Every student who attends Kingsville Primary School is important. These are just some of their stories.
The first student to be enrolled was Frederick (Cedric) Dixon of Empress Avenue. He attended the school between 1919-1921. His parents became members of the early school committees and the Mothers' Association. Cedric, made a sentimental journey to his old school in 1965 for the 'Back to Kingsville' celebrations. He shared a story that Reginald Ferguson was originally the first pupil in line to enrol, but he found the waiting a little frustrating so he slipped out to have a quiet smoke around the back of the school. When he returned he found eight others in line ahead of him. Reg Ferguson's grandchildren (Gregory, Julie and David Bond) also attended Kingsville throughout the 1960s.
Jack Willcocks was a student at Kingsville in 1920. He attended the school's 80th Birthday party and during the event pointed to a towering gum near the Julian Street and Somerville Road corner of the school. He could recall planting that tree on Arbor Day in 1924. Unfortunately the tree was removed in 2006.
J. Webster was the first recorded account of truancy at the school. In July 1921 he skipped three and a half days, the cause was unknown.
Edward Biggs who was enrolled in the school in 1922, could recall being always last with his work and that the headmaster would, as punishment, then use him as a messenger from the school to other local schools. He would often walk to Hyde Street, Powell Street and Geelong Road and back again.
During 1920 William A Dargie enrolled at the school. Formerly from Yarraville State School, he was at Kingsville from 1920 to 1922. Later knighted for his work as an artist, he is renowned as one of Australia's finest portrait painters. He won the famed Archibald Prize a staggering eight times! Among his notable commissions are portraits of the Queen, Prince Philip, Sir Henry Bolte, Sir Robert Menzies, Hal Porter and Norman Myer. William's younger brother, Horace Andrew Dargie, attended Kingsville from 1922 to 1930. He was the drummer in the school band. After breaking into show business and completing a national tour, he formed the Horrie Dargie Quintet. This group played top spots in the UK before returning to Australia in the 1950s. They recorded a total of 15 albums and Horace hosted the BP Super Show on television.,
Back in the early 1920’s students went on a trip to Bendigo and wrote about this in the yearly school magazine.
‘We caught a train from Yarraville to Spencer Street at 7.30 a.m. and arrived at Spencer Street at about 7.50. We then waited until all the boys arrived and were given our tickets by Mr Gainey, from Kingsville, who was going with us. Within half-an-hour the train started and did not stop till it reached Lancefield Junction, about 27 miles from Melbourne.
The next stop was Castlemaine, where some of us had a cup of tea and some sandwiches. As we left Castlemaine we saw the foundry which is known as Thompson’s Foundry. As we approached Bendigo, we saw old mines which were not working, also some which were in working order. When we arrived at the Bendigo Station we were met on the platform by the Headmaster of one of the schools. He took us outside the station, where the boys, whom we were going to play, were lined up. Each one had to stand opposite one of the Bendigo boys and introduce ourselves to them. He then took us to his home, where we had dinner.
In the afternoon the Bendigo boys took us to the football ground, where we were to play against them in football. We defeated them: the scores being 1 goal 2 behinds to 18 goals 21 behinds, but our boys were much bigger than the Bendigo boys. After the match each boy took one of us home for tea. After tea most of the boys went to the pictures, which were very good. Next morning, the boys showed us around the city. Some of us went to the Art Gallery, others to the Baths and Museum, and many other places. At about 10 o’clock we met at the Hercules, one of the mines in Long Gully. Most of the boys went down it and were given a piece of quartz with a speck of gold on it. The men showed us about the mine and explained the uses of different machines for running it. We went down 1368 feet. It was very hot down the mine and we were perspiring freely when we came to the top of the shaft. We appreciated the kindness of all connected with the mine.
After dinner we had to get ready to go home; for the train left at 3 o’clock. We said farewell to the boys and, within ten minutes, the train left. On the return journey the train stopped at every station, but it got dark very quickly, and we had to content ourselves with reading. At last we arrived at Footscray and said goodbye to Mr Gainey and the other teachers. Mr Gainey had been very good in explaining the things that we saw on the way up, and at Bendigo, and altogether we had a very good time.’
F. Mason and W. Swift.
In 1924 Kingsville student George Hatten was awarded a Royal Humane Society medal for trying to save his friend Jack Koch, who had unfortunately fallen into a quarry hole in Cruickhank Park. George tried three times to rescue Jack, but unfortunately Jack drowned.
In 1929 Wallace Read enrolled at the school and attended until 1935. In adulthood he became a fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Australia and worked for 35 years for the CSIRO as a principal research scientist in the field of solar energy. In 1986 he became a Member of the Order of Australia for his research.
Gordon Skoglund, who attended the school between 1933-1939, grew up to be a championship yodeller and won the Open Yodelling Championships at Melbourne Town Hall in 1948. He toured the world and made several records.
One student who began his schooling at Kingsville in 1936 was William John Allan McCausland. He enlisted as an army cadet in 1934 and served in the AIF from 1942 to 1949. He was awarded many medals and decorations and was promoted to lieutenant in 1940, captain in 1942, major in 1952, lieutenant-colonel in 1961 and colonel in 1967. On his retirement in 1974 he was granted the military title of Brigadier.
Larry Noye, who attended the school in 1939, became a very well known local journalist. He started his cadetship at The Footscray Mail and worked on newspapers in Bendigo, Geelong, Launceston and Hobart. After moving to Canberra in the 1950s he worked on the press gallery staff of the Australian United Press. His classmate in 1939, Alec Kenworthy, became a prominent radio personality on 3AW's Nightline talkback show.
Ken Moore writes of his time at Kingsville:
‘When I was in the bubs grade (Foundation), I got in trouble for exploring the air raid trenches which were just south of the main school buildings. When I was in first grade we had tests every Friday morning and if you got them 100% correct you got a gold star in your workbook. By the time I reached grade 6 every classroom had an open fireplace to keep us warm, but the ruling was that no fires were to be lit before the 1st June. Bad luck if there was a cold day in May’.
Keith Bulter, who was in grade 6 in 1944, became a distinguished cricket umpire and went on to officiate at Sheffield Shield level. Jim Cameron, also in grade 6 that year, became the District Commissioner for Scouting and was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his services.
Enid Thomas attended Kingsville in the 1940s, and was named Citizen of the Year for the City of Maribyrnong in 1997 for her volunteer work in the community.
Between 1944 and 1949, Edward K Walker attended Kingsville. Obviously he made full use of his education, because by 1994 he had risen to the position of Professor and Deputy Dean of Engineering at Victoria University.
There are no doubt many Kingsville students served during World War II. Bob Willis, who attended Kingsville between 1923-1930 was a member of the 10th Sunderland Squadron. Unfortunately he was shot down and killed over the Bay of Biscay during 1942. 'Skeeter' Smith and Ernie Bull were both former Kingsville students who also served their country. They were captured by the Japanese at Ambo which is an island in East Indonesia. Ernie was able to return home after the war but unfortunately 'Skeeter' lost his life in the war.
One student who attended Kingsville in the late 1940s was Albert Linder. After completing his schooling he joined the Metropolitan Fire Brigade with a degree in mechanical engineering. At one time his job was to scout the world, looking for the latest fire fighting equipment. He won an Australian Design Award for a fire pump with a modified mixer, that sprayed water or foam on to a fire at 4000 litres a minute. In the Queen's Birthday Honor List for 1994 he was awarded the Public Service Medal for his services to the firefighting industry.
During the period of 1945-1951 Bill Walsh attended Kingsville. His mother Rose was one of the first batch of students to enrol at the school and her name can be seen on the first school register, with an enrolment date of the 1st November 1919. Bill’s auntie Anne also attended the school from 1919. Bill has fond memories of the school, including the classes being a mix of boys and girls in grades 1, 2 and 3, but then from grades 4-6 they were separated into boys and girls specific classes. His strongest memories are of spending a lot of time pumping up footballs, so that he could get out of class and didn’t have to do school work! Open fires were also common at the time and Bill can recall that the school had fire monitors who were responsible for collecting kindling and paper to start the fire. There were rations for food and fuel at the time and Bill’s house had no phone, no car and only an ice box to keep food cool. Milk, bread and meat from the butcher was delivered daily. Speaking of milk, the school also received a delivery of it daily, in large canisters and it was then emptied into individual bottles. Bill recalls it as being awful and usually served at room temperature. Mrs Topp was his first grade teacher and Mrs Swalwell was his favourite teacher. He can also recall teacher’s using the strap or throwing a duster at a misbehaving student. Bill went on to have a successful career in the retail motor industry.
Ron Gretton attended Kingsville between 1947 and 1953. His student number was 6297. He can recall being a left-hander at school and would often get in trouble for using right handed scissors and not cutting things up properly. Similarly, writing was a difficult task for him as he was expected to write with his right hand, which wasn’t natural for him. At the time ink pens were used and using his incorrect hand meant he often smudged his work. Each Monday morning Ron can recall lining up for the ‘face the flag’ ceremony and singing the anthem ‘God Save the Queen’ as well as ‘Save Our Gracious Queen’. His school life wasn’t without incident, at one point at Kingsville he had a particularly bad day and threw an orange inside the classroom, managing to break the window. A typical school lunch for Ron during this time was sandwiches from home, perhaps leftovers, and if he was lucky two shillings from his mum to buy a pie from the shop across the road from the school. Ron went on to join the RAAF and become an engineer and a Group Captain. He received an Order of Australia Medal in 2015 for his services to engineering in the Air Force and also for his volunteer work preserving military history at the Air Force Museum.
During the 1950s there were a number of Kingsville ex-students who were top runners. Dave Stephens, who would climb the roof of the main building when he was a student to catch pigeons, was the world record holder for the six mile race and was affectionately known as 'The Flying Milkman'. Neil Robins and Geoff Warren ran at the Victorian Championships at Olympic Park in 1952 and Neil represented Australia at the 1954 Commonwealth Games, held in Vancouver, Canada.
In 1952 a boy named Peter Corris was in grade 4 at Kingsville. He went on to became a well respected journalist before publishing his first novel in 1980. He has been credited as reviving the Australian crime novel with his Cliff Hardy series, of which 44 books have been published. He has also written several non-fiction titles.
In 1955 Byron Kennedy began his schooling at Kingsville. At the age of 18 he formed his own company and produced amateur films. In 1970 he won the Kodak Trophy for the short film called Hobson's Bay and this enabled him to travel overseas and hone his craft further. On his return to Australia he teamed up with George Miller (well known Australian film maker) and together they directed and produced the iconic Australian movie Mad Max. Unfortunately Bryon died at the young age of 33 in a helicopter crash in NSW.
In 1953 former Kingsville student, Ron McCarthy, made his debut for the Footscray Football Club. He played 40 games and kicked 3 goals. He also played as a wingman in Footscray's premiership team of 1954.
John Francis Barstow who was a Kingsville student became the Mayor of Footscray during 1955-1956. Raymond Alsop played 54 games and kicked 69 goals during a career at the Richmond Football Club.
In 1962 Graeme Hodgart started at Kingsville. In 1990 he returned as a member of staff and in 1994 he sat down and wrote the school's history for the 75th birthday celebrations. He then updated the history six years later and then again in 2009. This website could not have happened without Graeme's dedication to the school and to being the safe keeper of its history.
During the 1964 football season, no less than four former Kingsville pupils were playing senior football with the Footscray Football Club. John Clarles played 17 games and kicked 5 goals between 1964-1966. Noel Fincher notched up 46 games, plus 8 goals, from 1964-1968 before transferring to North Melbourne where he played another 15 games. Mervyn Hobbs played 75 games for Footscray and kicked 115 goals. Ian Bryant played 162 games and kicked 22 goals. He was a member of Footscray's losing Grand Final side in 1961, a state player in 1962, 1966 and 1967 and was selected as an All Australian player in 1966.
The Captain of the Green House at the school in 1968 was Edward Whitten. His father of course was the famous footballer Ted Whitten. Nicknamed Mr Football, he was revered in the Western Suburbs and was recognised as one of the game's all-time greatest players. He was one of twelve inaugural legends inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Western Oval, the Footscray Football Club's home ground, was renamed Whitten Oval in his honour and a statue stands in his honour outside the ground. Edward followed in his fathers footsteps and played 144 games and kicked 126 goals with the Bulldogs. The Whitten family had a long history in the area; Ted Whitten's father was one of the early workers in the quarry at Cruikshank Park and unfortunately due to the dangerous nature of the work lost three fingers and half a knee in an explosives accident.
Ken Plummer attended Kingsville as a student from 1966 to 1972. He was a sprinter and extremely quick, so fast that no-one could even come close to him in races in the school ground. In 1971 his photograph appeared on the front page of the Herald, having created several new record times at the Victorian Championships and having won several medals through Little Athletics. Ken can also remember some the following times;
‘…Mr Noonan playing his guitar for us….watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon on the TV in the upstairs AV room……having our band provide the music as the students walked/marched into school on Monday mornings…playing gutter ball at recess and practising for tunnels ball and cross ball for sports’.
Glen Gingell made his debut with Footscray Football Club in 1973 and played 45 games, kicking 21 goals. Lee Perussich also debuted that year. He also played 45 games and kicked 12 goals. He attended Kingsville between 1961-1966.
In 1980 Zoran Stepanski and Mendo Stevanovska represented the Victorian Primary School Athletics Team in the Australian Championships. Mendo came first in the relay team and Zoran won the 100 metres, the hurdles and the relay. He also came second in the 200 metres and third in the triple jump.
During the 1980s Barbara Ann Holland attended Kingsville. It was obvious from an early age that Barbara had a terrific capacity for learning. By the age of ten she had won numerous scholarships. Completing her VCE at 12 years of age made her the youngest person in Australia to do so. She was also the youngest Bachelor of Science recipient at the University of Melbourne, graduating at the age of 15. After university Barbara taught at Oxford.
In 1985 one of the local newspapers, The Mail, ran a story on two local Yarraville men who were both TAA pilots. Captain David Ryder attended Kingsville from 1952 to 1957, while First Officer Alan Gagiero was a student between 1954-1959. At the time they had both clocked up 26 years of combined service at TAA.
During 1988 former Kingsville student Janice Grey (aged 42) passed away. She had attended the school between 1952-1958. She had been the full time director of Arts and Crafts for the Royal Melbourne Show, a position she held for 18 years. In her memory a cup for the Schools' competition for needlework and woodwork was created and awarded each year.
A former Kingsville student who made a big impact in the Western Suburbs during the 1990s was Ilija Grgic who towered at 203 cms tall. He had been a quiet student at school who had played mainly soccer and only turned to football in his early teens. Between 1993 and 1996 he played 62 games and kicked 92 goals for Footscray in the AFL. He then played 22 games for West Coast in 1997. He remembers his time at the school fondly;
'I was there for preps to year 6 and I enjoyed it. I had some good mates there then like Darren Love, David Downs and Damien Grezda'.
Stephen Curwood had started his education at Kingsville in 1989 before graduating in 1996. He played local junior cricket before joining the Western Crusaders Gridiron Team in 2002 and playing until 2008. He represented Australia at international competitions in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In 2006 he was in competition for Cleo's Bachelor of the Year.
Linda Mullins, who was a student at Kingsville in the 1960s, carried the Olympic Torch partway down Williamstown Road in 2000.
In 2015, Ethel Waters, a pupil from 1928-1935, passed away at the age of ninety-one. A member of the CWA for 25 years, she also volunteered at the Footscray Historical Society for 34 years as well as serving a number of different schools. Ethel had lived in Roberts Street, Yarraville for 56 years.
Continuing the strong KPS tradition of student supporting worthy causes, in 2015 Josh Schumann shaved his head to raise awareness and funds for the Leukaemia Foundation.
Also in 2015, Grade 6 student, Faith Seci, was one of the principal characters in the children’s TV series called Little Lunch. Faith said, “It was hard work but it was worth the time and effort.”
No doubt many more of the current group of students at Kingsville will go on to achieve great things.