Much of this article is drawn from an oral history recorded by Mr Harold O Hannaford in 1973.
The original Belair School was opened c.1912, probably by Mr. Price, a Member of Parliament.
The first Headmaster was Mr. Nadebaum. There were approximately 45 students and one teacher.
The Headmasters and Mistresses who followed in Mr. Nadebaum footsteps were Miss Lee, Mr. Fielding, Mr. Barringer, Mr. Colbatch and Mr. Verral.
The building was built very slowly with only one layer of bricks laid each day. No explanation for this is provided in the interview with Mr Hannaford.
The leaders of the committee that oversaw the building of the school were Mr. Gooch (the original Chairman), Mr. Halstead, Mr. F. Jones and the Hon. G.R. Laffer.
By 1957 the school had become too small for the student population and work began on a move to a new site on the Belair to Blackwood (Main) Road.
The then Minister of Education Mr. Baden Pattinson LLB, MP officially opened the new Belair School on 14th November 1958.
Mr Jennings was the first headmaster for the new school and the contractor was Peake Construction Co.
There has been significant growth over the years, including the co-location of Belair Primary and Junior Primary on the Main Road site in 1997. Sixteen years later the two schools formally amalgamated under banner of Belair Primary School, catering then for about 550 Reception to Year 7 students.
The Belair Primary celebrated the graduation of its final cohort of Year 7 students in 2021, as a consequence of a State Government decision to make that the introductory level at high schools from 2022.
The old School
In 1959, St. Johns Grammar School purchased the old school building and opened under leadership of the Rev. Hewitson. There were about six teachers and 50 children, both infant and primary. Sometime later a separate building was built for the pre-school and now St Johns Grammar on Sheoak Road caters for primary to grade six.
Mr Hannaford’s recording includes the following credit:
“I would like to thank: Mr. A.D. Hannaford, Mr. Gordon Brown, Mrs. Setterfield National Park, Mr. Jim Drummond, Sister Gloria Retreat House, Mrs. L.H. Laffer, Rev. Anthony Taylor, Mrs. J. Thomason, Mrs. C. Gribble and Mr. R. Halstead for help with this project.”
The original recording and full transcript of this oral history is held in CVDNT’s library and was transcribed by Ashley Phillips, a CVDNT volunteer in 2012. In addition to the story of Belair Primary School, it covers Blackwood Community Hospital, National Park, Monalta, Retreat House, the Laffers, Holy Innocents, Railways and the Halsteads.