East Adelaide SchoolEast Adelaide School

History of East Adelaide School | 1922 - 1936

Head Teachers

  • William Hand (1919-1922)
  • John Cornelius (1923-1929)
  • Robert Healy (1930-1935)
  • Clarence Butterworth (1936)

Infant Mistresses

  • Dorothy Pavia (1922)
  • Catherine Walsh (Acting - 1923)
  • Florence Blake (1924-1929)
  • Mary Fitzgerald (1927-1936)
Grade 5 Boys, 1927, with teacher E. Culverhouse
Grade 6 Girls, 1930


With the erection of the Honour Roll, the arrival of a gun as a war trophy in 1922 and the viewing of war pictures at the Reading Room by several classes and their teachers in 1923, the war faded from school records. Staff numbers grew to seventeen in 1922, six of them men. After the sad days of war, this period was characterized by a vigorous involvement in sport, and many journal entries were concerned with a variety of sporting activities.

  • February 9th, 1923 - Class of boys to City Baths for Life-saving lecture and demonstration.
  • March 16th, 1923 - Class to Gilberton for Life-saving exam, another to City Baths.
  • October 9th, 1923 - Cricket material supplied .for school matches by East Torrens Cricket Association.
  • July 28th, 1925 - Boys to Adelaide Oval - Sports Week.
  • August 3rd, 1925 - 270 children to Norwood Oval foothill match.
  • August 6th, 1925 - Sports picnic at Belair.
  • September 7th, 1925 - Girls to Adelaide Oval - basketball.
  • February 8th, 1929 - 60 children to Unley Baths to see Arne Borg swirn.
  • July 15th, 1929 - 250 children attended football matches at Norwood Oval.
  • August 9th, 1929 - Girls to basketball carnival

The entries continue in the same vein until 1932 when, for the first time, girls are mentioned in the swimming program:

February - Grades 5- 7 girls/ boys to swimming classes - Gilberton Pool

R. C. W. Hann gives some insight into a way of life related to the school's emphasis on swimming, which has long since disappeared.

"A history of East Adelaide School would not be complete without a mention of the River Torrens - not just a river but a way of life for the students of the school until the late 1920?s. It was, then, a place of pristine beauty with its huge gum trees and native vegetation, its majestic- poplars and willow trees - an area of' serene tranquility. Bird life was abundant and possums and wild bees lived in the hollow trees.

Fast Adelaide children swam like fish in its clear waters caught golden carp, red fin perch and yabbies and paddled their home-made tin canoes. We remember the pleasant feeling of the hot dust under our bare feet and the happy voices of boyhood mates swimming alongside in the favourite pool. Our pleasures were simple and cost little money during the years of the Great Depression. East Adelaide School excelled in the school carnivals at the old covered City Baths and provided future swimming champions for Norwood High in the combined schools' aquatics. Life saving tuition was sponsored by the school.

Then came the era of sand-washing plants along the river bed. Reservoirs built in the hills prevent the annual cleansing floods. The beautiful old trees have been removed and the river neglected and allowed to deteriorate into a muddy trickle in the summer months East Adelaide schoolboys ?Ben Hart, Ron Mann and Jack Matthews - discovered the ancient Kaurna burial ground while digging a patch for potatoes alongside the river near the old corroboree site. Many of the skulls were removed by the powers that be ?for scientific study?. East Adelaide schoolboys found other aboriginal burial areas but after the desecration at the first site have remained tight-lipped about their location ? for more than sixty years.

Now the eternal rest of the Kaurnas is disturbed by the roar of traffic but ?progress? must go on.

A wonderful facet of life for East Adelaide has gone for ever but vivid pleasant memories still live in the minds of East Adelaide School septuagenarians"

Soccer was added to the sports played by the boys early in this period. Many a good Australian father had grave misgivings about his son playing this "sissy" English sport, but the boys, with the help of a certain Mr Bishop, won permission to clear the "Gilbie paddock" near the swimming pool. After school, they laboured with picks and shovels and cleared and leveled a pitch.

Soccer-playing schools were much further afield than their traditional rivals in football and cricket, Norwood and Payneham, so, in full regalia, including sprigged boots, the boys caught the tram on Saturday mornings and travelled as far afield as Colonel Light Gardens. They returned in the just as they had left the field, mud-spattered and dishevelled. The fathers were somewhat reassured when they discovered that their sons had added some of the body contact of Australian Rules to the game so that, as they played it, it was suitably manly!

The Depression, which was soon to come, deprived many of the boys of the chance to continue with their chosen sport, but two of them at least went on to make a name in sporting circles. Bob McLean played football for Norwood and Port Adelaide and Brice Schultz became the most celebrated goal-kicker in the first 100 years of the Norwood Football Club, scoring 100 goals in thirteen games in 1941. Both of these men also played Sheffield Shield Cricket.

1925 School Report of S. Huddlestone, later General Manager of ETSA

Space in the playgrounds was taxed to the limit in these years and there was no room for football, cricket or basketball to be played at recess or lunchtime. Nevertheless, the children seem to have been in a state of perpetual motion and, consequently, the yard in constant need of repair. After heavy rain in 1922, the head teacher himself, with the help of some boys, filled the holes in the girl's yard. The children played marbles, knuckle-bones, keep the-ball-way, hopscotch, skipping, Red Rover, chasey, clapping games with chants, and "brandy", as well as kicking a football and bowling a cricket ball at one stump.

Some of the games seem to have disappeared from the school-yard of today. The girls played "Footy-off-the-ground" in which the girl who was "he" had to catch one of the group who was standing on the ground. To avoid being caught girls leapt onto the rails of the galvanized iron fence, protruding tree roots, stones or even a friend's toes. A game remembered with glee by those who were boys at East Adelaide then was their version of a very old game, "Hi Cockalorum", which they called "Hi Cockalora". Boys chose teams, one of which would form a "caterpillar", with the boys bent over as for leap-frog, each one with head tucked well down and his arms clenched firmly around the boy in front of him. The "caterpillar" was anchored to a sturdy boy braced against the fence or a handy tree-trunk and supporting the head of the second boy in his cupped hands. From as far away as possible in the crowded yard, one by one the opposing team took running jumps, leap-frog fashion, onto the back of the "caterpillar". When all were aboard they chanted:

"Hi cockalora
Jig, jig, jig!

Ever seen a monkey
Riding on a pig?"

The object of the game was to try by every possible means to use their weight to make the caterpillar collapse. Parents enquiring about their sons' obvious back soreness in the evenings seem to have been kept in ignorance of the exact nature of the boys' favourite game. Modern schools which ban "brandy" and "Red Rover" would have given this one short shrift!

Despite all the activity in the yard, the morning assemblies always concluded with a routine of exercises which the children knew by heart and performed to the beat of a drum before marching briskly in to lessons.