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


Ruthven, as it is known today, did not exist at the time of the first school. The school was known as North Codrington, because that was the name of the Parish in which it was situated. The name Ruthven was not used until well into the present century. It was changed then because the hall and a post office nearby already were known as Ruthven.

In 1878 Miss Annie Lyle McPherson passed her examinations at Fort Street School to become a school teacher. She visited her home at North Codrington and while there was asked by the residents of the district if she would teach their children in a barn until they received permission from the Education Department to build a school. The barn was on the farm owned by D. McPherson, and is now owned by W. Keevers.

The Progress Association in 1878 received permission to build a school. A site was chosen out of flood level and Mrs. Christina McPherson donated it to the Department.

The first school was built of split, dressed timber with shingle roof and weatherboards supplied and pit cut by the pioneer residents. The builders were Mr. John McPherson and Chas. Hermann. This structure was approximately 12 ft. by 18 ft.


For the first year or two it was hard to get the number to keep the school open. Four year olds were sent to school to help and often the teacher had to roll up her riding skirt to make a pillow for them to have a sleep behind the door. One of these then four year olds, W. McPherson, is still living in the district. Other early pupils included Emily, Ada, Mabel and Herbert Herman, Annie and Kate Riordan, Fanny McDonald, Charlotte and Eliza Dickson; Margaret, Grace and Agnes McPherson.

The remains of an old visitors' book, dating back to 1885, shows that the inspector at that time was Mr. H. D. McLelland and that the early teachers were women.

The teacher had to ride about two miles up Pelican Creek which flows a few hundred yards from the school building, to collect the mail. The name of this post office was North Codrington.

This original building was in use for nearly twenty years before many renovations and enlargements were deemed necessary.

The Department supplied the material for a new building and this was erected on the present site. This school was opened in 1896 and this date appeared on the building until the painting in 1957.

An early landmark on the eastern boundary was a large pine tree under which the bullock teams used to rest on their journey from Coraki to Lismore with loads of timber. This tree was removed when the road was made past the school.

The attendance increased to such an extent that the school room was enlarged and a porch added in 1914. This school has remained the same to the present date.

Just before World War I a post office was opened at a nearby farm house and it was called Ruthven, to coincide with the name given to the local public hall. Ruthven is Scotch for red hill. When the war broke out, to avoid confusion with mail, as there was also a Codrington School, it was decided to alter the name, and in 1915 the school adopted the name already given to the hall and post office.

When the war came to an end it was decided to honour the names of those who fought for their country, so a roll of honour to the old pupils and residents was erected on the school wall. Mr. J. B. English was then the teacher.

At one time prior to World War II arrangements were in hand for the use of space in the hall. This was necessary because the attendance at this time was well above forty. However, when the war came, these plans never eventuated. The number of pupils has gradually decreased until at the present time the enrolment is twenty-two.


During most of the years of the school's history the school has been helped considerably in various ways by a Progress Association, and in recent years, a Parents and Citizens’ Association.

This association, at present under the leader of Mr. D. 0. McDonald as President, Miss Doris McDonald (Secretary) and Mr. W. Keevers (Treasurer), is a most active and cooperative one. Nothing is too much trouble if it is to benefit the children and the school generally, and the results have been most satisfactory. During the last five years they have purchased for the school a cement playing area, a set of horizontal bars, an electric wireless, strip-film and slide projector, a Bambi duplicator and a set of encyclopaedia, as well as a good stock of books for the library and hose and plants for the garden. The P. and C. meets every month in the school since the connection of electricity in 1956.

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.