The hidden gem down the road: Hammondville Public School

Website: Hammondville Public School Major Project

When I began my project, I didn’t expect to know so much–not just about the school, but Hammondville itself and the rich history that it has. I wasn’t aware I was going to have so many resources to work with and I was truly surprised when I saw the amount of information and primary sources kept.

The reason I picked Hammondville Public School is because it’s a great school where all of my siblings have attended, and I really wanted to know more about the school. Once I started to go through the archives, I knew that I made a great choice by choosing Hammondville. Picking a local organisation for this project was rewarding. I was able to connect with people in the community who attended the school years ago who had great stories.  As a past student who did not know anything about the history, I was interested in knowing about it, and doing something significant. I have lived in Hammondville since 1997 when I was 3 years old. There is a big sense of community in Hammondville where everyone knows everyone and you are friends with your neighbours.

I believe that doing this project with Hammondville Public School is an achievement in itself. The opportunity to have gone through years of history which were stored in multiple boxes and discover new things about the school that I didn’t know, nor did other people. Going through the archives there were student records, images of the school before it was made, images of students, and student work and year books. One of the greatest achievement was my first blog post on History Matters which had a huge reach. Many people read it and left comments stating that they were themselves past students. 

It’s important to have done this project for Hammondville Public School as it will allow current students and past students to have access to the school’s history. Times have changed, and technology is the main source for research. I hope that when searching “History of Hammondville,” my site will appear. This website will benefit the school, as they can use it as an education tool to teach students about the history of Hammondville.

The aim for the project was to create a website about the History of Hammondville Public School including an excerpt of the history, images, student works, year books, letters from past students, and more. The website is an easy way for students both past and present to read about the school. There were different formats, and I explored with creating something online for the students to interact with. I’ve chosen to use WIX to create my website, as I tried to use Prezi and other platforms but they didn’t work for me.

When you first go on the site you are welcomed with images of Hammondville Public School with their first students and Canon Hammondville. Scrolling through the home page you will see images that will direct you to pages with the history of Hammondville and the school, images, newspaper articles, etc. It’s easy to use the site and it will be easy for students to explore the site and read about the history of Hammondville itself and the school.

Hammondville Public School website
One of the pages that contains newspaper articles

There were a few challenges that were brought up, especially when picking what platform to create the website with, as there are so many. I tried to play around with a couple of sites to see which was easier for me to use, and also wasn’t complicated for students to use. 

The last couple of weeks have been an experience which has opened my eyes to what Hammondville was, and the great accomplishment the school has achieved in the last 86 years. The rich history of the school has not been acknowledged by past or present students. 

My goal for this project is to complete it before school starts in 2020. I am presenting merely a draft of the website which will contain all of the information about the area and school. I will continue researching and finding more information and images. 

Hammondville – Where’s that?

“Where’s that?” is the question I get every time I tell someone where I live and grew up. It’s a quiet small town that is situated 31 km southwest of Sydney and not many people have heard of Hammondville or know about its rich history.

The reason for selecting Hammondville Public School for my project is because of the rich history it has that isn’t known to the students or the community. On my first day going through the schools archives I was shocked to see the amount of photos, original documents and information there is about the school from the time it was opened in 1933. I believe that it’s important for the children that attend the school to know about the history of the school. When speaking to the librarian and deputy principle, I asked what they would like me to do and they both agreed a interactive website for the students would be great. 

Let’s start with the history of Hammondville.

When going through the archives, I found a letter titled ‘Aboriginal Tribe of Liverpool’ dated back to 1980, noting “Daruk, Gandangara and Tharawal are tribal names which are not commemorated in any local landmark, even though it is only 170 years since these aboriginal tribes possessed the areas which are now part of Liverpool. Each tribe had its own definite area and was a separate group, vigilantly protecting its own lands from trespass by other tribes. When white settlers came to Liverpool and the Cowpastures, ignorant of and disregarding tribal boundaries, conflict broke out. Six years after Liverpool was founded, the soldiers at the barracks were instructed to protect the settlers from attacks by “hostile natives’.” When R.B.S Hammond visited the area now known as Hammondville, it was empty land and did not have indigenous people there, it was documented that they were run out by white settlers in the late 19th century.

Hammondville was born out of the depression through the vision and persistence of one man: Canon Robert Brodribb Stewart Hammond (1870-1946). On the 12th February 1931, he called a meeting at St Barnabas Church (located on Broadway, Sydney) for married men who wished to apply for the kind of accommodation which he proposed to provide. The Church filled to over flowing and as a result 800 applications were received from people who asked to be allowed to participate in the project. Thousands were left homeless and were destitute during The Great War and the Depression.

The condition for a family’s entry to Hammondville required that they be  married, have at least three young children and that the parents were unemployed and evicted or under notice of eviction from their present residence. The homes were not going to be a gift: they had to be paid for on a rent-purchase basis “The project was not intended as a charity, but as an opportunity for people to better themselves by their own hard work.” Hammondville was officially opened by the New South Wales Governor Sir Phillips Games on Sunday 25th November 1932. Canon R.B.S Hammond offered land to the Department of Education for a school.

On May 30th, 1933, the school was officially named Hammondville School, and the building was completed on June 1933. The range of suburbs from which the families came, is surprising, as many people are under the impression that most came from very poor inner suburbs. By August 15th, there were 53 pupils attending the school.

With so many children, two teachers and one class room, turns were taken to use the building. When one teacher was indoors, the other was outdoors. During the Depression, the teachers’ salary was reduced and for one fortnight there was no salary at all. Teaching conditions were extremely difficult, particularly at Hammondville.

Most school equipment had to be provided by pupils. Understandably there was very little equipment. On one occasion a little girl (Arline Cochran, Now Mrs McNab from Batehaven) told Miss Beard that she was going to pull her tooth out on Saturday so the tooth fairy would give her a penny to buy a new book. As Miss Beard (one of the teachers at the school) recorded in her diary “it would be funny if she hadn’t been so terribly in earnest.”

In 1951 more than 157 British children enrolled at the school and British children (mainly English) continued arriving until the early 1970s. The arrival at the school of the first “brits” proved delightful entertainment for the “Hammo Aussies.” 

In 1962, British entertainer John Paul Young enrolled in Hammondville Public. He was part of the group of British migrants that settled in Hammondville. Young attended the school and was enrolled in 6th grade. He would entertain the class with his piano accordion.  John Hatton, former politician (1973-1995), and Jim Masterton of Masterton Homes also attended Hammondville Public School.

There were photos of drawings that children had made of their school in 1983 and how the school would look like in 2033, showing flying cars, spaceships and rockets. I spoke to one of the teachers who has been at Hammondville since the early 90s and said that children would draw spaceships and futuristic things when thinking about what it would be in the 2033 (image shown below). The school also has a time capsule located next to the library that will be opened in the year 2033 to commemorate the school’s 100th year anniversary.

Quinn Shwan