Following the sale of crown land in The Gap to three purchasers – Moses Adsett, PJ & J Paten and JF McDougall – on 14th September 1858 and the second on 5 April 1859 – to Moses Adsett and JF McDougall together with HH Payne, J. Hilder, R. Cribb and Lewis Brockhurst – a small group of early settlers gradually moved into the area and no doubt celebrated when the State of Queensland was formed from the colony of New South Wales in 1859.
Within 10 years a total of 23 families were domiciled in the area, with three schools situated at Kelvin Grove, Petrie Terrace and Enoggera. On hearing of a decision by the Department of Public Instruction, planning to establish a school in the Ashgrove area was under way. Being concerned that this was still a long way for their children to travel, a number of concerned local parents approached local land holder and Superintendent of Water Works, C.H. Sigley Esq. to write to the Minister of Public Instruction to move the site further west thereby in some way equalising the distance to travel for children in both areas. After all, Ashgrove children were already attending Ithaca school, as were some from The Gap.
However, this attempt in 1876 by a group of early settlers to have a school established in The Gap, to save their children such a long journey out of the area for their education, was unsuccessful. It was to be 34 years later before a meeting in May 1910 of local families, when it was again decided to take up the cause to ‘get a school’.
On 2 July 1910, a formal application was made to the Department of Public Instruction by Mr Henry Hilder, who was the inaugural Secretary, listing the following Committee Members: Alfred Best, Thomas Purcell, Peter Clarke, Paul Gramenz, Alfred Smith and Arthur Pointer. Also it was advised that 26 pupils could be available with subscriptions promised of £20 with a total of £50 expected – even back then, 100 years ago, parents were expected to contribute.
It was thought two acres of freehold land would suffice to establish a school. Later letters, between the Department and Committee, indicate that Alf A. Smith was Treasurer and by the end of July 1910 they had a total of five sites for inspection and consideration. Only two sites figure in negotiations – one being two acres on the corner of Waterworks Road and (now) School Road, owned by Thomas Purcell and one in Payne Road, of two acres owned by Mrs L.E. Best offered at £25 per acre.
Reporting of a meeting on 28 July 1910, the District Inspector advised he had met with 14 residents, including the building committee, and noted 26 children were also there. The Inspector noted that seven of these lived within one and three quarter miles of Ashgrove School, many outside the two mile limit and some beyond three miles. He mentioned that he saw a number of young children between the ages of 4 and 5, who would be ready for schooling by the time a school was built and went on to advise, a 26 feet by 16 feet building, with two verandahs would suffice.
He went on to write that a lengthy and tiresome discussion took place about the question of the site. Some four or five sites were mentioned, each of which I was expected to visit, he recounted.
The Committee seemed to think “I was out for the day and that time was of no moment. After some discussion I got the number reduced to two – namely Purcell lot and Best lot. To settle the dispute I took a vote with six parents voting for Best corner and four for Purcell’s corner. Stating both sites were good and less than a mile apart with the majority of children closer to the Best site.
On this occasion the Committee also advise their funds had reached £25 and there would be no trouble finding accommodation for a female teacher.”
Land valuation of £25 an acre was considered too high for the Best property and as Purcell was happy to receive £20 per acre, the Waterworks Road site was selected.
Within a week, on 4 Augusto 1910, formal notice was issued by the Department of Public Instruction to the Public Works Department, giving approval to proceed with the construction of The Gap School with Henry Hilder, Secretary of Building Committee, advising the Department that accommodation was available for an unmarried male or female teacher three quarters of a mile from site in a 10 ft x 12 ft room at 15/- per week.
Article by Richard Speechley.
With acknowledgement for the research carried out by Mrs Chris Pommerel, editor of the 75th Anniversary Book and now editor of the 100th Anniversary Book of The Gap Primary School.