Volume 7 Issue 42
The Manual Training Block at Avondale Primary willhave served many surrounding schools. Standard 5 and6 pupils, that’s Form 1 and 2 or if you are really young,years 7 and 8 pupils, were bussed in for their weekly (?)session of woodwork and maybe metalwork for boysand cookery and maybe sewing for girls.
If I’ve got things right in my mind, my father attendedAvondale Primary Manual, travelling on the appointeddays from Gladstone Road. That makes my 19-BOYSENTRANCE-21 a bit off. Perhaps it was 1913?Whatever, somewhere around our family there shouldbe an inlaid tea tray dad made, probably in the room Ilater enjoyed so much.
My bet is that either with the coming of the war or per-haps with the opening of Avondale Intermediate theManual Block went out of use. Certainly on that memo-rable day I first went into it the dusty contents seemedpure 1930s. I can’t remember itinerant classes comingor going.
Later the block became an assembly hall? And theshrubbery? Long gone.
Avondale Primary must have been full to overflowing -- not that I noticed -- but a ‘pre-fab’ had appeared andoccupied one of the playgrounds and now our class wasto move. Not to the pre-fab though. Instead we were togo to the old ‘manual block’. Where? Egh? What’sthat?
A ROOM OF DELIGHTS
Ordered to move, our class moved. In a marchingcrocodile of course. Not that we went far. Just to therough-cast tile-roofed building that lurked, part ob-scured by the Penman (?) shrubbery near Great NorthRoad and beside the Salvation Army Hall. The door westopped at was marked in crisp concrete plastered let-tering, 19-BOY’S ENTRANCE-21. No doubt I’ve gotthe date wrong. Another class continued on, their desti-nation the door at the other end and on the other side of the block marked, of course, 19-GIRL’S ENTRANCE-21. I don’t know how it was for them, but for me and Iguess most of our class we had sort of gone to Heaven.In fact we had gone to the old Manual Training wood-work room. No benches, no tools, but everything else, aroom like none other in the school or for that matter,anywhere else.
I don’t know what the girls made of it, but in an agewhen boys were interested in boys’ things the place wasa visual delight. The ceiling was hung with largewooden model aeroplanes, the walls between the win-dows mounted multiple hinged glass-faced wooden dis-play cases filled with large photographs. All the classicNew Zealand locomotives, ships, engineering wondersand a full set of views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge asit progressed from footings to completed arch. Enchant-ing. You could fold the panels aside to find more andthey were double sided. Clearly, even a master teacherlike Mr. Cumming couldn’t compete with the distrac-tions his room offered. When we returned after a termbreak the room was stripped. Still the place held itsmagic. “Cummo” made it his and he became ours.
Having been a woodwork room there were a couple of store rooms. Just the thing for a teacher skilled, notonly in his standard duties, but absorbed in the arts andall kinds of crafts. From these ante-room stores cameall sorts of material that strengthened our learning andbrightened our days. The room did not stay bare forlong. With our teacher’s help we lined it with our ownpictures and because the place was more spacious thanthe usual run of school rooms there was space to set uprelief geography models of New Zealand, a river valley
The Avondale Historical Journal
The Avondale Manual Training Block
by Don Gwilliam
rescue — the diesel buses, always a welcome sight tome those days because they meant we’d be able to con-tinue on our journey.
The bus turnaround terminus was formed as a half-circle right around the Rosebank Road toilet block (which is still there, along with half of the turnaround).When the trams were withdrawn in 1956 and electrictrolley buses took over the route to the city, they neededa way to turn around and go back the way they hadcome, lacking the double-ended form of the tramswhich simply came down to the stop in Rosebank Road, and switched over to go back up again.
The Rosebank Road terminus ceased to be so importantfrom the early 1970s or so. The Primary School andRacecourse Parade stops took over as the main board-ing and disembarking stops for Avondale shops. Eventhe taxi rank close to the turnaround was shifted fromRosebank Road to where it is today close to the Avon-dale Town Centre and stage on Great North Road in theearly 1990s, finally ending upper Rosebank Road’s as-sociation as a main transport terminus after around 60years.
But when I look at George Parish’s photograph, fromback before I was born — the sunny summer dayscome back to mind. Waiting beside my mother to geton those rattling trolley buses, for another journey upthe hill, past the railway station, over the bridge andalong towards New North Road and stuff to see in MtAlbert and beyond.
Thank you, Tim, for this wonderful opportunity toshare your father’s photography with others.— Lisa Truttman