Monday, July 18, 2011

Memorial to a long-gone school


Bruce Comfort took these images in the Waitaki area of Otago, the Airedale District (and very kindly gave me permission to reproduce them here from his Panaramio account).


What struck me was the fact that this rock, with its plaque, is all that's left on the site of a school, started in 1915 just eight years after the Airedale block ballot for sections -- but it lasted here only until 1938.

The memorial stands next to the Airedale-Rosebery Hall, on Airedale Road, near Weston. On May 26, 2007, more than 90 people gathered there, among them some ex-pupils of the short-lived little school, to celebrate the centenary of the ballot, and to mark the unveiling of the memorial plaque. There is an article online about the event, available now only as a Google cache. According to the article (by Ruth Grundy, southernrurallife.co.nz)
The Airedale block was divided into 10 “ordinary” farms, one dairy farm and a coal reserve and these sections were put up for ballot for lease in perpetuity (999 years) under the Land for Settlements Consolidation Act, 1990. Interest in the land was high and 418 people applied for the 12 sections.
There have probably been many such early schools in the country which were started amidst optimism and pride by local settlers, only to fall eventually back into history, due to changing times, financial constraints, or simply because the settlements weren't as well-populated as first-hoped. It is special, though, to know this memorial is out there. Thanks, Bruce.
They will mark 100 hundred years since the ballot for ownership of sections of the Airedale Block took place, and remember the 23 years, from 1915 to 1938, when a small school stood beside the hall and served neighbouring families.

1 comment:

  1. Cute idea - how great memorials are. There was a school out here like that...the site is deep into the forest. The building dated from 1868. They foolishly buldozed it completely in 1954 at the end of a resumption program that the Water Board had been undertaking since 1901 - so thoroughly in fact that if you go there now there's not a sign there was ever anything. As a matter of fact I've just completed a portrait of the school building with the last teacher standing in front of it. She's 88 now and had a great photo of the building so I was able to put something together. It is like a memorial but it'd be nice to have a proper one - since the school lasted quite some time and was a very significant part of a community that there is now no trace of.

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