GALA OCCASSION: People came from all over the district in their very finest clothes for the opening of the Jones Hill State School on January 29, 1902.
GALA OCCASSION: People came from all over the district in their very finest clothes for the opening of the Jones Hill State School on January 29, 1902. Contributed

Colourful history for area

BEING a Jones of Welsh stock, I always wondered how Jones Hill came by its name.

It's named for a prospector called Richard Jones, his family and his brother who were the first white people to settle in the area after they found gold halfway between the water treatment plant and the site of Jones Hill store in 1868.

The reef turned out to be quite rich and miners came from all around to try their hand.

Many miners and other workers used to live in tents on the flat adjacent to the southern slope of Jones Hill near a stream, and because of the tents the tributary became known as Calico Creek.

The area prospered and a hotel was erected in 1887 with rumours it was replacing a "sly-grog shanty.”

It was purchased in 1892 by Mrs Norrie and demolished and a newer, larger premises built on the site of the current general store.

It's said Mrs Norrie moved to the area and bought property and businesses after winning £8700 in the Sydney Birthday Cup.

She later remarried and became Mrs Gilligan.

That hotel (called the Royal Standard) burnt to the ground in 1927 to be replaced by another of the same name which also burnt to the ground in 1938.

They were still mining gold in Jones Hill at the turn of the 20th Century and even opened a new mine in 1902 at The Dawn.

The earliest available photo of the Jones Hill State School. This was taken in 1917.
The earliest available photo of the Jones Hill State School. This was taken in 1917. Contributed

With the area clearly prospering, steps were initiated in 1899 to establish a school for the many children in the district.

Early moves to make the school a provisional one were quashed due to the number of children likely to attend, a view shared by the general inspector of the time, Mr David Ewart.

"To have the administration hampered with overgrown provisional schools is bad enough, but to start a provisional school with 48 children seems to court discomfort if not disaster. Where are we to get provisional schoolteachers that can manage 40-odd children? This is work to tax the skill of a journeyman schoolmaster. Are we to start a big provisional school within cooee of the Monkland?” he wrote.

So the suggestion was made to make the new school a state school, with a building committee established, tasked with raising £100 (or 20%) of the £500 needed to build it.

Trouble followed soon after the plans were received when the new quote for the building was offered of £745, meaning the committee would need to raise a further £49.

Resignations followed and a new plan submitted with a tender of £592 eventually accepted by the new committee, however they already knew they would have trouble coming up with their part of the funding (£118).

The school was completed and opened on January 29, 1902, with the school building committee still owing £28. The school clawed its way into the black by September the following year.

The school also had a Post Office operating on the premises by head teacher, CR Morton in 1905.

Flo, Stan and Edward James on their horse heading off to school. Records show they were enrolled at Jones Hill in 1933.
Flo, Stan and Edward James on their horse heading off to school. Records show they were enrolled at Jones Hill in 1933. Contributed

Former student Gladys Dittman (nee Blackburn) recalled in 2002 what it was like to be a student while she was there from 1910:

"The head teacher was a very old man; he had been there a long time. Mr McInme. He loved giving the cane. His daughter taught us sewing. She was also a pupil teacher. We wrote on slates and the inspector came once a year.”

RECOLLECTIONS OF SCHOOL DAYS

"When we were all walking home together, sometimes we would fight, but not very often. This day I threw a small stone at a kid and hit him on the ear and drew a bit of blood. He jumped up and down yelling, "I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead. I'll tell on you, I'm dead” and we got this all the way home.

-Gladys Dittman (nee Blackburn)

Gympie Times


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