Preston West Primary School, located at 383 Murray Road, West Preston, opened on 28th January 1915 and was the third state school to be opened in Preston.
Initially the school was a three story brick building with eight classrooms. It had 233 students, a head teacher, two assistant teachers and four junior teachers. The first Head Master was Mr John Danaher, who remained at the school until his retirement in 1924.
In September 1916 the school was closed for a month due to some of the children contracting diphtheria, and it was thought that someone attending the school may have been a ‘carrier’. In June 1919 the school was again temporarily closed and used as a hospital due to the Spanish influenza pandemic. Classes for the 267 students were established at the Shire Hall, All Saints Hall and the Rechabite Hall until the school reopened in late August.
In 1919, the Department of Education bought 1.2 hectares in Duffy Street for 480 pounds in June 1919. Seven classrooms of brick were built on that site for 8209 pounds, and these classrooms opened on 12 March 1924. By then the school had almost 350 children with large infant classes, a sign of the large number of young families moving into the area. In 1924 Miss Marshall, a junior teacher had 81 children in her classroom. Only in Grades 6, 7, and 8 were class sizes below 40 in number.
By 1925 enrolments had reached 818 and further extensions to the school were added by August that year. To cope with the growing population of the area and to alleviate overcrowding, three new schools were built in Preston in 1928; Sylvester Grove School, Bell State School and Preston Girls’ High School.
In 1935 the headmaster of the school was Mr J. Matthews who led a staff of 25 teachers. By this time the school had expanded to 22 classrooms with a total of 1073 scholars.
With the outbreak of World War 2 and the threat of a possible Japanese invasion, trenches were dug around the school perimeter, and staff and pupils had to undertake drills for possible air raid attacks. During this time, the plumbing system failed in July 1942 and staff and pupils had to attend neighbouring schools for a week until the problem was rectified.
By May 1958, there were approximately 950 students attending Preston West. At that time the School was also declared a training school for the Melbourne Teachers’ College. In 1960 a ‘Country Infants Class’ was established to assist trainee teachers in completing their teacher training under the guidance of experienced primary teachers. Some portable classrooms were established in the southwest corner of the school grounds to accommodate the numbers.
Carroll, Brian & Rule, Ian (1985). Preston: an Illustrated History. Preston: City of Preston.
City of Preston (1935). Preston Jubilee celebrations: 1885 – 1935. Preston: Author.
Forster, Harley W. (1968). Preston Lands and People. Melbourne: Cheshire.
Preston West Primary School 2007, A short history of Preston West Primary School, from