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Lewiston School

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Fast Facts
Type of organisation: Government
Also known as: Port Gawler East School
Street number: Corner of Hayman Rd
Street name: Pederick
Street suffix: Road
Town or locality: Lewiston
Date established: 1885
Ceased operation: 1944
Established by: District Council of Mudla Wirra and the Education Board
Business or purpose: Education
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The earliest reference to a Government school in the Hundred of Port Gawler is found in the minute book of the District Council of Mudla Wirra on 29 January 1855. `Mr McCord presented a memorial from a number of influential inhabitants of the Hundred of Port Gawler, requesting the district council to assist them in building a school house.' The commendable members of the council resolved that, `the sum of £200 was to be put aside for school building and other educational purposes . . .' with the proviso that, `the money must not be spent on land not vested in the district council.'

In March of that year Mr John Edwin Gameau, the clerk of the council was asked to prepare a trust deed of the land given by Mr Henry Hornhardt for the erection of a public school. Almost immediately a building committee was formed to prepare plans and costs. This committee consisted of Messrs Dennis McEvoy, Samuel Cossidy and for a short time Henry Hornhardt, James McCord and Johnson Carson. When they retired John Dawkins joined the committee. In October 1855 the approval of these plans by the Board of Education had been received together with a grant of C135.

Just one year after the original request, in February 1856, Mr George Warren reported to council that the school building on the Hundred of Port Gawler as `finished in a highly satisfactory manner.'

Mrs Ellen Mankey (nee Pederick), in the story of her life, recalls the Lewiston school being opened and of the first teacher, Mr Waters, who did not stay long and who was followed by Mr H. T Ashton. In July 1855 the Government Gazette mentions that Mr H. T Ashton was the teacher at Pt Gawler School, one of the places supplied with a school for the first time. There were 33 children attending.

Mrs Mankey says in her memoirs, `Mr Henry Prior Ashton was a good Christian man; always opened school with singing a hymn and prayer. He always tried to do what he thought was right. He often visited us in our homes and brought the illustrated London papers and spent the evening explaining the pictures to us. "

It is interesting to follow the story of this first Government school in the district, built by the District Council of Mudla Wirra and the Education Board. The former was responsible for the building and maintenance, the latter for teachers and inspection. As part of their responsibilities the Mudla Wirra Council resolved in March 1856 that, `the whole of the area is fenced, posts to be of peppermint with three rails of split pine.' By 1872 the school mistress was also conducting the post office in the schoolroom and apparently this practice continued for many years.

Unfortunately the school was in the floodpath of the Gawler River and during the big flood of 17 April 1889 water entered up to the windows. In 1917 came another big flood and Mr C. J. Pederick recollected how Mr Aunger came on horseback, in the middle of a dry, warm, sunny afternoon and told the teacher to send the children home immediately as the flood was coming. When Mr Pederick arrived home early, bringing the cows as was his practice, his parents reprimanded him severely. The flood did come that afternoon and again the school buildings had water up to the windows.

As the years went by a highlight of the school year became the picnic, later known as the Lewiston picnic. This was a day of community involvement, lunch and tea was served and sports conducted for children and adults. The cost for lunch was I/- and for lunch and tea 1/6 during all those years. The first recorded picnic was held on 17 September 1926, and the last on 6 October 1944.

Records of the Lewiston School committee were destroyed by fire when Mr R. McCord's residence was burnt on 27 September 1920. The committee members at that time were Mr R. L. Day chairman, Mrs Day, Mrs Aunger, Mr J. R. Lawrie, Mr. H. J. Pederick. At the final meeting of the committee in 1944 the members were Mr F. H. Frost chairman, Mr C. J. Pederick, Mrs H. Judd, Mr E. Green, Mrs S. Menadue, Mr G. B. Oliver. Mr W. H. H. Connor was the head teacher.

Apart from a brief occasion or two, the school remained open until the buildings were condemned in 1944. For a short period school was conducted in the old Bethesda church on the corner of section 205. However, the decision was taken to close the school and transport the children to Two Wells.

Miss Coral Pratt (now Mrs Roberts) undertook to take the children to Two Wells Primary School in her 1924 Dodge car. There were nine children, sometimes ten and the round trip added up to a monthly mileage of 550 using on the average 26 gallons of petrol. Mrs Roberts recalls that she was never late for school and on one occasion when she had a flat tyre the children were delighted to imagine they would be late for once. However, not to be outdone, Miss Pratt got out the jack and changed the tyre and disappointed her charges by arriving on time as usual. She does recall one occasion when two young boys could not be found after school, so after waiting some 15 minutes she left without them.- An irate father came to see her that night and after she had explained that she could not find the boys he went home to discover their story. They had hidden themselves in the council chambers so they could walk home and go bird nesting!

The closing of Lewiston School after 88 years ended an era where a small community with limited funds could continue to educate their children.

As of 2010, this building no longer exists.

Related Articles


  • "Life around the Light." ;A History of the Mallala District Council Area.

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