The short history of the Angustown School near Whroo, Victoria.
After moving frequently about the Corop and Echuca districts early in their marriage, Edward and Sophia Gorey settled at Angustown near Whroo in 1889.
A list provided to the Education Department about 1890 shows that four children of Edward Gorey were attending the recently opened Angustown State School. These would have been Charles, Elizabeth, William and Michael.
The school had a total enrolment of 23 students including four children of Daniel Gorey, probably Francis, James, Emma and John.
A map on the school building file at the Public Record Office shows the school was 1.5 miles from Edward Gorey's residence. The school was located near Reedy Lake and close to a sawmill operated by local entrepreneur Angus Cameron, who gave the district its name.
The school was placed there at the request of Mr Cameron. The families of the men he employed had 40 children, so he asked that a school be provided for them.
A report by inspector Samuel Ware dated December 28, 1888 describes most of the parents as working at Cameron's mill plus "two have small selections near the sawmill, but they depend for their livelihood on it". This possibly refers to Edward and Daniel Gorey. Mr Ware remarked that the settlement was "not likely to be permanent".
He wrote that 12 children of school age lived within two miles of the school, with 12 others being aged between three and six.
Mr Ware said the children of the district would be unable to attend other schools. Whroo was six miles distant. The nearest school, Bailieston, was 3.5 miles away in a straight line without roads and the "intervening space is often flooded".
The inspector recommended against purchasing a site for the proposed school at Angustown, and noted that Mr Cameron had promised to erect a suitable building.
The department agreed if accommodation could be found for the teacher. It paid Cameron one shilling a year rent for the land on which the school, originally known as Bailieston North, was built. The school opened on May 16, 1889 with Elizabeth Moss as head teacher. Its average attendance that year was 18.
In June 1889, inspector Dean reported:
"The building has been erected by the residents. It is constructed of hardwood, with the exception of the floor. It has no ceiling and is not lined. No fireplace or chimney has been built, and as the winter threatens to be a severe one, I recommend that an iron chimney be sent at once. I think Mr A. Cameron will undertake to put it up at once.
"The outoffices (supplied by the department) have not yet been put up. The teacher informed me that they were delivered on the 12th and that the person who delivered them promised to return very soon and put them up.
"Since the 12th the Goulburn has been very high and probably this has prevented the carrier from returning. A tank has also to be delivered."
In 1899 the only child of Edward and Sophia Gorey attending the school was Edward, then aged 10, although James (aged four) was listed as likely to attend in the "immediate future".
Daniel Gorey's children Clara, Bennie and Willie were listed on the pupil register for that year, with Edith (aged five) expected to attend soon.
A 1900 inventory of property shows such items as: An infantry drill, manual of health and temperance, one chart of common birds of Victoria, an alphabet register and corporal punishment register. Books included school readers, a Moral Lesson and Empire History. There were maps of the world, Victoria (very damaged), Europe, Australasia and a war map of South Africa. There was a physics primer, easel, stove and two blackboards.
By March 1902 the school's condition had deteriorated and the department had little interest in maintaining it given declining enrolments.
A letter from the teacher, M. Barrie, dated March 10, 1902 said that when she returned after the Christmas break she found the water tank to be poisoned (a dead bird being the cause). Someone had removed the pipe to get water because the tap was in the schoolroom.
"I had to go to the expense of having it emptied," Miss Barrie wrote.
She was advised the expense would have to be paid for out of her maintenance allowance, which she disputed.
Her complaints continued on September 12, 1902 when she wrote:
"I wish to say that the building is a very poor one. In winter it is very cold and in the summer very hot. At all times very draughty. If it were lined with weatherboards and a fireplace put in it would be very comfortable.
"It is almost impossible to keep it clean and all the pictures are spoilt either with the rain, or the smoke from the stove. In my opinion it would cost a great deal to put in proper order."
According to a report by Miss Barrie dated September 12, 1902, James Daniel was then the only Gorey child attending Angustown school. His brothers and sisters had all grown up and left school and his cousins had moved to Western Australia.
James would have continued his education at Whroo when the Angustown school closed in 1903. His father moved to Whroo about this time.
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