Q & A Ironside State School

Q: Why is the school at St Lucia named ‘Ironside’ State School and how did it get this name ?

A: The name was proposed by the School Committee in a 1905 letter to the Under Secretary, Department of Public Instruction. The first paragraph reads I have been instructed to write to you re changing the name of the Indooroopilly Pocket State School, to that of Ironside State School, as that is the postal address. At the time the area was still ‘bush’ and staff were required to collect the mail at Guyatt’s ‘Ironside Post Office and Store’ on the corner of Ryans Road and (now) Sir Fred Schonell Drive*.

The school’s isolated location reflected its somewhat unusual and early beginnings. The farming families of what we today call St Lucia and Long Pocket had since the late 1850s formed the only substantial community between Brisbane and Sherwood. Known collectively as Indooroopilly, from the name of the Civil Parish on the Land Titles, their communication with Brisbane was mainly via the river.

The Indooroopilly families joined together for friendship and self-help and in the mid 1860s built a bush schoolroom/chapel on the present site of Ironside State School, a convenient central location for the children to travel. The community engaged a teacher , paid him a fee, and on a rotating basis provided board and lodging.

In the late 1860s the Queensland Colonial Government resolved to extend the provision of ‘state’ supported education and to build schools for those who could provide the land, make a contribution to the building cost, and show support with the successful operation of a provisional school. The community jumped at the opportunity and quickly raised the funds, encouraged by the donation of the land previously used for the bush school.

The provisional school proved it could maintain the minimum attendance, and with a new building, the Indooroopilly schoolhouse (colloquial) opened at the beginning of the 1871 school year with 42 pupils. Its official name was the ‘Toowong School’ (No 108). ‘State’ was added to the name in the mid 1870s to reflect this was a colonial government, rather than church supported school. Other names would follow.

By 1880 Toowong had built its own school and took the name, our local school becoming ‘Indooroopilly State School’. Ten years later Indooroopilly did the same, our local school becoming ‘Indooroopilly Pocket State School’. ‘Ironside’ must have seemed a fairly safe bet in 1905.

[For a more comprehensive history of the school refer to SLHG Research Paper 19 Education in St Lucia by Peter Brown]

*Guyatt’s Store took its name from the Ironside Estate, one of the many residential sub-divisions of local farming land put to market in the mid 1880s property ‘bubble’. William Alexander Wilson was the developer, he used his wife’s maiden name for this estate (another was the St Lucia Estate, named after where he was born)

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