Very ‘Old School’

In April 1875 a new stone building was opened as a new one-room school for children in St Bathans (the part of the ruins nearest the lupins). In 1895 an additional room was added for infants (the part with a chimney). The school was abandoned in 1943 after earthquake damage.

Central Otago, New Zealand. Photos taken 07 Dec 2022

While operating as a school there were ongoing problems with irregular attendance, seems many children were making money trapping rabbits for the Rabbit Board. My source doesn’t reveal if they were making money for themselves or for their families. Interestingly, “In 1951 the old school buildings and land was leased to the Dunstan Rabbit Board”.

Problems with attendance were hardly surprising, in 1900 “the committee considered the public school ‘unfit for human habitation during winter months’. The open fireplace was useless, and ink froze in the inkwells on the desks. Huge snowfalls piled up beside the school, and many children could not get there, so, for several years there was a six week mid winter break. Later heating methods seem to have improved with a hot stove in the schoolroom with a high overhead pipe that heated the room, but the ink still froze overnight.”

Source: St Bathans School Ruins

Text and photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2022)

5 thoughts on “Very ‘Old School’

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    1. True! Evidently some dances were held in the school building 😀 “The Inspector had also complained about dances being held in the building, and in November 1891 the committee resolved that the school should not be ‘let for any entertainments or any other purposes except school work’.”

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