Glenthorne Provisional School opened in a room on Thomas Trotter’s farm “Orange Grove” in July 1877 with an enrolment of 36 students.1 Within three years, under the tutelage of Miss Eliza Plummer, the school became a Public school.2 In 1891 a more permanent brick building was erected, while in 1906 a cottage was moved from Harrington and re-erected as the teacher’s residence.3
In 1915 the only teacher at the nearby Purfleet Aboriginal School resigned and no replacement was appointed. The closest school was Glenthorne so police directed children to walk 4 kilometres each way to attend that school. When white parents realised that Aboriginal children were attending Glenthorne school they withdrew their children. They then petitioned the Minister of Education demanding the Aboriginal children be immediately withdrawn and the teacher given power to refuse them entry.4 The Education Department, sent the aptly named Inspector Black to the school to investigate and he recommended its closure due to the attendance of only nine Aboriginal children.5 In June 1916 the school was closed.6 A subsidised teacher was to be secured for the Purfleet Aboriginal School.7
In 1923 Glenthorne school reopened with parents claiming that the ferry to Taree was unsatisfactory. The brick building was in good condition and was re-used.8 In 1931 the school was renovated and the teachers’ residence was reportedly moved to Purfleet Aboriginal Station and converted to a classroom.9 Student numbers eventually dwindled and the school was permanently closed in October 1940. The school building still stands and is now a private residence.10
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Sydney Morning Herald, 22 September 1880.
2 NSW Dept of Education, History of NSW government schools, Glenthorne https://nswgovschoolhistory.cese.nsw.gov.au/schoolHistory?schoolId=3402
3 Sydney Morning Herald, 21 January 1891; Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 11 August 1906.
4 Northern Champion, 14 June 1916.
5 Gloucester Advocate, 21 June 1916.
7 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 17 June 1916.
9 Manning River Times, 6 January 1932; Research notes from NSW State Archives.