1857 - Ballarat

Charles Martin's home page

  1. 1857 - THE BIG MOVE.
        1. Dana Street School and Dawson Street Church.
        2. The Ballarat To Which Charles Came.
        3. His Family Circumstances.
        4. The School.
        5. Preparatory Action in Ballarat.
      1. 2nd February, 1857. School Commences. (Charles Aged 29).
        1. The Inspector's First Visit
        2. 13th May, 1857 - Charlotte Elizabeth (second child) born.
        3. 17th August - The Inspector Visits Again 
        4. 28th October, 1857. A letter from the Secretary.
        5. 21st and 22nd December - Third Visit by Inspector.
        6. Other Events of 1857.
      2. Inspector's Report - 17th Aug., 1857
        1. FURNITURE.
        3. TEACHER.
        4. INCOME.
        5. DEFECTS.
      3. Inspector's Report - 1857 - 21/22 Dec.
        1. BUILDINGS.
        2. FURNITURE.
        4. TEACHER.
        5. INCOME.
        6. DEFECTS.

1857 - THE BIG MOVE.

Dana Street School and Dawson Street Church.

    As Charles and Elizabeth took their short Christmas break, they no doubt realised that their positions were probably disappearing very shortly. I guess they were wondering where they might end up. They had heard of the new school at Ballarat, and were no doubt interested in it, some of their relatives having settled there. Just prior to Christmas a Mr Henry Jones was appointed by the Commissioners as Head Master of this school, but within a week or so he had declined the appointment. Whether or not the vacancy was brought to Charles' attention through an advertisement, or the position was offered to him by the Commissioners I do not know (I guess the latter), but in any event right at the beginning of the year it was offered to him and he accepted it. On the 4th January a letter was fo­warded to the Correspondent of the Ballarat School with this message -
4th Jan -
"With reference to the 3rd paragraph of my letter of 22nd ult intimating that the Commissioners have recommended Mr Henry Jones for the situation of Master of the Balaarat School, I am directed to inform you that that Gentleman has declined the appointment.
I am now to inform you that the Commissioners recommend Mr Charles and Mrs Elizabeth Martin for the situation of master and mistress of the school in question - Mr and Mrs Martin have been in the employment of the Board for some time and have given satisfaction. Mr Martin is classed in the 2nd Division of the 2nd Class of National School teachers, and Mrs Martin ranks in the S Division of the 3rd Class.
Mr and Mrs Martin will leave for Balaarat early in the ensuing week."

A few days later a letter was forwarded to the
correspondent of the Pascoe Vale school -
9th Jan 1857.
    "I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 24th Instant acknowledging receipt of the Teachers' Classification certificates and reporting the small attendance at the school.
    In reply, I am instructed to acquaint you, for the information of local patrons, that the Commissioners do not feel justified in keeping open the school under present circumstances, and that they have recommended Mr and Mrs Martin for appointment to another school.
    I am at the same time to state that the Commissioners will be ready to receive any proposition for the employment of the school building in the manner recommended by the inspector in my letter of 5th December."

Then a few days later again Charles received his official notification concerning the Balaarat School - (In the early days, there were various spellings for Ballarat - such as "Ballaarat", "Balaarat", "Ballarat".)
    "I have the honor to inform you that the Commissioners of National Education have recommended you for the situation of Master, with your wife as Mistress, of the Balaarat National School.
    You will receive the salaries attached to your respective classifications to commence from this day. You will be provided with house accommodation and you will receive the school fees subject to the conditions laid down in Circular Number 6.
    I am to request that you will proceed to Balaarat forthwith and report yourself to James Oddie Esq. and the other Patrons of the school, from whom you will receive every requisite assistance and information.
    You will be required to take charge of Free Sets of Books with selling requisites for the use of the school.
    The Commissioners in confiding to yourself and your wife the charge of these important schools desire to impress upon you the necessity of using every exertion in your power to render the school effective and a credit to the Board."
                            Benjamin Kane, Secretary.

"This letter will be handed to you by Mr and Mrs Martin, the persons referred to in my letter of the 9th Instant, who have been recomm­ended by the Commissioners to take charge of the Balaarat School. Mr and Mrs Martin are prepared to enter upon their duties as soon as the school is ready. "

    So it was off to Ballarat in mid-January to take this challenging and exciting new position. I suppose they traveled up by coach in those days - could be a hot and dusty and uncomfortable trip - especially for Elizabeth who was 5 months pregnant. And I guess it would be difficult to keep a toddler of 18 months from getting very restless on a long and confined journey such as this. I'm not sure how their belongings were brought up - maybe by bullock dray or something, which would be slow and cumbersome.
    As school was not due to commence until early February, Charles had a fortnight or so to settle into the new house, and to prepare for the new job. I think that an air of excitement no doubt prevailed, as once again he is coming into a brand new situation in a new building - and no doubt there was a certain sense of expectation and anticipation on the part of the local community, who had planned for more than two years for this school and had been very much involved in the building process. After Charles arrived, a circular advertising the opening of the school and giving details concerning the curriculum and the school fees was printed and distributed around Ballarat.

The Ballarat To Which Charles Came.

    Ballarat is renowned throughout Victoria for its cold and miserable climate. In winter it has many days of grey, drizzly weather with heavy, low cloud and biting wind. Having lived there myself for 17 years I can testify to this. (But maybe to newcomers from England it wasn't too much different from the place they'd left behind.) It must have been quite fearful at times to be living in an unheated tent, with mud and slush underfoot and a freezing wind whistling through your unprotected shelter. It can also be quite hot in the summer, when it bakes with the rest of Victoria in the hot northerly winds that blow from the deserts of Central Australia, with the mercury soaring above the 100 degree mark (40 degrees Celsius). But in between these two extremes there can, of course, be many pleasant days
    In 1856, when Charles arrived, the gold rush was still in full progress, and in many parts Ballarat was a tent city. The population at the time was about 35,000 to 40,000 and still growing. It had recently been torn by the unrest of the Eureka Stockade, where a number of miners had been killed by government soldiers in an attack. This had happened in 1854, only three years before Charles came to Ballarat, and Peter Lalor, the leader of the miners' revolt who had managed to escape, (and was later elected to parliament), was a member of Charles' school council.

His Family Circumstances.

    Charles was now 29 years of age, and Elizabeth 21. Elizabeth was five months pregnant with her second child which would be born in mid-May, but this did not seem to deter her from taking on teaching responsibilities. Charles and Elizabeth also had relatives to give them some sort of a greeting when they arrived, as Hannah (Farr) and her family were certainly living there by then.

The School.

    The school was built on a corner block of land of about 2 acres, one side facing Doveton Street and the other facing Dana St. The original building, used by Charles, faced Doveton Street, and was variously known as the "Doveton Street School", the "Ballarat Township School", the "Ballarat National School", the "Ballarat West School". Later on when the new buildings facing Dana St were opened in 1876, it was known as the "Dana Street School" the name by which it is known to the present day.

Preparatory Action in Ballarat.

    A letter written by the secretary of the Education Department in 1969, to Les Rodd, the Head Master of Dana Street School at the time, states that "Initial moves for founding this school, which was formerly known as the National School, Doveton St, were made in 1854, by W. H. Williamson, Hon Secretary of the Local Patrons of Ballarat".
    A recent article in the Ballarat "Courier" by the president of the Ballarat Historical Society gives some details of these early days -
    Before a National School could be founded, local subscriptions had to be raised and then a land grant would be considered. There was concern as to the floating populations on the goldfields. However, a report of the time said, "We see no reason why the residents should not be called upon to subscribe in the same ratio as people in other parts of the colony."
    There were various regulations with which the local board had to comply before the National School Board would grant funds to finance the new school, one of which was that the words "National School" and no others had to be conspicuously displayed, and also that political meetings could not be held, nor public worship, and the commissioners could not control the use of the school on Sunday, such control being left to local patrons. There were no universal school fees, it being up to the patrons to set them locally, and dispensation could be made for poor families.
    Land was granted for the school on 5th August, 1854, and the "Board of Local Patrons" (the future school committee) convinced the Commissioners in Melbourne that the need for a school existed, that they had an eligible site, and that they were prepared to raise by local contribution a portion of the sum necessary for the building.
During 1855 the plans were drawn up. Building commenced early in 1 856 and preparations were made for the new school to be opened the following year. £400 was allocated by the government for the Ballarat Township School building, and £100 was allocated for furniture and fittings. The school was designed by Backhouse and Reynolds, and it was the first National School in West Ballarat.
    In March 1856 a shaft of nearly 300 feet was sunk by the Grand Junction Goldmining Company near the corner of Doveton and Dana Streets, (the site of the School) and more than £9000 worth of gold was retrieved. Nearby the bluestone National School building in Doveton St, within the present Dana St Primary School complex, was built The shaft was near the old office steps of the present primary school (not built until 1876 at the time Mr Martin left) and the children now play on what was the old mine dam.

2nd February, 1857. School Commences. (Charles Aged 29).

    All the preparations had been made for the commencement of the school. The circular had been distributed around Ballarat giving details of the curriculum, fees, etc, and the Ballarat "Star" had announced -
    "THE TOWNSHIP NATIONAL SCHOOL - We are glad to observe that the National School, Dana Street, will be opened for educational purposes on Monday next. Mr and Mrs Martin have been appointed teachers of the school."
                                        Advertisement in the Star               Pamphlet for the School               The first Plan for the school       
    All that remained now was to see how many children turned up, and on Monday 2nd February, 1857, Charles and Elizabeth opened the school doors to receive the pupils. I guess it was quite an exciting time for them, and they no doubt felt a keen sense of challenge and anticipation. Charles had received encouraging reports from the District Inspectors at his previous two schools (even if the second one had been a little muted), and would have approached his task with some confidence. No doubt the work to be given to the children on opening day had been thoroughly prepared and the days activities meticulously planned. For their part, the children arrived at school a little over-awed - and listened quietly to every word spoken by the new teachers and tried their best at every task given to them.
    About 50 children arrived on the first day, and when the District Inspector visited the school a fortnight later he found that there were 55 on the roll. The ages of the students ranged from 3 to 15 - four aged 3, six aged 4, nine 5 year olds - and at the other end of the scale there were two 14 year olds and one of 15.
    So far as church affiliation is concerned (very important in those days), 20 were Church of England, 10 Presbyterian, 12 Wesleyan, 2 independent, 6 Roman Catholic and 5 of other denominations. None of the children were classified as destitute and the average amount of school fees paid by each child during the month was £2/2/4. This was considerably dearer than the other Ballarat schools. The average fee paid by students for school books during the month was 1/9d.
    The School soon after Opening Day          The School in 1857           The original school building as it was in 1997            School and Surrounds 1872

The Inspector's First Visit

    An inspector visited the school at least three times during the year. The first visit was on 16th February, and from it we learn that although the building was brand new, the furniture and fittings weren't the best (they must have just scrounged around and got some old second hand stuff)
    Monday 16th Feb - "On Monday. 16th February I visited the Ballarat Township School which had been opened only a fortnight under the auspices of Mr and Mrs Martin, the number on the rolls at the time being 55. As 2 weeks was a term of incumbency much too short to afford any criterion of the working merits of the parties in charge, I did not examine the school on that occasion but contented myself with informing the board of such things as I thought were required to put the establishment on a proper working condition. The building is a remarkably handsome one of 2 stories and 7 rooms - capable of accommodating 180 pupils and cost about £1400 but the furniture and appliances at that time were quite inconsistent with the promise outside and were of the most scanty description."

16th April - A letter arrived from the Secretary of the National School Board in Melbourne stating that it costs £3 for the coach from Melbourne to Ballarat and only £2 from Ballarat to Melbourne. Probably Charles had claimed traveling expenses, and as the amount from Melbourne to Ballarat was dearer than the other way, the secretary queried the claim. There is no indication as to how it was resolved. You never get away with much as far as money is concerned.

13th May, 1857 - Charlotte Elizabeth (second child) born.

    She was named, no doubt, after her grandmother. I guess that Elizabeth had a few weeks off on confinement leave. She must have employed a "nurse" to look after Charlotte and young Charles, who was almost two when his sister was born. At this time, Charles senior was 29 and Elizabeth was 20.
    (Charlotte was to become a "pupil-teacher" at Dana Street from 1873 - 1876, at which time she was only about 16 years of age - quite common in those days. In 1878 she accompanied her father to Port Fairy, where she eventually was to marry John Barnacle in 1883 and, after helping to found the Church of Christ there, was to move to Melbourne in 1886 where she spent the rest of her adult life.)

17th August - The Inspector Visits Again 

    "On the 15th August I visited, and on the 17th examined, the Township School at Ballarat in charge of Mr and Mrs Martin. The number on the rolls had advanced since February last from 55 to 79, but this increase was by no means what could have been attained had the school furniture and appliances been commensurate with the external aspect of the building. The amount of knowledge displayed by the pupils was fairly beyond the average of the schools on our Gold fields and creditable to those in charge. An application was made by Mr Oddie, the corresponding patron for a free grant of £200 to put the building and premises in all respects in proper order; but the commissioners were only able to offer £30 to meet the same amount of local contribution - this offer was at first declined, but later accepted."
    So the numbers had increased by almost 30, and Charles and Elizabeth received quite a warm commendation from the Inspector.

28th October, 1857. A letter from the Secretary.

    "I request that you will have the goodness to note the following correction of an error, made in my letter to you of 23rd Oct, No 28 3. In paragraph 3 for the words, "The Certificate of Provisional Class may be obtained by Mr Martin on application", read the following -
    The increased salary, consequent on this provisional class, will be paid from 1st May last, upon the presentation at this office of a proper account which should be made up to 31st August, all future abstracts being made out to the full amount."
    No certificate will be issued to the teacher until after he shall have been examined and reported upon by the Chief Inspector in terms of the minute of the 8th August, 1857.
I'm not sure of the significance of this particular certificate, but as it meant an increased salary it MUST have been important.

21st and 22nd December - Third Visit by Inspector.

"On the 21st and 22nd December I examined the Township School at Ballarat in charge of Mr and Mrs Martin. The number present was 91 - the number on the rolls 119, and the average attendance since school opened on 2 Feb, 1857 was 55. Some improvements and additions as respects school furniture, fencing, etc had been effected and the ordinary attendance had greatly increased. But on the score of attainment I found no advance upon my visit in August, the number of pupils having latterly become too great for Mr and Mrs Martin to do justice to without aid. They have accordingly applied to the commissioners for an assistant teacher of the rank of probationer. Mr Martin can no longer overtake the requirements of his rapidly increasing school without the addition of an adult male assistant, and he is willing to give any person appointed to the office his board free if the commissioners will allow him a salary of f80 as a probationer." The observation is also made that "the population in the township part of Ballarat is rapidly increasing."
    These reports paint quite a positive picture. The average daily attendance doubled between February and December, from just under 50 to just under 100. The average attendance of 55 as stated by the Inspector is at variance with the figure of 93 quoted in the official statistics. However, the inspector is quoting the full year whereas the official statistics give the average attendance from July to December, and as the school was growing during the year, the yearly average would be slightly irrelevant and misleading. So by December, there were just on 100 children in attendance each day. Charles and Elizabeth had taught without help - quite a big job, especially when the age range of the children is considered (and the fact that Elizabeth has a young toddler and a baby to look after).
    There is no hint of the disciplinary problems that were to overtake Charles later in his career. His first year at this school obviously went quite well and as school concluded for the short Christmas break, Charles would have every reason to feel quite happy with his year's work. Not only had the numbers increased significantly, but everything seemed to running smoothly, and he had received quite good reports from the inspectors, as summar­ised on one report - "The amount of knowledge displayed by the pupils was fairly beyond the average of the schools on our Goldfields and creditable to those in charge."
    So far as their salaries are concerned, Charles received £175 and Elizabeth £80, as well as £120 from school fees. The Inspector's report states that their combined income was £375. Another factor which enters into the equation is that Charles apparently had to pay for the wood and water used at the school (which were not easily obtained, according to the report). They received a rent free house - no doubt in the rooms attached to the school. Also, a report in the "Ballarat Star" newspaper some years later stated that when Charles opened the school there was a debt of £300 on the building, and that he gradually paid this off out of his own pocket.

Some of the remarks from his report were
Discipline - Good
Punishments - Moral discipline chiefly
General Tone and Aspect of School and Children - Healthy and vigorous.
Holidays - Two weeks at Christmas and one week at Easter. The school was in operation for 240 days. (NOTE - This detail regarding 240 school days was fairly standard for the times. Some 100 years later during all of my teaching life from the 1950's to the 1990's schools were in operation for about 200 days a year. The extra 40 days would make an immense difference.)

Other Events of 1857.

    Also in 1857 upon their move to Ballarat, Charles and Elizabeth joined or formed a church which became known as the "Yuille St. Close Communion Baptist Church". This church is no longer in existence. Charles was later to write - "In 1857 I came to Ballarat, and was one of the founders of the Baptist Church in Yuille St."
    Also during this year, on 3rd September, Mary Hitchcock received classification as a teacher. She had been attending the Training Institute at Carlton, which was a fore-runner to the Melbourne Teachers' College.
    Also during 1857 in Ballarat, a son was born to Hannah Featherstone, Charles' future second wife. The father's name is listed simply as "Emerson", but the child was named Henry Featherstone (Hmm! This looks a bit sus! Oh No! It couldn't be!).

Inspector's Report - 17th Aug., 1857

Enrolled - 100. Average 48. On rolls at Insp 79. Present at Insp - 53. BUILDINGS.
Material - Of brick - entirely new.
Premises - still incomplete
Number of Stories and Rooms - 2 stories, 7 rooms.
Number and Size of Rooms -1 school room 45 x 25; 2 classrooms 11 x 13.
Amount of accommodation - for about 180.

Privies - separate but quite acceptable.
General Fitness of Premises - will be adequate when fenced.


Is It Adequate? No
Are There Places for Hanging caps, Etc? - No proper place.
Are There Proper Places Putting Away Books and Requisites? No.


Is There Any Individual Instruction? - Yes, in Arithmetic.
Are Register and Records Correct? - Satisfactory.
Discipline Of School - Good.
What Rewards Are Used? - No rewards are used.
What Punishment is Used? - Moral discipline chiefly.
State of School and Children as Regards Order and Cleanliness -
General Tone and Aspect of the School and Children - Healthy and vigorous.
Holidays - Two weeks at Christmas and one week at Easter.


Charles Martin, 29 years of age. Service commenced May 1855
Elizabeth Martin, 26 years of age (she was actually 21) Feb 1856.
Date of Training and Present Classification -
C.M - British and Foreign Schools Society - 1851. 2 Div 2 Class
E.M. - British and Foreign Schools Society - 1851. 2 Div 2 Class


Aid From the Board -£150 for the master and £80 for the mistress.
Yearly Amount of Fees Paid to the School Board -£68 subject to a deduction of 1/3 to liquidate debt on building.

Teacher's Yearly Income about £330
How Hire The Incidental Expenses for the School, Such as Wood and Water for the Children, Defrayed? By the Master.




D.I. Glenn

Inspector's Report - 1857 - 21/22 Dec.

Enrolled - 121 Av 55 (Since last insp Av 65 Roll 119) Pres at insp 91
Religion - C/E 34 Pres 17 Wes 27 R/C 6 Other 12.


Material - Stone and entirely new. The roof is found to leak in places Number of Stories and Rooms - 2 stories, 7 rooms.
Number and Size of Rooms -1 school room 45 x 25; 2 classrooms 11 x 13.
Is It Fenced In? - Only a small portion.


Is It Adequate? Much improved since I was last here but more is ????


Is There Any Individual Instruction? - Yes.
Are Register and Records Correct? - Yes.
Discipline Of School - Good.
Monitors - The present one is rather ignorant for his position as monitor. What Rewards Are Used? - A few books.
What Punishment is Used? - Moral punishment chiefly.
State of School and Children as Regards Order and Cleanliness -
General Tone and Aspect of the School and Children - Healthy and vigorous.
Holidays - Two weeks at Christmas and one week at Easter.


Charles Martin, 29 years of age.


Aid From the Board - CM £175 - EM £80
Yearly Amount of Fees Paid to the School Board - £180, subject to a deduction of 1/3 for the building
Teacher's Yearly Income - £375
Are Wood and Water Easily Obtained by the Master? No
How Are The Incidental Expenses for the School, Such as Wood and Water for the Children, Defrayed? By the Master.


    Mr Martin can no longer overtake the requirements of his rapidly increasing school without the addition ??? of an adult male assistant, and he is willing to give any person appointed to this office his board free if the commissioners will allow him a salary of £80 as a probationer.


    The population in the township part of Ballarat is rapidly increasing.


Date Of Previous Inspection - 17th Aug 1857.
Have The Suggestions made at the Last Inspection Been Attended to? -
If Not, State What Particulars -

                                                                    D.I. Glenn

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