The following is a précis of ”  130 Years of Schooling: history of Thomastown Primary School No 631 1855 –1985  by Beryl Patullo. Published by Thomastown Primary School March 1985.

by Beryl Patullo June 2008


Thomastown in the parish of Keelbundora had its beginning not long after John Batman founded Melbourne in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales in 1835.

Early  Melbourne land sales were held to obtain money to enable the financing of migrants to Australia. The land was usually purchased in one square mile lots, and subdivided.

The Primary School is situated on a portion of Section 22. -

Section 22 of 636 acres, was first purchased by Joseph Hall James Gibbon & John McKenzie, Shortly after they subdivided the land into four further sections.  The actual date of settlement of Thomastown is difficult to pinpoint, but we do know from the land sales, that Michael Mahoney purchased the 280 acre southern section in November 1852, Peter McCoy the 144 acre middle section, finishing at Newton Street, in April 1850, John Thomas 106 acres from Newton Street to Spring Street, and Francis Thomas 106 acres between Spring and Main Streets, in January 1853. The Thomas’s paid 344 pounds 10 shillings ($689.00) each for their blocks of land. At that time the area was known as Keelbundora.

Most settlements were usually founded by a particular group of religion of people.  Thomastown had two such groups. Wesleyans and Lutherans.  The Wesleyans became market gardeners and farmers, supplying the Melbourne markets, with fruit, vegetables, plants milk & grains, for flour. The Lutherans who came to Australia in 1849 & 1850 , with the assistance of William Westgarth settled on Section 25 in March 1850 and are very much involved in the history and settlement of the area.

Established Dairy Farms which began one of the largest dairies still operating in Victoria today. –  ”There are other published history’s on Westgarthtown by Robert Wuchatsch”

The Wesleyan group leaders appear to have been the Thomas family.  The Thomas family consisted of parents John & Mary, their children Joseph 21years, Francis 18 years, Alfred 8 years, Mary Ann 4 years.  They arrived in Port Phillip aboard the Ward Chipman, on 15 December 1841. There was also another son John, the time of his arrival here is not known.

More settlers arrived from the area the Thomas family came from in England, and the church services where held in various barns, the need for a permanent place of worship became evident and in 1853 Francis Thomas, made one acre of his land available for the building of a Church, this was to be used as a school of learning during the week and worship on the Sabbath.  The church paid One Hundred Pounds ($200) to Francis on 30th January 1854, this was not registered until 3rd May 1864. This was the beginning of the Primary School.  The rear portion was to be reserved for a Grave Yard.

This is still in existence, although many of the headstones at Thomastown Wesleyan Cemetery are missing

Over the years the school grew, with more students and more buildings required.  The original school completed in November 1854, was a timber construction, in 1877, it required  lot of maintenance and was replaced by the brick building, this is still in existence today in High Street, extensions were carried out on that in 1925.

The growth of the area, with the Peter Lalor Estate established after WW2, the brick building could not accommodate all the students, they were taught in Mechanics Hall in Spring Street and some were transported to Clifton Hill.  The Eden Park School was closed in 1943 this building remained on site until 1953 when it was transferred to Thomastown, it was ready for use for the commencement of 1954 school year, together with two LTC Classrooms. The Education used the LTC Units ”(Light Timber Construction)” these could be easily extended and this is how the school grew. In 1953 the Education Department, purchased the extra 6 acres of land. It was around  this time, they were aware that more room was going to be required, The Methodist Church Hall was to become a School Room for the 1956 School Year, until extra LTC units were built. .

In 1977, LTC Units consisted of 16 classrooms, Canteen, Office, Staff, Production & Store Rooms, Library, together with the Eden Park and the Brick building, 18 classrooms in all.

”’Honour Board of Students.”’

*D Creighton

*W Creighton

*M Creighton

*F Dyer (killed in action)

*W Ellis

*W Evans

*V Evans,

*A Graff

*F Graff (killed in action)

*J Graff

*H Olney,

*H Prescott

*W Prescott

*E Sheffield (killed in Action)

*C Sheffield

*E Spencer

*A Wilson

*D Mann

*E Bower

*S Dymond

*D Fullerton

This was burnt in the fire 1978

There were two fires, the first destroying the Eden Park building in November 1977.and 13 July 1978 the greater part of the school, that was known as  LTC (Light Timber Construction) units.. Leaving only the original two LTC rooms, and the Brick Building. The Methodist Church hall in Spring Street was also burnt at this time. Portables replaced the burnt school buildings.

Special efforts to raise money to help pay for the new building and the new school with the address as Spring Street opened in 1982. – Officially opened in March 1985. (It was extended in 2001)

General Registrars Office,

Vic PRO,

Education History Dept,

Church Minute Books,

Several printed Publications & Newspapers.

ISBN No. 0 9589687 0 5 More details refer to published book