Eve Langley’s old school

Walking down Albert St in Brunswick yesterday, I noticed some text painted neatly on a wall on the edge of Little Randazzo park.

‘The Secretary, Education Dept. Melbourne, School 1213 Brunswick Oct. 28 1889. Sir, I beg to report that the school bell is out of order. The contractor who has just finished the new classrooms repaired the rope last week, but it broke again the following day. I should be glad if it could be properly placed in order, as it is very awkward without it. I have the honour to be Sir your most obedient Servant. H. Teacher. [Signature]’

Quotation painted on a wall at Little Randazzo park

This letter from the head teacher of the Brunswick Central State School is a clue to its prior existence – and problems with the school bell. At the age of thirteen, the writer Eve Langley left her beloved rural Crossoverschool and moved with her family to Brunswick where her uncle Ely lived. At that time it was a semi-industrial working class suburb of about forty thousand people. Coming from a one roomed school with twelve pupils, Eve and her sister found themselves in classes of two hundred, far more children than they had ever seen (48-49).

In her notebooks she wrote:

‘It was a huge dull red blue black place, roaring with children […] It was terrible. I felt lonely. I missed the small schoolroom at Crossover […] The change of scenery was dreadful. The godlike faerie existence we had led at the Crossover, was gone, there was only hot asphalt, the dingy fly-spotted shops […] and the sad dull company of city children’ (Thwaite 26).

This experience effectively marked the end of her learning. The family spent less than a year there before leaving on 3 May 1918.  In 1996, the Brunswick Central School amalgamated with the Brunswick East School and the building was demolished to make way for new housing. The rough location can be pinpointed by its proximity to the Salvation Army building which still exists

Salvation Army citadel, Albert St, Brunswick

‘Brunswick Primary School Then and Now’, Learning from the Past website: http://learningfromthepast.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Brunswick-Primary-School-Then-and-Now.pdf

Joy L. Thwaite, The importance of being Eve Langley, North Ryde, N.S.W. : Angus & Robertson, 1989.

HMM. Vines, ‘The secret life of us : Eve Langley and her family’, PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, 2008.