Petitioning to open a State School to service the Kingsville and Yarraville area started as early as 1914. In 1915 the Education Department finally agreed that a school could be built and negotiations begun to buy the land that the school stands on today. Building had commenced by October 1918, and the school opened its doors as a Central School on Friday 1st August 1919. It was a large red brick two storey building on bluestone foundations. It had eleven classrooms, a staffroom, a storeroom, an office and a foyer. It cost 7000 pounds to build which is the equivalent of approximately $650,000 today.

‘Frogs croaked in the old quarry hole in the school grounds and snakes abounded on the rocky land close by’

(Mr Jack Gainey, teacher)

The first student enrolled was Frederick Dixon who lived in Empress Avenue.  He attended between 1919 and 1921, so only a period of three years.

The first school register (image shown below) lists the following students as being the first ones to enrol;  Frederick Dixon, Andrew Gray, James Short, Albert White, Thelma Glew, Stella Wearne, Rose Rosewarne, Reginald Ferguson, George Hall, Edward Herd, James Hodgart, Ernest Leitcher, William Medding, Donald McKenzie, Allan Parker, Lawrence Richards, George Smith, Gilbert Smith, Laurence Thornton and George Tyler.

First enrolment register

First enrolment register

Newspaper article about the opening of the school, 'The independent, 23/08/1919

Newspaper article about the opening of the school, 'The independent, 23/08/1919

280 children were enrolled at the school on the 1st August 1919 and many of these had transferred from other schools within the area. Within a week another 59 children had enrolled. By the end of August, enrollments stood at 387 students and by Christmas, 410 students were being taught at Kingsville. The upper grades were separated into single sex grades, while the younger grades were mixed boys and girls.

The original head teacher (early title for Principal) was Henry Tysoe. Not much is known about him, except that he was known to be quite strict and firm.  One of the first students, Walter Tangey, remembers Mr Tysoe wandering around the school with a strap attached to a stick.

Even though the school opened for enrolments and classes on the 1st August 1919, the official opening of the school was held on Friday 15th August. A number of prominent local council members were in attendance including the Mayor of Footscray, and the Honorable Minister of Education.

The site for this new school is excellent. We have here one of the finest school buildings in Australia...’ J.H. Bothers, School Inspector, 1919.
...you are the pioneers of this magnificent school and I hope you will live to learn and do credit to the school and district to which you belong’. Minister of Education, Mr Hutchinson, opening day, 15th August 1919.

When the school first opened the grade structure was different to what it is today. Grades went right up to Grade 7 & 8, which is the equivalent now to early high school years. A secondary school education was not common at this time and children generally started their education at primary school and finished it there, around the age of 13. After that they went out to work.

Students at the time would often play in Cruikshank Park, catching fish and yabbies in shallow parts of the creek.  The yabbies were often cooked on the spot, over a small fire in an empty jam tin, using not so clean creek water. In the hot weather after school students often swam in the quarry holes. Once a group of three boys chased a rabbit from the park into the school grounds, hoping to catch it and keep it as a pet.

It was agreed that at the time Kingsville Primary School was the finest and most up to date school in Victoria.