Milton Public School History
Public School April 1878 – December 1943
Central School January 1944 – December 1973
Public School from January 1974
The historic private township of Milton was established in 1860 and had become the commercial centre for the entire district by 1875. The Milton School building was constructed in 1877 and opening in 1878, with 155 students. Prior to this, children attended Croobyar School and other private schools on the outlaying farms surrounding the Milton Township. The first appointed Principal was Henry Skillman, his sister Fanny in the role of assistant teacher and local girl Mary Booth as pupil teacher.
The two original school’s buildings costing £1900 are still standing and are used as the School Hall and teacher’s resource rooms along with school administration. The main schoolroom with its steep pitched roof, 13’ walls and other buildings were made from sandstone bricks from the Montgomery family’s brickworks at East Milton. Water supply came from the galvanised tanks at the rear of the buildings; these tanks can be seen in the old photos of the school.
John McDonnell replaced Henry Skillman as Principal in 1880 and stayed with the school until 1891, with John Hazelwood in charge for 1891, with the years of 1892 – 1893 with Henry Edmunds as Principal. He was replaced by William Healey in 1895 who was principal for nearly 20 years and had was well respected by all in the local community. By 1895 there were 183 pupils attending the school, calling for extensions to the original classroom and another classroom was added in the early 1900s, there were also other extension done in 1924. In the early days before School buses, children walked (mostly barefooted), rode ponies or drove horses and sulky to school.
In 1908 an exciting event not only for the School but the entire district was a visit by the State Governor, Sir Harry Rawson. This was the first time a motorcar came to Milton.
In December 1913, the school children of Milton celebrated ‘Kendall Day’ in which they built a stone cairn in honour of Henry Kendall. Mr William Healey, Principal of Milton Public School (1895 – 1913) was a lover of Henry Kendall’s poetry. He suggested the stone cairn be erected in honour of the poet’s birthplace at Kirmington Milton, as part of the student’s studies.
Frank Dwyer (Principal 1936 – 1937) was known as a strict headmaster, who each day entered the classrooms with the cane in his hand. Milton School was growing rapidly in the 1940s with many children walking from Ulladulla to Milton School (High School) to study for their leaving certificate. Milton School became Milton Central School in January 1944.
After World War II, the enrolment were 220, of these 75 were high school students and a staff of 11. The School’s Mothers Club was formed in 1959 with Edna Brook as their first President. In 1966 the school commemorated the life of Poet Henry Kendall yet again by contracting a fountain. The students are currently restoring this fountain and garden.
With the opening of Ulladulla High School open in 1974, Milton School revert back to its original 1887 name of Milton Public School, celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1978. Today over 600 primary pupils attend Milton Public School from Manyana, Bendalong, Conjola, Yatte Yattah, Woodstock, Croobyar, Milton, Mollymook, Narrawallee and other areas in the Ulladulla district.
Cathy Dunn – Written for Milton Public School 125th Anniversary Celebrations
References: Brook (nee Smart), Edna May, “Some Memories of Milton Public School”, extract from Some Memories of My Life, 2002.
Milton Ulladulla Historical Society. Milton School The First Hundred Years and Nulladulla, 1978
Milton Ulladulla U3A local history class. Brief history of Milton Public School.
Photos: Author’s collection, Milton Ulladulla Historical Society and Milton Public School.