Yarra Park State School comes back to life

Yarra Park State School comes back to life

Yarra Park State School in East Melbourne was located in a very prominent position – the intersection of Punt Rd and Bridge Rd.

The building that still occupies the site and which housed the former school is familiar to generations of Melburnians who have passed through that intersection on the busy roads north-south and east-west.

The school opened in 1874 and closed its doors in 1987 when the buildings were transformed into apartments. Now two books have been produced documenting the history of the former school, and both books will be launched on July 5 by the East Melbourne Historical Society (EMHS).

The author of the history of the Yarra Park school is Ian Hind who is a member of EMHS and a former senior executive with the Education Department. Ian’s research has assembled much detail about the school, but his book also places the history of the school in the context of the development of public education in Victoria.

Yarra Park was an important school in the Victorian public education system and served the East Melbourne and Richmond communities. The school had many boys and girls as pupils who later had notable careers in many different fields, including Sir John Monash.

By the mid-1980s Yarra Park was under the two-way squeeze of falling attendances and the need to widen Punt Rd, an exercise that took houses adjacent to the school and the children’s playground. Sadly, the school closed in 1987.

A companion piece to the history of the school is a monograph telling the story of the names on the First World War Roll of Honour at the school.

The Roll of Honour was a magnificent, engraved board which set out most of the names of former pupils who had enlisted in the AIF in the First World War. Unfortunately, this beautiful piece went missing after the closure of the school and has not been seen since.

Ian Hind, Sylvia Black and Tim Holland undertook to do short biographies of the people whose names were on the board, together with some other ex-pupils who enlisted and whose names did not make it onto the board.

Those who survived the war (many with injuries) had a wide range of post-war experiences, and the setting out of these stories in the book provides a fascinating insight into life in the decades following the First World War.

Both these books will be launched at the East Melbourne Library, 122 George St, East Melbourne at 10.30am on Friday, July 5, and all are welcome to attend. Copies of both books will be available for purchase at the event.

Image: State Library of Victoria.

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