East Brisbane State School


125th anniversary celebrations: 1899 – 2024

8 July 2024 marked the 125th anniversary of East Brisbane State School which was officially opened on Saturday afternoon of 8 July 1899.

 10 July 2024 marked the 125th anniversary of  the first students starting at the school on Monday 10 July 1899.

The 125th anniversary will be celebrated with a special Fun Fair featuring something for everyone.

Celebrating 125th anniversary of East Brisbane State School.
Celebrating 125 years of East Brisbane State School.

Aerial showing the Gabba stadium and East Brisbane State School
Aerial showing the Gabba stadium and its very close neighbour, the East Brisbane State School. (supplied: LJ Hooker)
History of East Brisbane State School
123 years old on 8 July 2022

On Monday 10 July 1899 the East Brisbane State School was opened to students for the first time after the official opening ceremony on the Saturday before. (see below)

Postcard of East Brisbane State School early 1900s. (eBay)

The beautiful red brick school was built to accommodate 350 students at a cost of £1,800. However, a record number of about 550 students were enrolled on Friday 7th July. It was noted at the opening ceremony that as student numbers had been severely underestimated additional school buildings would have to be erected as soon as possible!

A record 825 students turned up when the school officially opened its doors to students on Monday 10 July. Numbers would increase to 1008 by the end of the year!

East Brisbane State School opens to Students on Monday 10 July 1899. (The Telegraph, Wed. 12 July 1899)

Teachers and staff coped as best as they could with the huge numbers on the first few days. What had been intended to be a play area under the building was enclosed and turned into classrooms for 300 students. By Wednesday eight extra teachers had been employed and started immediately. It was a busy start to the life of a school which would become unique and much-loved in the local area.

The first extension consisting of two classrooms and a central entrance with bell tower was completed by mid 1901. The school could now cater for 730 students in four large and three small classrooms. Expansion continued over the years to meet the needs of the growing population of East Brisbane. These included a large play shed in 1907-08, a separate single-storey timber Infants’ School with two classrooms in 1910-11, and extension and re-modelling of the north and south wings in 1937-38. An extra storey was added to the central main block in 1939 and alterations made to the original building.

The original single-level school building in 1899 and in 1940 with the extra storey added. (Queensland State Archives)

Enrolments fluctuated over the years reflecting the changes in the population and needs of the surrounding suburbs. In November 1994 the school was entered on the Queensland State Heritage Register.

Another major change occurred in 1999 when part of the school ground was resumed for construction of the eastern grandstand at the adjoining Gabba stadium. It was not all bad news though, as the school received new facilities as compensation: a new block of classrooms, a library, a before and after school care facility, undercover eating area, multi-purpose court and extensive paving and landscaping of the school grounds were welcomed by the school community.

The enthusiasm for 123rd birthday celebrations is dampened by the current uncertainty and threat of possible closure, demolition or relocation the school faces to make way for a new, enlarged Gabba Stadium for a two-week 2032 Olympics.

We support the school’s Parents and Citizens Olympic Impact Committee, past and present students and parents and the local community in their efforts to strenuously fight this outrageous proposal to destroy a heritage property and much-loved and needed community asset.
(Sources: State Heritage Register/news articles/School website; photos: QSA)


On this day in 1899 -8 July 1899 –  Official Opening Ceremony 

Only eight months after the foundation stone had been laid by the Hon. D.H. Dalrymple, Minister for Education, a large and enthusiastic crowd including new students attended the official opening of the school.
Official guests included Mr T.  Dibley M.L.A. (chairman of the late school committee), Mr D.  Sinclair, chairman of the building committee, the mayor of South Brisbane, Alderman Nott and the Hon D.H. Dalrymple, Secretary for Public Lands and late Secretary for Public Instruction.
Mr Dibley advised that the school was starting free of debt, but noted that this would not last long as, due to a larger than expected number of enrolments, new buildings no doubt have to be added fairly quickly, incurring additional costs.
He thanked Mr Sinclair for the magnificent support and effort he and his committee had  put into getting this far and  presented his wife, Mrs Sinclair, with a silver key with which to perform the opening ceremony. The key was inscribed “Presented to Mrs Sinclair on the occasion of the opening of the East Brisbane State School.”
Mr Sinclair thanked the building committee and noted that while 350 students had been expected, 550 students had already been enrolled.
Mr T Halstead, of Coorparoo State School, had been appointed as headmaster.
Mrs Sinclair performed the official opening with her silver key and everyone filed in to inspect the premises. Refreshments were then served in the room below the school and more speeches given.
Everyone was happy with the school and the students went home looking forward to starting school on Monday 10 July.

Article describing the official opening of the East Brisbane State School. (Telegraph 10 July 1899)
Invitation to attend the official opening ceremony in 1899

Invitation advertisement to the official opening of the East Brisbane State School. (Brisbane Courier, 3 July 1899)

Save East Brisbane State School – Olympic Impact Information – history review

Last Wednesday afternoon, 15 June 2022, I stepped into the heritage-listed precinct of the East Brisbane State School for the first time and immediately felt that I had entered something special.
The small school is quite unique in both its location, history and culture.
Nestled close to the Gabba stadium this multicultural school currently has 304 students from 39 language backgrounds. It’s a designated ‘new arrival’ school catering for migrant and refugee children with special language and cultural programs. The emphasis is on active transport, i.e. walk or ride to school, in the true spirit of a school catering for the local community. Despite being surrounded by busy Gabba traffic, businesses and high-rises it has a distinctly personal and friendly feel where the principal knows every child’s name!

The school caters for students from Kangaroo Point and East Brisbane, with the only other primary school, St Joseph’s already at capacity and unable to expand.

East Brisbane State School, 90 Wellington Road

The East Brisbane State School (Brisbane East State School until September 1994) was the first of several large brick schools built in Queensland in the late 1890s to meet the demand of a rapidly increasing population during the post-Depression recovery. The original part of the school was built in 1899, with extensions added in 1900, 1938 and 1939. A single-storeyed timber Infants’ School was built in 1910-11.

The original single-storey building of the Brisbane East State School in 1899. (Queensland State Archives)

However, right from the start the rate of population growth and potential school enrolment were badly underestimated. The first contract in 1899 was for a brick building with corrugated iron roof to cater for 300 pupils at a cost of £1,800. When the school opened on 10 July 1899 there were already 800 pupils and by the end of the year enrolment had reached 1008!  Immediate extensions were necessary with two classrooms and a central entrance with bell turret added by mid-1901 at a cost of £2,323. Capacity then was 730 students in four large and three small classrooms.

Students at the Brisbane East State School in 1921. (Courier Mail, 28 May, 2021)

As East Brisbane continued to grow as a residential suburb in the 1910s to 1930s, student numbers increased, putting pressure on school accommodation and requiring further expansion. A large play shed was built in 1907-08, and a separate single-storey timber Infants’ School with two classrooms in 1910-11 (cost about £1,000). In 1937-38 the north and south wings were extended and remodelled (cost £4,370).

Brisbane East State School with the additional storey added, 1940. (Queensland State Archives)

A year later an extra storey was added over the central block and the original building altered (cost £6,860).

In 1910, the Australasian United Steam Navigation Co. Pty Ltd gave the school the bell of the SS Melbourne. It  still hangs in the bell turret today.

East Brisbane State School today (Tony Moore, Brisbane Times, 29 October 2021)

The school was entered on the Queensland State Heritage Register on 6 November 1994 as “evidence of the rapid growth of East Brisbane and Woolloongabba which accompanied the expansion of public transport in Brisbane around the turn of the 19th century. Both the population boom and the substantial brick buildings at East Brisbane State School are illustrative of the late 1890s/early 1900s economic high on which Queensland entered the 20th century. “

The suburbs surrounding the school and the school have changed over the years with great fluctuations in enrolments. A major redevelopment took place in 1999 due to the construction of the eastern grandstand at the adjoining Gabba stadium.

Gabba looms over the East Brisbane State School. (supplied)

A part of the school ground was resumed for construction of the grandstand. As compensation the school received a new block of classrooms, a library, a before and after school facility, an undercover eating area, a multi-purpose court and extensive paving and landscaping of the school grounds. (school website).  Today maximum capacity is 260 students.

Currently the school is in the news due to the uncertainty of the impact of the 2032 Olympics on the school. (more to come)
(Adapted from Queensland State Heritage Register/ QSA/ news articles)


1964: Happy migrants in East Brisbane.

In 1964 the Oteng family of of Bar, Erute, Lira, Lango, Uganda were Queensland’s largest African student family. Mr and Mrs A. K. Oteng and their four children lived in a large flat in East Brisbane. Mr Oteng was studying for a Veterinary Science degree at the University of Queensland under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. Two of the children, Thomas 7, and Ruth 5 attended the East Brisbane State School where they were the only African children among 1000 children. The family soon adapted to their new community and lifestyle with Mrs Oteng often helping out at the school tuckshop. (NAA)
Photos: National Archives of Australia (NAA).

Thomas Oteng, 7, shares a book and a desk with an Australian friend at East Brisbane State School. (NAA)
Mr and Mrs Oteng chat with the Headmaster in his office. With them are three of their four children, Rebecca 2, Daniel 4, and Ruth 5. Their eldest son Thomas 7 and Ruth are the only African children at the 1000 pupil Australian school.(NAA)
Mrs Oteng of Bar, Erute, Lira, Lango, Uganda helps out at the tuck shop. (NAA)

School Band in the 1930s
East Brisbane State School band in the 1930s. (East Brisbane State School Centenary booklet 1899-1999, p. 55)

The Belcher boys aged 10, 8 and 14 in their new band uniforms.

 

Eurythmics class 1939

Graceful girls of the fifth and 7th grades doing eurythmics. In the background workmen are converting the one-storey building into a two-storey structure to provide more accommodation for pupils attending the school. (Courier Mail 23 June 1939)

Eurythmics class 1939. (Courier Mail 23 June 1939)

Girls enjoying rhythmical movements to music in front of the main building.  Joy Geogther front left, Marjorie Smallbone behind her, Betty Burchill beside her. (EBSS Centenary booklet 1899-1999, p. 46)


Morning Parade 1935

The caption reads: “An unusual pictorial aspect at the East Brisbane State School. The morning parade of scholars and the uniformed band, which provides the marching music, viewed through the entrance arch.” (Central Queensland Herald, 18 April 1935)


Red Cross Girls in the 1940s

Teacher Miss Riddell pinning a badge on one of the ‘Red Cross girls’ in the 1940s.  (p. 67 of the school’s Centenary Book, 1999)

Red Cross Girls at East Brisbane State School 1940s. (School Centenary Book, 1999, p.67)

1946: Making their own cricket pitch

Caption reads: Boys at the East Brisbane State School spent a portion of today making their own concrete cricket pitch.

1949: Better than Physical Training?