Our History & Traditions

Our passion for what we do transfers into our school community

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1898

A new school is needed

A population explosion came, the result of the influx of people into Western Australia in search of gold in the 1890’s. The first motor car appeared in 1898 and with this the growing city of Perth began to spread. In August, 1897 the residents north of the railway line at Subiaco formally petitioned the Inspector General of Education for a school. West Leederville Primary School opened its doors with 133 children under the Head Teacher (Mr James Sadler) and one assistant (Miss Howson) in 1898. Such was the population growth of the area that by 1902 the need for increased accommodation was pressing with 314 students on the roll.

“My father, Jack Le Cras was born in Kimberley Street in 1899 and enrolled at West Leederville School in 1905, beginning an association with the school up to the year 1972, when his youngest grandson finished.”

Mrs Joan Collinson (nee Joan Le Cras)

West Leederville State School, Class of 1907

Mr Jack Le Cras is pictured in the top row, 4th from the right.

Railway Parade, Leederville, circa 1905. Photographer Louise Shapcott; Courtesy Battye Library)

The West Leederville Primary School in 1907.

Photo taken between 1898 & 1909

West Leederville State School, 1909

Class photo St. IV

How the surrounding streets looked at the turn of the 20th Century.

1910

The new tram car in 1914.

World War 1

During the First World War children were asked to bring empty shoe polish tins to the school. Twopence each was paid by a company as metal was almost impossible to get. In the school yard a sections was fenced off for any metal object to be given for the War effort. Many old bedsteads were added to the pile.

Red Cross and other patriotic works were actively carried out. In needlework lessons socks and mittens were knitted for the Red Cross.

The end of the War on November 11 was an emotional time for all. When the troops came home by train the engine driver would blow his whistle in the cock-a-doodle-doo sound as he approached the West Leederville station and all the children would run down and hand out little gifts for the troops who would be hanging out of the windows waving their hats and calling ‘cooee’. Some were fortunate in coming directly home but a lot would have to wait to be with their loved ones. On the 5th May, 1919, when the troopship “Khyber” came to Fremantle, many of the men on board were suffering with cases of Spanish Flu. They landed at Woodman’s Point and were strictly quarantined. The Trans Australian railway line was also closed to prevent the spread of the killer virus. Schools played their part by handing out yellow quarantine leaflets.

” When the news came that the war was over, we were having drill in the playground after morning recess. Immediately everything was forgotten and bells from the Church, firestation and the school rang out. It was terrific and I can still remember 70 years later the cheering and shouting everywhere”.

Jessie Elizabeth Howe, as recounted in 1988.

Class photo circa 1910 to 1920.

WEST LEEDERVILLE IS A CENTURY OLD PERTH PUBLIC SCHOOL

WITH A STRONG AND CONTINUED CONNECTION TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
1920

1929 Western Australian Centenary

In 1929 Western Australia celebrated its Centenary and the school joined in celebrations. Tjere was a production line in the hall stuffing paper bags with food for a picnic at Lake Monger. Each child was given a bag containing sandwiches, cakes, fruit and sweets. A medal was also issued to all children.

centenary-1929-medal_bronze

“The highlight of the year was a gala day at the WA Cricket ground for which the Governor, Sir James Mitchell, granted a special holiday. We had practised for weeks, young classes around the maypole, the boys doing callisthenics and also folk dancing. The West Leederville juniors were dressed as red poppies, the dresses and the little hats made from crepe paper, other metropolitan schools were arrayed in glorious colours. It was a fantastic display. Then all the children were given a little Centenary Flag which we all waved enthusiastically as the Governor was driven around the arena before leaving. The day had been grey and rain threatened but fortunately it held off until late afternoon. When it came, the red dye ran from our costumes but the day had been such a delight that nothing could dampen our spirits and the poppies had served their purpose. We were very excited to have picture in the local paper.”

Mrs Enid Cannon, nee Foulkes 1926-32

Primary Skills

The curriculum for a long time centred on reading, writing, arithmetic, home preparation (sewing and domestic science for the girls and manual arts for the boys) and drawing.

“Home science consisted of cooking and ironing, taught at the Leederville school. We made Cornish pasties. Two children were selected to take them back to their own school in cane basket. They went to each classroom and sold the pasties for lunch. When they had sold all the pasties, they had to bring the basket back to Leederville school and account for the money they had collected. The irons we used were very heavy and had to be heated on a stove. Zebo polish was used to clean the stoves.”

Mrs Rita Fischer, nee Meyer 1925-1932

Much emphasis was placed on sewing for the girls as it was considered of paramount importance for employment after leaving school. The models they made were often sold back to them at the end of the year to raise money which went towards buying more material for the following year, prettier material than that which was supplied by the Department.

In the senior sewing classes girls were instructed to make a practice of darning their own stockings.

Boys attend the Manual Arts Centre at Subiaco.

(taken from West Leederville Primary School 1898-1988 Remembering the Days…)

1930

The Great Depression

In 1930 the Great Depression began with many people jobless. For the school children bullseyes in the seats of trousers were normal. Shoes were always twice soled and toe and heel caps fitted to stop wear. Many came to school shoeless, their bright pink feet in the bleak winter weather an example of the hared times. Although for some boys the wearing of shoes other than in the coldest and wettest months was just not on anyway and class distinction was very much on the side of the shoeless!

1940
Remembering the days….

Singing was considered one of the school’s strongest points, especially during the reign of Miss Crossley (1906-1948). Her influence with the choir made the best in the metropolitan area and she was instrumental in setting a standard throughout the State.

Photo taken 1946. 

World War II

The war had commenced and the teaching staff especially the men were fast disappearing. Seven teachers had been conscripted during the year from the staff and six added.

In 1942, after Darwin was bombed and Broome and Wyndham were attacked, it was considered Perth could be next and the Government asked anyone with relatives in the country to send their children away.

During this time slit trenches were dug in the school grounds in the north eastern area. Regular trench drills were held and the children were made to wear trench capes made from hessian with a hood tied under the chin. Attached to these was a cord with a small half rubber ball and them were taught to bite on these if there was any hint of bombing.

On the lighter side, air raid practice was considered to be fun because normally the girls and boys were segregated into their own play areas and never the twain should meet. This was one occasion where they both made for the same trenches in the schoolyard.

Children were also taught how to lie in the street against the curb on the way to and from school nad practised putting on a gas mask in case of a bomb attack. Children from Wembley were often required to run home and were timed  to see how long it took.

Two gateways were made in the northern fence as the school was made and A.R.P. (Air Raid Precaution) depot. The A.R.P. helmets and fire fighting gear was kept at the school and a large garage with trucks was placed in the school yard.

Although the school suffered through fluctuations in enrolment and changes in staff, the efficiency remained high and patriotic activities of the children were keenly met. these included War Savings Certificates, collections of sugar, tea, cash, waste material, aluminium paper and rubber, and the knitting of jumpers.

The war year. Notice that although the photo was obviously taken during cooler weather, many of the boys have no shoes.

1950
Remembering the days…

The Jubilee of Australian’s Federation was celebrated on the 3rd May, 1951 with a series of pageants in the hall commencing at 10.15am. Drill displays were given in the afternoon and a flag was presented to the masses in the yard followed by singing and the presentation of Jubilee medals.

victoriancollections-large

 

Empire Day was also celebrated on the 24th May, 1951 with the distribution of badges.

The erection of an open air theatre surrounded by lawns and garden was an excellent feature of the school in 1953. Pavement slabs were laid as paths round seats and tables. This delightful facility was enjoyed until 1978 when it fell into disrepair and was removed. The white ants had struck again.

1954 was to be a high point in the school’s academic and physical education. In this year fourteen children won scholarships, the choir was chosen to take part in the Secondary Schools Music Festival, the football team won the District Premiership, the girls won the basketball, the girls physical training was rated excellent: together with a fine record of Junior Red Cross activities, Gould League membership and collection for the Silver Chain. Parents also showed their appreciation by voluntarily contributing over 200 pounds towards school funds. An interesting feature was the adoption of the Wittenoom Gorge school for the purpose of social educational projects. The senior girls also began using a new Singer sewing machine valued at 40 pounds.

Memorial library

A Memorial library was instituted in 1957 and the West Leederville-Wembley-Floreat Park- Subiaco Branch of the RSL began donating books in memory of deceased ex-servicemen. Prior to this classes had to rely solely on their own individual libraries which were often funded by holding tuckshops organised by the teacher.

1970
Remembering the days…

New school policies were formulated in 1971 to meet the needs of a school population affected by:

  1. A recent but significant increase in the number of migrant children, which represented 21 different nationalities by 1973.
  2. Widely differing socio-economic backgrounds from the more favoured localities in the Lake Monger and Wembley areas, to large families housed in small, old timber-type homes with little or no playing space.
  3. A floating population from the recently constructed high-rise flats along the arterial roads.

“When my three children started at West Leederville in 1971, there were about 250 children enrolled. I can remember a Christmas Pageant when the children had to come in national costume and there were twenty-seven different nationalities represented. The school grounds were quite different too. Outside the Headmaster’s office where you now have lawn, it was all tarmac.”

A new tradition begins

The old school bell made by Metters was situated in the sand area directly in line with the hall door. Due to the constant onslaught of white ants and weather it was brought inside and installed in a place of honour in the hall in 1978. A new tradition began for the Year 7 (now Year 6) students. At the end of their graduation ceremony they now file past and each in turn is given the opportunity to pull the bell rope. This is now the only occasion on which the bell is rung.

The first school tuck shop opened in 1971 under Mrs Uhe and still functions as a canteen today.

1980

School photos from 1981.

 

 

 

2018

Into the great yonder

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