Thorpdale History

Read all about the history of the Thorpdale Primary School

On 26 October 2014, Thorpdale Primary School celebrated its 125th year of education for the local children.  

Pioneers of Narracan and the Thorpdale district arrived and selected land from the mid 1870's, however it was the establishment of the railway line that saw the growth of the town of Thorpdale as we now know it.  The construction of the railway line from Moe, which began operation on May 8th 1888, was responsible for a rapid influx of settlers and businesses to serve the growing community.

A petition for a school to be established at the Thorpdale Railway Station site (now known as Thorpdale) was made to the government on April 5th, 1889.  This petition was signed by Alex Herbertson, Thomas Chapman, William Ninnes, David Cain, John Davis, William Leslie and John Hirt.

Thorpdale Railway School No 2966 began taking students on September 2nd, 1889 in an unlined weatherboard building 36ft x 22ft on allotment 40.  (This is the vacant area currently used for parking beside the Public Hall).  This site was leased for 13 pounds per year.  37 students were enrolled in the first month of operation, with a total of 48 attending by the end of the year.  John Robertson was the Head Teacher in charge.  The addition of the word Railway in the school’s title was to distinguish it from the Thorpdale School No 2012 which was in operation at what is now thought of as Thorpdale South.

During 1893 a one acre site was purchased for the sum of 20 pounds.  (This site was just out of town on the Mirboo North Road and was later owned by the Moncur family.)  By 1894 eighty six students were enrolled at Thorpdale Railway Station School 2966, and despite considerable opposition from Thorpdale School 2012 (at Thorpdale South) it was decided that a permanent school be established on the land that had been purchased.  By the opening of the 1896 school year a wooden building with attached quarters of four rooms had been transported from Glengarry and moved onto the site at a cost of 122 pounds.  With the establishment of this permanent school it was not long before the school at Thorpdale South closed.

Mr Alexander Moncur became Head Teacher and held the position for the next fourteen years.  This was the beginning of a long association the Moncur family had with the school.

In a memo dated July 28th, 1909 Inspector Leach advised that “The name of the school could be shortened to Thorpdale, there is now no reason for the addition of Railway Station as the old township is now called Thorpdale South, and has no school.”

During 1915 and 1916 representations were made to the minister with regard to the unsatisfactory state of the school and residence.  Mr Barnes MIA recommended a site offered by Mr Pickles (100 pounds for 3 ½ acres with an additional ½ acre as a gift.)  This offer was accepted and the land in Robinson Street, the current school site, was purchased in 1917.

A new building, consisting of two rooms each 26 ft 6 inches x 24 ft, was erected at a cost of 982 pounds.  It was first occupied in Feb 1919.  The school residence was moved from Walhalla.  An area which included the creek was fenced off to serve as a pony paddock for those students who rode to school.

On his return from active service in the AIF, Mr William Moncur purchased the old school and residence.  He assumed duties as Head Teacher at the new school in Feb 1923.

The following is a summary of some of the changes that have occurred since:

1951    A small, detached reconditioned classroom was purchased to help accommodate the 93 students enrolled.

1958    During the late 1950’s enrolments were at their peak. Present accommodation was inadequate for 145 students so the school made use of the church hall which was across the road at that time.

1961    As a school endowment project, the APM entered into an agreement to plant 10 acres of pine trees on behalf of the school at their plantation at Silver Creek and in the school’s pony paddock.

1960’s  In the early 1960’s two classrooms were added as a wing to the east of the main building.

1980    The Thorpdale Youth Activities Centre (Multi Purpose Hall) was officially opened.  This followed a proposal three years earlier to provide new facilities to house Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, Guides, the Badminton Club and other sporting groups.

1983    The school residence, which was in the corner of the school grounds was demolished.

1988    The pine trees were harvested and the pony paddock was replanted with Mountain Ash.  The Endowment Fund, which was established from the sale of the pine trees now had a balance of $21,000.  This money was used by School Council to construct the two room building and storeroom which is now used for Art and Music.

1994    The current office block was moved on site.

2010    New buildings were made available to schools through the Building an Education Revolution Program.  Thorpdale PS received four classrooms linked by a ‘gallery’ and an accompanying toilet block.  The 1960's classrooms were subsequently demolished, however the original building was retained.

Thorpdale State School 2966 has occupied three sites since it began in 1889.

Site No 1:        1889-1896       Lot 40 (beside the Public Hall)
Site No 2:        1896-1918       On the land which later belonged to the Moncur family.
Site No 3:        1919-current    Robinson Street, Thorpdale.

Material compiled by Brenda Jenkins 


The history of the Thorpdale Pub

travellers rest hotel 1908 b.b.

On 3 November 1908 (the day Lord Nolan won the Melbourne Cup), Michael Holden, John’s great grandfather took over the wine and billiards saloon, general store from Michael Hogan.  I was an old weatherboard building with a tin roof, a wide verandah along the front, one storey at the front and two at the rear.

The store was at the far right hand end of the building and under the same roofline.  Very shortly after, Michael obtained a hotel licence and the Traveller’s Rest Hotel came into being.  Through the hard work and enterprise of Michael and his wife Honoria, the hotel flourished.  They probably never imagined that 100 years  later their great grandson, John Bantock, would be the present licencee of the Traveller’s Rest Hotel.

John’s Grandfather Tom (Michael and Honoria’s son) married Eileen Sheehy on the 2 May 1924.  Eileen was working at the Trafalgar pub at the time.  They started their married life in a pub with Eileen being the waitress and housemaid at the Thorpy pub instead of Trafalgar.  Over the years, Marie (John’s mother) was born in 1925, Pauline in 1929 and Carmel (Young) in 1932. 

In 1936 the property directly across the road from the hotel, together with the adjourning building was purchased.  The old building was demolished so that a new general store could be built.  In 1937 the business conducted at the old general store, under the same roofline as the hotel, was transferred to the new store.  Shortly after, ,plans for a new hotel were drawn up.  The hotel was demolished, except for the old store which became a temporary bar during the construction of the new hotel.

The first brick of the new hotel was laid on 11 August 1937.  The hotel was completed and opened on 7 January 1938 and the “Argus” (a newspaper of the time from Melbourne) had an article on 8 September 1937 with the headlines “Modern Hotel for Thorpdale”.  Quotes from this article read “a link with the South Gippsland of 30 years ago was lost last month when the old Traveller’s Rest Hotel of Thorpdale was demolished to make room for a modern new brick building, designed to cater for local needs and the increasing amount of road traffic at this hitherto beauty spot.  The owner and Licencee (Mr Michael Holden) had held the licence since it was granted 30 years ago.  On the opening day, free drinks were laid on for one and all.  Mr Holden used to recall that ‘there were faces he had never seen and never saw again’”. 

In December 1939, shortly after war was declared, Mr and Mrs Holden left Thorpdale to take on a milk bar/cake shop in Ballarat.  The hard workload didn’t change and Marie who later married Frank Bantock, was to carry on.  John is the fourth generation to work in the pub, starting with Michael and Honoria Holden, Tom and Eileen Holden, Marie and Frank Bantock and finally John.

This material was compiled by Johnny Bantock

A tragedy occurred in April 2017 when a fire destroyed part of the roof of the Traveller's Rest Hotel and Johnny died during the event.  The whole community was devastated by the loss of this larger-than-life character who had played such  an integral part in the community.  Vale Johnny Bantock.

HOT NEWS:  You will be delighted to hear that the Traveller's Rest has been fully restored and also has absolutely beautiful en-suite accommodation upstairs.  Check out their Facebook page for details of their opening hours, their Bistro menu and upcoming events.