East Adelaide SchoolEast Adelaide School

History of East Adelaide School | 1967 - 1986

Head Teachers

  • Colin Moss (1967-1971)
  • Walter Tucker (1972-1974)
  • Vaughan Higgins (1975-1977)
  • Paul Edwards (1978-1985)
  • Dennis Brown (1986)

Infant Mistresses

  • Grace Ruch (1967-1968)
  • Mary Beaumont (1969-1984)
  • Gloria Hinks (1985)


It is often the case that urgent needs will be met only when the crisis has passed. Throughout the 1950's, children streamed from all points of the compass to lift the enrolment in the whole school for a number of years to about one thousand, but as they moved on to secondary school and then to tertiary education, or to work, the suburbs around East Adelaide grew quiet. The reserves were no longer the scenes of noisy football games after school, and the high-pitched whine of a model aeroplane engine could no longer attract an audience of dozens of children who seemed to materialize from nowhere. As the enrolment at East Adelaide began to fall, there were signs that the dreams of staff and parents, first expressed in 1948, would at last be realised.

In April 1966, a group of university students had bulldozed the block on the corner of Second Avenue and Winchester Street, and in the autumn of 1967, a contractor sowed it to grass. In 1972, Dartford Hospital, which occupied a large block on the Third Avenue corner and had been the last obstacle in the way of plans for the school grounds, was finally purchased by the Education Department. Over the next few years, the whole area, coveted by the school for so long, was equipped as a relatively spacious playground with lawns and large old shade trees which were retained during the demolition work.

In its early life, the school had benefited from the interest of the Hon. F. W. Coneybeer, and now the local member, the Hon. Don Dunstan, Premier of South Australia, took a close and helpful interest in the needs of the school. A renovation program in 1971 was not sufficient to bring the school up to modern standards, although it did include the building of a new canteen. As a result, the old pavilion room, a landmark in the yard for nearly fifty years, became redundant and was demolished. At the same time, the slate floor, which had echoed the footsteps of thousands of children and their teachers in the main entrance to the school, was replaced by a characterless timber floor covered with linoleum. The school bell, rung for years by children solemnly aware of the great honour and responsibility bestowed on them, gave way to the blaring siren, audible nearly a mile away on a clear day.

Demolition of the original shelter shed to make way for the gymnasium

Other changes were much more acceptable. As a result of building programs during this decade, the main building now houses a large resource centre, a spacious staff-room in place of the tiny area where staff literally jostled each other to get a cup of tea, offices for senior staff and the ancillary staff, a bookroom and storage space for records. In 1978, a gymnasium/ activity room was built, to be followed in 1980 by a two-storey classroom block designed by the Public Buildings Department and built by T. T. Sheldrick. To make way for the new buildings, almost all the portables disappeared, as did the old shelter shed with its high partition which once firmly separated the girls and the boys.

The gymnasium under construction

Where the extra "pre-fabs" had been erected across Second Avenue, the area was paved with asphalt and marked out to provide two half-court tennis courts.

One building in the Dartford Hospital complex, a relatively new house for the matron, was retained and is now known simply as "The House". It was used for a time by the Psychology Branch, but now houses a play-group in the mornings and an after-school care facility for children whose mothers work. It is the base of holiday-care during the school vacations. From time to time it has also been used for class "sleep-ins".

In the corner of the yard nearby, an air-conditioned portable building houses a dental clinic run by the School Dental Service for East Adelaide and neighbouring schools.