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Tempe Public School

The name of Tempe originates from Tempe House which was built in 1836. This was the residence of Mr Alexander Brodie Spark, a merchant of the early days, and was designed by the architect John Verge as an Italianate villa. Spark laid out the streets of St Peters and Tempe in the 1840’s and named his house after the beautiful Vale of Tempe that was located beneath Mount Olympus in ancient Greece.

The first application for the establishment of a school at Tempe was made in March 1863 by local patrons .The application pointed out that there were about 40 children of school age in the locality. On 18th November, 1872, a petition was sent to the Council of Education requesting the establishment of a Public School at Tempe. The residents had  committed themselves to raise 200 pounds ($400) by local subscriptions for the erection of  a school house, teacher’s residence, outhouse and fences.

The proposed site involved one acre with a frontage to Unwin’s Bridge Road. Unwin’s Bridge Road was named after Mr Unwin , a lawyer and bridge builder. The land was to be the gift of hon. Thomas Holt, M.L.A. A stone building was erected to accommodate 60 pupils with a teacher’s residence.

Opening of the school building in 1874.

Tempe Public School

The opening of the new school was a great event for the residents of Tempe. Among the distinguished people present was Henry Parkes (later Sir Henry and Minister for Education) and Miss Holt, daughter of Hon Thomas Holt.

53 pupils enrolled during the first few days. The following year there was over 100 pupils. In February 1899 there were 247 pupils , 6 teachers in the primary and 3 in the infants.

In 1902 the school buildings consisted of the main stone building, a classroom, a temporary building, and two wooden classrooms. Together these buildings supplied the needs of 602 children.

In 1908 a two storey building was built on the other side of Unwin’s Bridge Rd for the Primary. The Infants remained on the old site.

Tempe was raised to Superior Public School status in February 1913. By 1914 the total enrolments had risen to 1192 with an attendance of 926. There was a teacher shortage as a result of men serving in the armed forces during World War 1 and temporary teachers, sometimes married women were employed to fill the gap.

It was decided to add six more classrooms to the existing double storied buildings on the eastern side of Unwin’s Bridge Rd. They were occupied on May 1917. Each classroom was built to accommodate 48 pupils.

By March 1922 the enrolment had risen to about 1600 children (830 in the boys Department 422 in the girls and 293 in the Infants) and it was felt that Tempe would develop into a large Junior Technical Centre.

The property Stanbury Hall was purchased. It was a substantial building (located opposite Foreman St) 

 A new building was erected on the old infants site (now the high school grounds) with the addition of a new manual training room and the re-fixing of two of the portables.

The “The Sunday News” of February 1st, 1923 carried an extensive  article on Tempe School noting that it’s motto was “Forward Australia”. The total enrolment at that time was 1802 made up of 832 boys, 461 girls and 509 infants.

Boys subjects included: English and literature, practical mathematics, social and industrial history, state industries, bench work in wood and metal, and geometrical, machine and building drawing. The girl’s domestic science school taught English and literature, mathematics, cookery , dressmaking and millinery, home management and hygiene, singing, art, botany, typewriting , shorthand and physical culture. It was further reported that evening continuation courses were attended by over 100 pupils. Subjects covered at night were English, trade mathematics, science, woodwork and drawing.

Sport at the school included swimming, football, cricket, baseball, tennis and basketball. The school became a Boys’ Intermediate High School in 1949 and from 1955 was designated a Junior Technical School.
In 1973 a modern library-laboratory block was built and the school grounds enlarged.  In 1974  a 3 storied classroom block was built. The Infant’s School was refurbished and renovated between 1979 and 1981 at a cost of 2.2 million. The work included a closed building to modify existing road and aircraft noise which at times exceeded 100 decibels. 13 new classrooms were added, library, hall and drama area, 7 practical activity areas, a canteen and 2 Audio Visual areas.
In 2009 there were 189 students enrolled at Tempe PS.   

Information has been taken from the booklet A History of Tempe Public School by B. Leaney (2003), plus newspaper articles and documents kept in the Tempe Public School Library.

A substantial file of photographs, documents and clippings on the history of the schools (Tempe High School and Tempe Public School) is stored at Tempe Public School library.

Julie Moore (Assistant Principal 2009)