Part 14 - Schooling And Population

Reference 21

MR. J. Pillar, according to Thomas Bawden, established a small private school in Grafton before 1850, but the size of his class and the scope of his work are facts which are lost in antiquity.

It does, however, provide an important link in the chain of social development of the town and district. The educational system which applied at that time in the colony, embraced both the "national" and 'denominational" types of schools under Government sponsorship. It is likely that Mr. Pillar's school catered for the children of some of the wealthier settlers and squatters, most of whom had previously been faced with the difficult task of educating families under pioneering conditions.

The experience of Mr. C. W. Bundock, of "Wiangaree," may be regarded as typical of any under similar circumstances. Writing in the Jubilee issue of the "Casino and Kyogie Courier," he states that "in addition (to all her other tasks ) my mother educated us all. The school hours were regular, even though we might have had to say our lessons while my mother was cooking or ironing.

Generally she did her sewing while lessons were being done. My father taught us Latin. Many time did I say my lessons to him while he was mending saddlery, or pruning grape-vines."

The other residents of the developing town did not have long to wait for educational facilities, for a National School was established in Grafton in 1852, with an enrollment of 50, which increased to 54 in 1853.. and an average daily attendance of 21.

By 1855 the enrollment had increased to 113, when Mr James Page became headmaster.

The population of Grafton in 1851 was reported as North Grafton, adults 70, children 59, South Grafton adults 80, children 85, and for the whole of the Clarence Police District (including the Richmond and Tweed areas) as 2000.

In the succeeding five years a noticeable increase occurred, for by the census of 1856 Grafton embraced a population of 1069 and Tabulam 1283-this in spite of the fact that the southern gold-rushes had attracted large numbers of the working population of the Clarence district.

They became 'mad for the mines and left the district in shiploads' from 1851 onwards.

However, the consolidation of primary and secondary industries in the town and district continued to attract permanent settlers, and hastened the sale of town-lots in Grafton.