THE OLD SUTHERLANDS SCHOOL
Whenever I drive inland on the Fairlie Highway I always glance at the rather plain but appealing building proudly sporting the sign ‘Sutherlands’.
Its solid simplicity is representative of a time when isolated local communities banded together to build a functional useful building in which to educate their young children.
Throughout 1882 local Sutherlands families did just that, they held meetings and debates and thrashed out locations and plans for their new school.
The Public School at Sutherlands was designed by the Board of Education architects Messrs West and Barber and was completed in 1883. It’s constructed of wood and iron, and contains one class room and a porch, with room for up to forty children. There were thirty names on the roll; average attendance was twenty-six. There is a five-roomed house for the teacher built at the end.
The playground is large, and sheltered by well grown trees. I believe a second classroom was added at a later date. If you look you will see two different styles of windows in the building.
These small settlements grew up along the railway and originally the station here was to be called Bailechruick. However this was decided to be too hard to pronounce and Sutherlands, after the first settler, Mr Alexander Sutherland, was settled upon.
During these early years there was a lot of discord in the area as communities battled for school services and at one stage the Board of Education proposed the removal of the Sutherlands school building to Cave. At the time this resulted in “a mighty brouhaha” with many heated letters to the editor. In the end the Sutherlands school stayed where it was and Cave got its very own school as a result.
It ran successfully for many years servicing the local populace. In 1938, Sutherlands School, as well as other small community schools in the area consolidated and pupils were transported to Pleasant Point for their schooling.
The School then became the District Hall and community centre, in this era almost every social occasion happened at the school.
As an added point of interest, adjacent to the old school house and surrounded by a wooden fence is the Sutherlands war memorial, with plaques having been added over the years to commemorate the names of those killed in action.
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