHS Rooms by the then Lord Mayor Jim Soorley.

The final siting of the old school now the headquarters of the Chermside & Districts Historical Society Inc. The roof had to be renewed and protective cages installed on all the windows, most of which had been smashed soon after arrival. The lattice on the back veranda was stripped by vandals and had to be replaced with steel mesh but the front veranda was left open. This causes problems as it is used regularly by unwelcome night-time visitors.