Mount Pleasant Primary School

In  2018 there has been a question asked whether the Mount Pleasant Primary School is the oldest continuing classroom in the state. With research we can say that  ….

There was a school at Mount Pleasant in the second half of 1857. Jane & Ann Freeman (sisters) rented the Bible Christian Chapel in mid 1858 and conducted a private school. (A comment was made in The Quiet Waters By)

Jane Freeman was at Gawler Town for the first half of 1857. A Miss Freeman applied for a licence in June 1857. Jane was then recorded as teacher at Mount Pleasant in second half of 1857 with 37 students and the school had been issued with a NEW licence.  It has not been determined just where this schoolroom was.  An inspection was carried out on 30 November 1857.

A letter from Miss Jane Freeman stated her intention of resigning her licence at the end of the present quarter of 1858 in favour of her sister, for whom it was requested a form of application might be forwarded in order that she might apply in the regular way. Resignation accepted. Application form ordered to be forwarded.

Anna (presumably Ann) Freeman was the teacher recorded for the first half of 1858 with 35 students, and again for the second half of 1858 with 40 students. Then she resigned. A licence for the new Mount Pleasant school is issued in May 1858. Ann Freeman is listed as the teacher at Mount Pleasant from May 1858 to December 1860. The school inspection is carried out in October 1858.   The Bible Christian Chapel officially opened on 15 & 16 August 1858. In the report for the second half of 1859 she is still listed as teacher with 52 students, and a comment that there is a ‘remarkably large and regular attendance for an outlying district. The children are orderly and make tolerable advancement. The school-room, private property, is much too small’. It could be said that the ‘private property’ was the chapel because at that time it would have belonged to the church and therefore was not public or government property. As for being much too small, well it would be with 52 students in there! It’s too small when there are 28 children in there!!

The May 1861 report for the year ending 31 December 1860 lists Ann Freeman with 47 students and the comment that the school is ‘now’ carried on in a chapel partly built for the purpose.  The current building was purchased by the Talunga District Council in March 1862, however we know the church ceased in 1861 and perhaps there were some modifications or additions made to the original building hence the ‘partly built for the purpose’, comment. Ann Freeman died in February 1861, from consumption (according to The Quiet Waters By), and she is buried (possibly the first burial) in the Mount Pleasant Public Cemetery now known as McBean Cemetery on Golfcourse Road.

Elizabeth Freeman is teacher at Mount Pleasant during 1861, with the Inspector’s comment in December … A remarkably large and regular attendance for an outlying district. The children are orderly, and make tolerable advancement. The building in which the school is conducted was formerly used as a place of worship, but is now exclusively devoted to school purposes. The first Annual Examination was held in 1862. Rev. Boake undertook the examination assisted by Mr. Melrose and Mr. Bennett. A Head Teacher’s residence was attached to the eastern side in 1865, at the cost of £73.

Elizabeth Freeman continues as teacher until 1877, after which she marries John Loutit.

A private school for both boarding and day pupils, the Totness Grammar, was started in July 1868. Henry Giles Snr. provided the accommodation in which the Misses Giles and Loutits taught.  Mary Ellis provided music tuition.  The Totness Grammar closed during 1870.

In 1878 another private school was started by Florence and Edith Giles, in the two storey house on the Mount Pleasant-Springton road, known as Kent Farm. This school only existed for a short time.

In 1876 the New Education Act came into being in South Australia and in 1876 the Talunga District Council transferred its building to the Council of Education, and Matthew Prior was appointed male assistant and eventually became Head Teacher.

In March 1920 Mr. L. McBean treated the school children to a trip to Adelaide to welcome Capt. Ross Smith. 52 scholars attended with a visit to the Botanic Gardens before going to Northfield to see the plane descend and rise again.

On the 26th November 1920 the annual picnic of Hills Schools was held and the students travelled to Glenelg by train.  The children enjoyed paddling and swimming and had rides on a merry-go-round and a motor boat.

In 1933 the Palmer and District Schools Association was established and the Annual Spring Athletics competition was started with Mount Pleasant School attending for many years. A highlight was the march down Palmer’s main street to the oval.  Marching practice occurred for weeks prior to the sports day.

In later years the school has been prominent in promoting environmental issues in the district including River Torrens revegetation, KESAB water watch and the building of a native animal enclosure.

In 2008 the school celebrated 150 years. The original school room is still being used and the original stone work was uncovered in a restoration.


The other school vying for longest held classroom is Williamstown School…


South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 – 1889), Thursday 16 December 1858, page 3

The Williamstown School – from a newspaper report A letter was received from the Chairman of the District Council at Mount Crawford enclosing plan and specification of the school buildings at Williamstown Victoria Creek and & soliciting a vote of money from the Board in aid of the completion of the same. The cost of the buildings was estimated at £370/, of which there had been collected and promised £170/. A certificate from Mr George Warren, superintendent of the works as to the amount of work done was enclosed. Mr Warren estimated the value of the works done apart from the value of the materials laid down at £220/-. The Board did not feel at liberty to advance till half the estimated cost of the building should have been expended.

Also article re laying of foundation stone at Williamstown in November 1858.|||l-decade=185

Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904), Saturday 21 August 1858, page 8

Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904) Saturday 13 March 1858 p 2 Article

The Quiet Waters By… Reg Butler… p.226

Government Gazettes on-line

Centenary booklet