AiroAV Publishes: 140 Years of the School on the Hill at Frederickton | The... - Jonathan Cartu Global Design, Architecture & Engineering Firm
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AiroAV Publishes: 140 Years of the School on the Hill at Frederickton | The…

140 Years of the School on the Hill at Frederickton | The...

AiroAV Publishes: 140 Years of the School on the Hill at Frederickton | The…

news, local-news, John Horbury Hunt, Frederickton School and teacher’s residence, National School, Council of Education, Macleay

One of the Macleay’s architectural treasures is 140 years old this year. Designed by the prominent architect John Horbury Hunt and protected as part of the National Estate, the Frederickton School and teacher’s residence group overlook the rich river flats and are a distinctive local landmark. The first school at Frederickton was a denominational school established by the Church of England around 1850 and run by William Henry Lancaster. William had arrived in New South Wales in February 1842 on the ship Agnes with his wife Ann and two sons, John and James. The school and temporary church was on Christmas Creek and operated during the 1850s until a number of residents, dissatisfied with the teaching system, petitioned for a non-denominational National School. The National School opened in 1861 with 46 pupils and was located near the present School of Arts. Mr William Alfred Taylor was the teacher and he also operated a store under the same roof. This was against the regulations of the Board of National Education and the school closed around 1864. A few years later, another Church of England School was opened where the former cheese factory stood, the teacher being John Lancaster, son of William Henry Lancaster. The government supplied Mr Lancaster with materials, and the building was also used as a church on Sundays. By 1877, this school building had become dilapidated and an application was made by the school committee for a new school for Frederickton. John Horbury Hunt arrived in Sydney in 1863 aboard the American barque Tropic. He had been born in Canada 24 years earlier and in Sydney made the acquaintance of the Acting Colonial Architect, James Barnett. Hunt had trained in Boston, Massachussets and after seven years working with James Barnett he started up his own architectural practice. After designing mainly ecclesiastical buildings, he began to look for other work including schools during the 1870s. Hunt wrote to the Council of Education in 1878 and asked for work in the Kempsey area. The council then offered him the commission for a public school and teacher’s residence at Frederickton which he accepted. The Council of Education had acquired a two acre site on the corner of present Great North Road and Remembrance Way in 1872; however, when Hunt inspected the site he found it unsuitable for his design. He reckoned if he he acquired the adjacent block to the north he could re-site his building to advantage. It was known, however, that the owner, William Teague, would not sell the block to the Council of Education as he did not want a school next to him. Hunt thus had to acquire the land through an intermediary, Reynolds his brickwork contractor, before the building could proceed. The contract was awarded to local firm G J T Lawson and Reynolds and Son and the school was opened in 1880. In listing the school and schoolmaster’s residence for heritage listing with the National Trust 100 years later, R J Chauvel noted Hunt’s exceptional architectural ability to handle brick and timber in a simple and individualistic way. Now recognised as one of Australia’s foremost architects, John Horbury Hunt was ruined by the 1890s depression and died in penury in 1904. By the time the 100th anniversary of Frederickton Public School had arrived, the population explosion on the North Coast had led to overcrowding and the erection of other buildings followed later to allow the school to continue to function.

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