Monday, August 10, 2015

History of the School Land

Forging Family Links

The first pioneers on what is now St Paul's School land were the Stewarts and the Duncans, Scottish immigrants who met on board the Anne Milne when she sailed from Dundee in 1841 bound for a new life in New South Wales. This was the start of a lifelong bond of friendship.

The families settled on land at Wallalong, in the Paterson River area of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales where, in 1846, John, at 24 the eldest of the Stewart children, and Jean, at 18 the eldest of the Duncan children, were married. This union was to produce thirteen children, one of whom died in infancy, leaving six girls and six boys.

Unfortunately the farming area they had chosen at Wallalong was prone to flooding, and in 1857 they endured several heartbreaking inundations. From a friend they had met on the voyage from Scotland, and who had settled comfortably in Brisbane, they heard of Crown land being offered at Bald Hills for £1.0.0 per acre. They needed no persuasion to pack up and head north. Jean Duncan's two brothers, David and Charles, and their families joined them on their migration to new land where they planted crops and raised cattle. All three bought up adjoining land in the years to come, but the land purchased by Charles Duncan was eventually sold for residential development and never became part of St Paul's School property.

It is well documented by members of the Stewart family that the Stewarts and the Duncans 'built wattle and daub homes on the highest point of their Bald Hills land within sight of each other'. This means that the Stewarts would have been on the high ground, probably in the area of the new middle school, and the Duncans were on adjoining land to the north (current playing fields north of Attunga Street).

The four portions that are now occupied by the School were sold by the Stewarts (two portions) in 1895 and by David Duncan (two portions) in 1866. These were sold individually in ensuing years until purchased by one owner in 1905 and eventually by the Anglican Diocese in 1958. At that time the land was owned by a farmer named John Redmond.

John Stewart died in 1905, highly respected in the Bald Hills/Sandgate area. A large crowd including ‘forty vehicles and thirty horsemen' attended his funeral. The Stewart descendants remained in the Bald Hills area running successful dairy farms near Bald Hills Road and near the Bald Hills State School until well into the mid 1950s. Stewart House at St Paul's School and the John Stewart Memorial Park on Old Gympie Road, commemorate John Stewart.

The Stewart Clan, c1904 
It was all made possible by a bequest from Sir Edwin Marsden Tooth who was keen to have a boys' school built on the northern side of the city. Several sites were considered but the final choice was the 125 acres once owned by the Stewarts and the Duncans.

Archbishop Halse, who was instrumental in the establishment of the new school, suggested that the name and motto of his old school in London be adopted for the new school. So ‘ St Paul 's School' and the motto ‘ Fide et Literis ' (By faith and By Learning) were accepted.

In spite of the opinion held by many that the site was far too remote for a school, St Paul 's has flourished since the first intake of secondary students in 1961. The inaugural headmaster, Mr Peter Krebs, guided the School through its infancy when the enrolment increased from 64 to 325 boys. Mr Gilbert Case was appointed as the second headmaster in 1979 and during his time co-education and primary years from 1-7 were introduced. In 2001, with the enrolment figure at over 1300 students, Mrs Margaret Goddard became Head of School. Next year will see the introduction of a preparatory grade - the final step in the St Paul's aim to offer a complete school-level education.

An exciting new Master Plan was unveiled recently, which will see a greatly changed campus gradually appearing over the next 10-15 years. Students, teachers, staff and neighbours were all invited to comment on the plans and to become involved by making suggestions for alterations or additions. One of the first buildings to appear will be a new Administration Building facing Strathpine Road. St Paul's International School Golf Academy will be opened early next year and a new ring-road, modern buildings and extra playing fields will appear as further development takes place.

The forging of family links continues at St Paul's today. Many of the old boys now have children of their own attending the School and it won't be long before the grandchild of an inaugural student appears on the scene.

Written by the Archivist in 2003 and previously unpublished.