[This post was originally published on the Cultural Collections blog site on
Mayfield East Public School celebrates its 150th Anniversary year in 2008. To assist staff, current and former students and members of the community in those celebrations Cultural Collections in the Auchmuty Library of the University of Newcastle has prepared the following online historical items recently donated to the University’s archival collections. They form a substantial portion of records relating to the establishment of one of this region’s oldest schools.
Please note that in the following printed accounts many references are made to Mayfield’s first settler John Laurio Platt and the often repeated account of his house burning down and the death of his two children in that house fire. This is incorrect. Platt’s children were killed in a bushfire. Please read the authoritative account on the Mayfield Website – John Laurio Platt (1782-1836)
We would also like to thank NSW State Archives & Records for their kind permission for us to digitise and publish online some of the materials relating to the history of Mayfield East Public School. It is greatly appreciated.
Gionni Di Gravio
University of Newcastle, Australia
See the Letter to the Editor from Ms Peyton Gaffney on behalf of the students of Class 3/4P in the Newcastle Herald 17 May 2008 p.23:
1st July 2008 Update
I had a great phone call this morning. At a ceremony held yesterday at the Ervin Gallery in Sydney the Mayfield East Public School (represented by the children of Class 3/4 P) won their section of the National Trust Schools Competition 2008.
The children created a replica of their original school house from the 1850s, and explored historical identities such as the late Daniel F. Cooksey, who reported on aboriginal artefacts on the site of the school in 1925.
The kids were very excited and chased down the original artefacts held in the Australian Museum and invited Dr Stan Florek to bring the artefacts along to their school for a ‘Show and Tell’. They even tracked down two of Cooksey’s grandsons and invited one, Mr Ian Cooksey, to speak to them as well, along with a former academic in the University’s French Department, Col Whitehead, who has a great interest in aboriginal stone artefacts and had made copies of Cooksey’s reports in the 1980s.
They have entered the competition many times before and this is the first time they have won. So, we are all so proud of them. According to Mrs Vera Deacon, a former student who attended the school in the 1920s, and who also accompanied them yesterday, they are classed as a disadvantaged school and so, competing against 400 private and church schools ‘funded to the hilt’, it’s such a fantastic achievement for them.
From the Newcastle Herald:
“Students take top honours”
IN a week of horrible news with children being neglected, molested, gassed and apparently killed by their own flesh and blood; two pollies involved in a police investigation; the coal industry champing at the bit to redouble its capacity to damage the planet’s climate; our politicians either incapable or unable to create a renewable energy revolution like the Spaniards, Germans or the British; our transport systems in chaos; our King Edward Park rotunda vandalised along with other parts of the city and scribbled all over; and the world poised for an economic recession, you might understand my great joy at learning on Tuesday that Class 3/4P at Mayfield East Public School (at a ceremony at the Ervin Gallery in Sydney) won their section of the National Trust Schools Competition 2008 against 400 competitors.
It felt like the Knights had won another premiership.
I am so happy and proud of them.
Get behind them Newcastle.
Gionni Di Gravio
Mayfield, July 2
19th September 2008
Mayfield East 150th – Interview on ABC1233 Radio Newcastle
ABC1233 Link no longer active
13th November 2008
We are delighted that Ms Sue Prior, teacher of the Mayfield East 3/4P Class that won the National Trust Heritage Award, was herself recognised with a Newcastle Civic Award at a ceremony in the Art Gallery.
MAYFIELD EAST PUBLIC SCHOOL – HISTORICAL RESEARCH PAPERS
COMPILED BY MS JEAN GRAHAM FOR 125th ANNIVERSARY BOOKLET.
Conduit: Mr Warwick Beard, Principal, Mayfield East Public School.
Date Donated: 25 September 2007.
Date Accessioned: 26-28 September 2007.
Mayfield East Public School was established on the 1 July 1858. It was also known as ‘The Folly School’ and ‘Waratah Public School’ up until 1912. It is not to be confused with the Hanbury School which opened in 1864 and also known as ‘Waratah’. The confusion forced the name change of both schools to ‘Mayfield Public School’ and ‘Waratah Public School’ respectively. On 9 August 1923 its name again changed to ‘Mayfield East Public School’ after Mayfield West opened.
In 1983, Ms Jean Graham a former Principal at the School conducted research into the records of the N.S.W. State Archives concerning the Mayfield East Public School in preparation for a 125th Anniversary commemorative booklet. The files consulted, and documented in item A6595 (iv) below, were: National Board of Education 1/399 to 1/429; Schools files – 5/18019, 5/16798 A, B and C, 5/16799 A, B and C, 5/16800 A, B and C.
In addition, various local publications and written accounts by Mayfield identities were also consulted. Further material relating to the History of Mayfield can be accessed on the Mayfield Website.
A6594 (i) Correspondence and papers relating to 125th Anniversary celebrations, May-September 1983. Includes copy of “Tighes Hill Public School Centenary of Education 1878-1978” Commemorative Booklet, 1978.
A6594 (ii) [Class Magazine] 6B Class Projects Mayfield East Public School 1962. Written and illustrated by the pupils. Donated by Mr. John B. Brown 19 April 1977.
A6594 (iii) Mayfield East Public School – Lists of Teachers 1858-1977.
A6594 (iv) ‘The Folly’ School Magazine, 1986-1995, 1997.
A6594 (v) Folder containing various copies of maps and plans drawings, 1978-1990s.
A6594 (vi) Collection of colour slides of various iron and steel making processes at the BHP Steelworks, Port Waratah. c.1980s?
A6594 (vi) Copy of “The Waratah” Waratah High School Magazine, 1977.
A6594 (vii) Student Essays ‘Lost in the Rainforest’ and ‘Dear Mr. Woody Please! Footsie the Frog’ c.1970s?
A6595 (i) Photographic copies of plan drawings held at NSW State Records, c.1917.
A6595 (ii) Folder containing copies of Application for the Establishment of a Non-Vested National School and related correspondence [ in photographic and xerox formats] 1858-1860.
A6595 (iii) Unexpurgated History of Mayfield East Public School and related documents and papers, 1872-1983. – This file contains the early drafts of 1983 commemorative booklet as well as various histories of Mayfield and material relating to Mayfield Public School. The early drafts are particularly useful as they contain helpful references and footnotes.
- Unexpurgated History of Mayfield East Public School
- History of Mayfield East Public School – Draft 1a
- History of Mayfield East Public School – Draft 1b
- History of Mayfield East Public School – Draft 2
- History of Mayfield East Public School – Draft 3
- Waratah – Extract from “The Newcastle Directory and Almanac for the year 1880″
- Department of Education – Mayfield Public School – 26 August 1920
- Extract from Health Inspector’s Report 15th November 1921
- “Waratah and the Original Grants” by T.A. Braye (1936) (Courtesy Newcastle & Hunter District Historical Society)
- The Early Days by W.J. Goold
- The History of the Folly from J.F. Crebert’s Memoirs – Handwritten in 1936
- Mayfield East Public School – 18th June 1937
- The early days of Mayfield – Extracts from the Souvenir Booklet “Jubilee Celebrations” 1950
- “The Development of State Aided Education in Newcastle 1858-1880″ by Dr. E.J. Braggett (1968) (Courtesy Journal of Royal Australian Historical Society)
- Salute to Mayfield – Radio Station 2HD radio Broadcast October 1980
- A6595 (iv) ‘Notes for Anniversary Booklet from N.S.W. Archives’ [Notebook]
- A6595 (v) Copy of Mayfield East Public School 125 Years of Education 1858-1983 Souvenir Booklet, 1983 Compiled and written by J.N. Graham, B.A. Edited by Dr E.J. Braggett, 1983.
A6595 (vi) Folder containing Department of Education correspondence relating to history of Mayfield East Public School, 1883-1983. A selection of correspondence has been digitised below:
- Correspondence 1883
- Return of School Fees in Arrear – 29 April 1889
- Plan – (1891)
- Waratah Public School – List of Pupils who received certificates – 9 August 1893.
- Public School Waratah – Names of Staff – 26 October 1893
- Plan of Proposed Purchase for Public School Purposes at Mayfield Parish of Newcastle County of Northumberland – 13 July 1917.
- Mayfield East – Mrs. Cunliffe’s property. Transfer to Broken Hill Proprietary, Limited. 5 July 1934
- Mayfield East Public School – New Infants’ Building – 5 November 1936.
- Mayfield East Public School – School History – 19 May 1965.
- Mayfield East Public School – 19 April 1982
A6595 (vii) Folder of photographs, c1890s – 1980s.
A6595 (viii) Folder of news clippings, 1872-1997.
LARGE FORMAT PLANS AND ITEMS
M4833 Mayfield Public School Block Plans Scale 16ft : 1 inch Date: 26.7.1917 (?) Originals held by the Archives Authority NSW (NSW State Records)
M4834a-b Mayfield East Public School. Drawing No.1. Ground floor and First floor. Scale 1/8 inch : 1 ft Date: c.1920. Originals held by the Archives Authority NSW (NSW State Records)
M4834c-g Mayfield East Public School. Plans for New Toilet Block. Scale 1/8 inch : 1 ft Date: 26.2.1974.
M4835 Department of Public Works NSW. Mayfield East Public School. Part Pland Detail and Contour. Scale 1:200 Date: n.d.
M4836a Mayfield East Public School. Craft Room by Conversion of Shelter. Scale 1:100 Date: 12.5.1975
M4836b New South Wales Department of Public Works. Mayfield East Public School. Sketch Plans. Scale 1/8” , ¼” = 1” Date: 15.5.1972.
M4837 Class Book of Mayfield East Public School Class 6/9 1977.
M4838 Class Book of Mayfield East Public School Class 6/4 1981.
M4839 Class Book of Mayfield East Public School Class 6/7 1985.
M4840 Class Book of Mayfield East Public School Class 6/9 1984.
Dr Stan Florek from the Australian Museum ‘Show and Tell’ with the Cooksey Collection, 5 May 2008
In 1925 Daniel F. Cooksey (1864 -1927) discovered an interesting collection of Aboriginal artefacts in Mayfield, Newcastle. Many were collected along the South Arm of the Hunter River, former BHP site, and Mayfield East school site. The discovery was considered so important at the time that the Ethnologist of the Australian Museum, W.W. Thorpe, travelled to Newcastle and officially reported the find in 1928. Cooksey is recognised as the earliest discoverer of evidence of Aurignacian culture in Australia, which is quite significant, but the scholar F.D. McCarthy doesn’t appear to mention him at all in his work entitled “Australian Aboriginal Stone Implements“. W.W. Thorpe however went to a lot of trouble to formally recognise D.F. Cooksey stating:
“The Elouera – The writer desires to place on record the earliest discoveries of this interesting implement. The late Mr D.F. Cooksey found the first at Mayfield, Newcastle, during June, 1925. It was one of many from this source, and figured in the Records of the Australian Museum, XVI, No.5 pl.XXIV, figs. 2 and 2A, May 1928. In December 1925, another example was found by the writer in a midden at Lane Cove. This was described with the Mayfield specimen. About this time several were discovered at Garie, National Park, by a party of geographical students from the University of Sydney. – W.W.T.”
Cooksey, Daniel F. “Aboriginal Flakes and Tools of Newcastle (N.S.W.) and District” 1st Paper [Typescript] . (1.72 MB PDF) [Courtesy Col Whitehead with kind permission from the Cooksey Family]
For more on the Cooksey discoveries please consult The Mayfield Website and Virtual Sourcebook for Aboriginal Studies in the Hunter Region (1925 onwards) compiled by Gionni Di Gravio.
ORAL AND VIDEO HISTORIES
Mrs Beldham – Mrs Beldham’s Memories of Mayfield East Public School
Mrs Bertha Downie – Former Teacher – “Mayfield 1910-1920” Interview with Bertha Downie
Mrs Helen Marshall – Student at Mayfield East Public School 1930-1936 – Autobiographical Recollections
Mrs Helen Marshall – Student at Mayfield East Public School 1930-1936 –Mayfield Walk No.3
Mrs Helen Marshall – Mayfield East Public School – (September 2007) – Memories – Mayfield East Public School
Mr Jim Downie remembers Mayfield East Public School in the 1920s (No. 1)
Mrs Vera Deacon remembers Mayfield East Public School in 1932
Mr Jim Downie remembers Mayfield East Public School in the 1920s (No. 2) “Have You Ever had The Cane, Son?”
Mr Jim Downie remembers Mayfield East Public School in the 1920s (No. 3) “Was Miss Gentle gentle?”
Mr Jim Downie remembers Mayfield East Public School in the 1920s (No. 4) “The Folly Park”
Mr Jim Downie remembers Mayfield East Public School in the 1920s (No. 5) “The Ingalls and Ingall Park”
50 Years of Progress : Mayfield Jubilee Celebrations 1900-1950 Souvenir Booklet (11MB)
Peter Crebert by W.J. Goold (Reprinted from Newcastle & Hunter District Historical Society Vol.2 August 1948, part XI p.161-164.)
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM HUNTER PHOTOBANK (LOCAL STUDIES – NEWCASTLE REGION LIBRARY)
Gionni Di Gravio
2 thoughts on “Mayfield East Public School – 150th Anniversary 2008”
The photo of Waratah PS (aka Mayfield East PS) is the school (left) and attached residence (right), built on a new site in 1881 to accommodate 300 pupils at a cost of two thousand two hundred pounds and was opened in 1883. The Dept of Educations records are lacking between 1883 to 1888, but in 1891 the school was listed as a Superior Public School which means it offered Primary and post Primary education.
The May 1895 Snowball photograph shows another building to the left of the original School & Residence building which potentially was constructed around 1888 when the school status was upgraded and the local population of school aged children warranted additional accommodation. The link that can be seen between the two buildings was a Hat Room. The residence section of the original building was demolished and a new residence constructed early in the twentieth century leaving only the schoolroom portion of the original 1881 building which remains on the site today.
I never went to school until second class, around 1960. I went to mayfield infants school, spent two years in second class before going to Mayfield primary school. Myself and 23 others boys were from St Albans boys home. We were classed as grubs by the deputy headmaster at the time, Mr Smith. He is the only teacher I remember from Mayfield. We hated him and his school. We coped a lot of ridicule from other kids, we were called “homeboys”. It was not a great part of our lives