This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.


Lawrence, a rural area of approximately 300 people, is situated on the Clarence River. The school is built on a hill overlooking the river, sugar plantations and dairy farms. Although old, it is brightly painted in pastel colours, while the new office and staff room add a modern touch to a respected building. The school is a Third Class Primary staffed by a headmaster and two assistants. Three rooms accommodate the school population of 100 children, divided into multiple classes. Mrs. M. Williams Is in charge of kindergarten, 1st and 2nd classes. Mr. S. Fulker is in charge of 3rd and 4th classes and Mr. G. Williams has 5th and 6th classes. Pupil activities include folk dancing, recorder flute band, choir and presentation of puppet plays. Each year we hold an annual concert and our sports meeting is conducted as part of Commonwealth Day celebrations.

There is an ample playing area with attractive shade trees lining the perimeter of the playground. Projects planned by the Parents and Citizens' Association for playground improvement include: (1) Planting of ornamental trees and shrubs near tables and seats which will be built for children who have lunch at school; (2) grading of area for running track and ball games; (3) erection of gymnastic bars; and (4) construction of a new basketball field.


Lawrence was originally known as Devil's Elbow and 100 years ago the business houses consisted of a post office, two general stores, two hotels, a blacksmith's shop and several wharves. In those days there was a certain degree of animosity between Lawrence and Grafton (long since forgotten) concerning river and road traffic. Business in Lawrence deteriorated when a new road was constructed from the Tablelands to Grafton in 1859. This road bypassed Lawrence, which hitherto had been a busy centre, and in spite of the impetus given to Lawrence by Mr. E. Oglivie in building more stores, hotels and wharves and finally the construction of a road at his own expense from Yulgilbar to Lawrence-Casino Road, Grafton continued to prosper and became the leading town on the river.


It was about this time, in 1867, that an application was made for a Provisional School and the following year the first school was opened and conducted in a dwelling on Sportman's Creek, close to where the old punt operated. The enrolment in that year was 22, made up of 15 boys and 7 girls. Mr. John McPhee, who is 94 years of age and one of the oldest identities on the river, remembers attending this school 84 years ago. Mrs. Cook was his teacher and schooling was free, although he had paid 3d per week when enrolled at a school on Woodford Island the previous year. Reading, writing, spelling and mathematics were taught and Mr. McPhee says that reading and writing were his favourite subjects. He also added that Mrs. Cook was very tolerant towards the boys and their 1870 pranks, but he remembers, as a punishment for stealing oranges on the way to school, Mr. Harris, the schoolmaster, placing a dish of water on one side of the room and an empty dish on the opposite side, then young John McPhee had to transfer the water to the empty dish with a dessertspoon and not spill a drop.

From the opening of the first school eleven years elapsed before work on the present school commenced. The new building housed two classes in one big room, the desks being on a tiered floor with two pedagogues vying for an audience. It was at this time that Richard Henderson was appointed as headmaster. Then followed Angus McKinnon 1884, Joseph Glynn 1885, Arthur Redfern 1889, Charles McCoy 1908, Albert Waine 1915, C. Paterson 1921, Oliver Murray 1925, Louis Hill 1928, Arthur Munday 1928, Samuel Eades 1939, Ernest Nancarrow 1948, Allen Bennett 1956, and Gordon Williams 1959.

A school population of 127 in 1907 was the highest ever reached. Today with an enrolment of 100 the school provides a service for children in an area from Woodford Leigh, Lower Southgate, Sportman's Creek and King's Creek. These children travel to school by bus and bike, whereas they once came by horse and rowing boat.

It is interesting to note that in 1911 the shire valuation of departmental property in Lawrence was: Land 60, school 125, and residence 158. Total 343.


Since the P. and C. Association was first formed it has become more and more ambitious until today under the leadership of Mr. Dave Archer, Mr. Cecil Reeves and Mr. Roger Reeves (the executive members) it is working to provide up-to-date equipment and teaching aids in keeping with modern educational development. Major educational amenities provided by the association include a piano, 16 m.m. projector, a sewing machine, a radio in each classroom, a duplicating machine, sporting equipment, a school library, text books, and kindergarten equipment.

There is a close liaison between the P. and C. Association and the community, for it was with the help of P. and C. representation that Lawrence gained sealed roads and street lighting. In 1955 the P. and C. succeeded in having technical classes, Including dressmaking, basketry, floral art and soft furnishings," established in Lawrence. This association was also responsible in aiding the establishment of the public baths used and appreciated each summer by school swimming classes.

For being executive members of the P. and C. for 30 years, and for the admirable service they gave the following people were made honorary life members of the association: Mr. W. Knight (vice-president), Mr. L. Wright (secretary), and Mrs. L. Wright (treasurer).

This school is probably unique in this area due to the fact that school hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. These hours have been in operation here since 1918, when the headmaster, Mr. Waine, applied to the Department of Education for a change of school routine. With children travelling to school by bus and many riding bikes long distances this unusual routine is more suitable to children and parents of this area.

With a history dating back almost 100 years this school has passed on a tradition encompassing democratic and Christian principles and practices that have helped develop the happy social group that exists here, a high educational standard and a feeling of pride in the school and its activities.

North Coast School Histories

North Coast School Histories: as transcribed by Kathy Pearson and posted to NorCo List. STATUS QUO MCMLIX This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.