Blog Archives

More than just a name


City of Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas today presented certificates to year five and six students from Five Dock Public School who participated in the ‘More than just a name’ project.

The six-week project involved 90 students, researching 27 soldiers who worked at the Australian Gas Light Company, Mortlake. The students used iMovie on the City of Canada Bay Libraries’ portable multimedia studio to create a two-minute video commemorating the lives of the soldiers.

‘It is important that our future generations remember the sacrifice these soldiers took for our country and educating our youth is one way to ensure their memory lives on,’ Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said.

Students from Concord Public School and Concord High School are also participating in the project.

The ‘More than just a name’ student videos can be seen on youtube.

A cracker of a day

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In the early part of the twentieth century, Empire Day was celebrated on the 24 May, Queen Victoria’s birthday.

It was a day for shows of patriotism throughout the community, especially in schools. The celebrations often included fireworks, so many children thought of it as ‘cracker night’.

The photograph shows Empire Day Celebrations at Five Dock Public School in 1912. The flag also bears the name of Oban Street School, Poplar, London which may have been a sister school of Five Dock. The boy dressed in Scottish costume on the left is John Baker while the page boy behind the ‘King’ is Harold Hughes.

In 1958 Empire Day was renamed Commonwealth Day and today is celebrated on the second Monday in March.

From Five Dock to Antarctica

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On Christmas eve 1913, as the ship Aurora left Antarctica to return to Australia it was hit by a storm, making it ‘a very miserable Christmas’. It was two months before the ship arrived in Adelaide on 23 February 1914.

So ended the remarkable exploration of Antarctica which had begun in 1911 under the leadership of Douglas Mawson. The Chief Medical Officer and Bacteriologist on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition was Archibald Lang McLean. He grew up in Five Dock where he attended Five Dock Public School. He graduated in medicine from the University of Sydney in 1910.

The epic story of the expedition is recorded in Mawson’s book The home of the blizzard which is available for loan from City of Canada Bay libraries. Archibald McLean helped to edit the book for publication.

McLean went on to serve in the First World War and was awarded the Military Cross. He died in 1922 at the age of 37 from tuberculosis, a result of his war service.

The illustration shows memorabilia from the expedition presented by McLean to Five Dock Public School. This memorial unfortunately no longer exists but his name is commemorated by McLean Nunataks, a geographical feature in Antarctica and a plaque at the University of Sydney.

Peter Dodds McCormick

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Peter Dodds McCormick (1834-1916) who wrote ‘Advance Australia Fair’ had links with Five Dock.

Born in Scotland, Peter McCormick arrived in Sydney in 1855. A staunch Presbyterian, McCormick had a strong interest in music, particularly children’s choirs. He was employed for many years by the Education Department. In September 1865 he became the second Headmaster of the Five Dock School which at that time operated under the direction of the Trustees of St Alban’s Church, Five Dock.

In 1878 McCormick wrote ‘Advance Australia Fair’ under the pen name ‘Amicus’ (friend in Latin) after attending a concert which featured national anthems where he had been dismayed that ‘there was not one note for Australia’. In 1901 at the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia, it was sung by a choir of 10,000. In 1974, almost 100 years after its composition, ‘Advance Australia Fair’ became Australia’s national anthem.

A plaque commemorating Peter Dodds McCormick was unveiled in the grounds of St Alban’s by City of Canada Bay Mayor, Angelo Tsirekas on Sunday, 11 August 2013.

Five Dock Public School

Five Dock Public School began in 1861 with 36 pupils in a stone building in the grounds of St Alban’s Anglican Church. It continued as a denominational school until 1876 when it transferred to a new building with teacher’s residence in West Street, Five Dock.

The photograph above is of the ‘Boys’ school’ in about 1921. A separate Girls’ department was established in 1920.

To coincide with the 75th anniversary, Souvenir of the Five Dock Public School Jubilee, 1861-1936 was published, recording the early years of the school. This booklet is now quite rare so it has been digitised and added to Canada Bay Connections image library.

What are your memories of Five Dock Public School?