​Site History of Shorncliffe State School

The history of Shorncliffe State School is one of modification and transformation.  It had initially proved difficult for the Department of Instruction to secure suitable land for the proposed school at Shorncliffe.  During the First World War, the old Court House, adjacent to the Police Station and St. Nicholas’s Church, was secured and modified for a total cost of £675. On the 28th January 1919, Shorncliffe Infants School was opened with an enrolment of 110, catering for students up to eight years of age.  After acquisition and removal of the Police Station the school was extended to include a full compliment of year levels and Shorncliffe State School was officially opened by the Department of Instruction on July 1st, 1928.

To cater for the enlarged school, three additional rooms were constructed during the 1920s- these being later connected to the old Court House building by a covered landing.  This section of the school currently houses the music room, half the library, and the Principal’s office.  This portion of the structure had originally been constructed parallel to Yundah Street but caused teachers and pupils immense discomfort due to the piercing afternoon sun through western facing windows.  Following a visit by the then Under-Secretary for Public Instruction, it was decided to swing the building to its current position – perpendicular to Yundah Street.  This engineering feat was carried out during the 1934 Christmas holidays, and the procedure was apparently quite spectacular.  The building was moved a few inches at a time, by means of winches and beams, greased with tallow and soap.

The original buildings soon proved to be too small for the growing number of students in attendance at the school, and over the next few decades the school’s architecture evolved to become the distinct structure we see today. The first addition included four classrooms and a small storeroom. Two of these rooms were added to the back of the main wing and two brick rooms were added. Soon after this initial renovation, the old Court House, condemned for many years, was sold and removed off site.  The next round of improvements included the construction of two small rooms separated by a hallway and a small verandah, often used as a classroom.  These rooms have since been converted to include the office area, a classroom and the now Principal’s office.

The final instalment of the original wooden structure occurred in 1957, when the north-western wing, containing two additional classrooms and a room underneath were added. In 1986 and 1992 respectively, the demountable modular buildings containing two classrooms each, were added to the southern side of the wooden structure. During the late 1990s the Outside School Care building was built, and in August 2006 the Prep facility was constructed– with the first Prep class being taught in 2007.

After removal of the Police Station in the 1920s, the total land occupied by the school amounted to approximately one acre.  It rapidly proved too small for the expanding school population and so adjoining land was secured by the Department.  Firstly, a house with a large area of land, stretching from Yundah Street to Friday Street was acquired and the home sold for removal.  Later, the section of land containing tennis courts below St Nicolas’s Church was purchased from Church authorities.  During the 1980s, St Nicolas’s Church itself was demolished, with the land acquired by the Education Department in 1991, after years of negotiation with the Church.

During its early days, the playing grounds surrounding the school buildings were reportedly damp and wet through much of the year. Valuable work was done to the grounds during the depression (1930s), and at times groups of forty to fifty men were employed in filling the swampy section bordering Friday Street.  The work was never completed, and in 1950 soggy ground in the lower section of the school was a continuing and persistent problem.  During 1963, after several petitions from parents and the community about the substandard school grounds, the Department spent £2,000 on improvements to the grounds, including more effective drainage.  Today, the school occupies approximately one hectare, and despite its relatively small size has a beautiful rainforest and coastal aspect.

Head-Teachers (Principals)

Sarah Hall 1919 – 1922

John Wengert 1952 – 1959

Sophia Tyrrell 1922 – 1928

David Tweedy 1959 – 1961

James McNally 1928 – 1933

Alexander Edward  1961 – 1967

Edward Davies 1934 – 1940

Charles Jeays 1967 – 1981

Rita Kasper 1940

Lester Gaudry 1981 – 2003

Terrence McCaul 1941 – 1947

Cameron Boal 2003 – 2016

Harold Dorrington 1947 – 1948

Emma Vine 2016 – 2017

Herbert Youatt 1948 - 1950

Melanie Rehm 2017 - current

A huge thank you to the following people who agreed to be interviewed and whose interviews formed the foundation of the calendar – Florence Williamson, Kay Douglass, Joy Black, Bert Midgley, Marion Forbes, Bob Forbes, Beverley Allen, Joy Smith, Joy Jones, Jessie Peters, Val Klauke, Robert Klauke, Jill Morris, Lester Gaudry, Joy Harrison, Judith Singh, and Linda Mitchell.  Also, we wish to acknowledge the following student leaders in 2008 who conducted the interviews – Olivia Jones, Hannah Patten-Kuik, Erica Werner, Phoebe Pratt, Claire Harris, Meg Wilkinson, Viv Balmer, Jaydon McKenzie, Connor Ross, Leilli Phillips, Libby Horricks and Orion Gardiner.  Thank you to the Sandgate & Districts Historical Society whose help has been invaluable.

Looking Back – Looking Forward.

Donna Kleiss / Teacher & Cate Balmer / Parent

Last reviewed 06 March 2020
Last updated 06 March 2020