In November 2019, Old Bar Public School celebrated the completion of their new building.1 As students proudly showed off their modern learning place, I looked into the school’s 80 year history.
Old Bar Provisional School opened 11 September 1935 in premises on Old Bar Road rented from Cliff Storm.2 Unfortunately the furniture hadn’t arrived so teacher-in-charge, William Hopper, used his own and borrowed furniture to fit out the classroom. Hopper was a returned WW1 soldier who had fought in Flanders and was more than equipped to deal with first day difficulties.3 Sadly this young, popular teacher died a few months later from an illness at just 40 years of age.4
Hopper’s replacement was Ernest William Orth, a formidable teacher who oversaw the official establishment of Old Bar School at its present site on the corner of David and Smith Streets. Against the backdrop of WW2, the Minister for Education declared the new school opened on 13 September 1941.5 The classroom with verandah and porch was erected on a one acre block of land, once part of the Old Bar Recreation Reserve.6
In 1942, with the war now raging in the Pacific, Mr Orth enlisted in the army.7 Without a teacher the school was forced to close and students went to Bohnock School to continue their learning. Old Bar reopened in 1944 under Daphne Trotter and by 1950 the school expanded again.8 Mr Orth returned from WW2 and taught at several schools including Pampoolah before passing away in 1976.9
In 2020 Old Bar Public School is a thriving, growing learning institution for the children of this seaside town.
Author: Janine Roberts
Sponsored by the Old Bar Manning Point Business & Community Association through a Royal Australian Historical Society NSW Cultural Grant.
1 Manning River Times, 6 November 2019, https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/6471966/first-look-step-inside-old-bar-public-schools-new-building/
2 History of NSW Government Schools, https://nswgovschoolhistory.cese.nsw.gov.au/schoolHistory?schoolId=6145; Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 16 August 1935, 6; Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast District NSW, 18 September 1935, 2.
3 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 20 September 1935, 3.
4 Northern Champion, 22 January 1936, 2.
5 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts NSW, 17 September 1941, 1.
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts NSW, 20 December 1939, 2.
7 NAA: B883, NX95425 ORTH, Ernest William.
8 Northern Champion, 5 February 1944, 2; 20 September 1950, 1.
9 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts NSW, 8 June 1949, 1; NSW BDM, Death Index, Ernest William Orth, No. 107994/1976.