School Histories

The Coast (Long Swamp) School

By Heather Wade, 2017

A wooden hall known either as the Harvey Coast Hall or Long Swamp Hall was built on land reserved in 1906 for Anglican Church Purposes at the north-east corner of Wellington Location 673 approximately twelve miles west of Harvey on Forestry Road. The hall was opened in 1906 and from 1908 to 1915 was used as a school known as the Coast School or Long Swamp School. It was sold in 1919 to Dr Joel for £27; the money was put towards Harvey Rectory repairs.[1]

In the WA State Records Office, correspondence for the Coast School commenced in 1911 so newspapers fill some of the gaps.

The Parish Room was opened on Christmas Day 1906 by Rev. WH Boake and at 3pm a record congregation attended the service. On Boxing Day night a Dance was held where thirty couples graced the dance floor. Participants were grateful to the contractors, JBF Clarke, who allowed them to use the hall although it was not quite finished.[2]

It appears that the hall was still incomplete as ‘Correspondent’ from the Australind area cuttingly wrote in September 1907, ‘What is known as the Parish Hall at Long Swamp, which was really constructed for use as a school room, is not yet finished. Perhaps in another decade or so it will be ready for children of those who should be attending school there now.’[3]

The Hall provided a meeting place for the people of the area. Apart from church services and evensong, reports of three dances made the newspapers in 1907 but the number dropped to one the following year. Two weddings were reported in 1911. The hall also served as a polling venue for State and Federal elections.

Rev. Max Weldon who had been appointed as a member of the School Board of Harvey by the Education Department reported in August 1909 to the Brunswick District Board of Education that he ‘had visited the Coast School at Long Swamp, and considered that satisfactory progress was being made.’[4]

In August and September 1910 tenders were called by the Public Works Department (PWD) for the Coast Tent School Quarters and the Particulars could be obtained from the Bunbury and Busselton Courthouses. The lowest tenderer was JH Gibbs of Bunbury who was given the contract.[5]


The teacher’s quarters, also known as tent quarters because they were made of hessian, were erected by the PWD and completed in January 1911.

On 24 April 1911, Frederick J Thorp, head teacher, reported to the Acting Inspector of Schools that he had started at the Coast School and found it in a neglected condition. He went on to explain that the front door had been eaten by white ants and was in pieces on the ground outside. One window had the lower pane of glass smashed and another window required a catch. The back door lock needed attention. The school table had the top forced off and so it was loose. The lock on the cupboard had gone and so it could not be locked. Outside the boys’ closet was minus the door and roof, only the walls and floor remained but the girls’ closet was in good order. And lastly, the school roof leaked in places. In May, Archie Crampton of Harvey wrote to the Department and lent his weight to the complaints. The PWD was asked to effect the repairs as early as possible by the Department.

In May of 1911 the Acting Inspector General of Schools informed the Under Secretary of the PWD that the quarters required another coat of oil or paint. In late August, Thorp informed the Department that the repairs had been completed by Hough Bros of Bunbury, the outside was painted with ‘Indeliblo’ and the windows and doors had been planed to make them fit.

In late June, Thorp reported that the damages to premises had not been repaired and that the breakages had been noted by Inspector Miles in his visit to the school on 15 May 1911. He again listed the damages. On 5 August 1911, John Partridge, Hon. Sec. of the Brunswick Community of School Management wrote to the Department reinforcing that urgent repairs were needed. He also asked if there was any prospect of the Works Department sending a man down to do them as once; if not, he said that he would put a local man on the job, but was asking such action to be sanctioned. The Inspector General telephoned the Chief Architect’s Office and was told a contract had been let for the work.

Mr Thorp informed the Department that a heavy jarrah branch had fallen very close to both the school and quarters during a south west gale at midnight on 18 August 1911. The quarter’s fence was slightly damaged and several wires sagged badly. A week later he wrote that there was a large dead red gum within 30 feet of the school quarters which the settlers considered very dangerous. He described it as 50 feet high and warned that should it fall it would inevitable demolish the teacher’s quarters and if at night, would probably cause the death of the teacher. He felt that if it escaped the spring gales, the first bushfire may cause it to fall. Thorp enclosed the lowest quote. The Department asked for the work to be done.

The tree was felled by Mr G [George] Jones from Long Swamp, the Coast Road, via Harvey. James Piggott from Long Swamp quoted 10/- for the job but had since left the locality so Jones got the job. Thorp filled in a second ‘Form 10’ for Mr G Jones, ‘Fern Hill’, Coast Rd via Harvey. He told the Inspector General that as the work was extremely urgent Jones performed the work which took six hours of hard chopping to fell the tree, but as a consequence he lost a day’s pay at his own work. Thorp warned that it was becoming exceedingly difficult to obtain contractors for the petty jobs because the settlers would not leave their own work to do government work when payment took so long.

On 7 November the PWD Accountant informed the Chief Architect that the reason for the delay in paying Jones for felling the tree was due to the Supply Bill becoming exhausted and consequently a large number of accounts chargeable to Revenue had to be held over. On 14 December 1911, T Pinner from Harvey asked for payment for clearing a tree from the fence. The reply from the Department was that Mr Jones had felled the tree and he had been paid, and that no record could be found of the work Pinner referred to.

In November 1911 a church service was held at Long Swamp (Coast) School by Rev. J Frewer.[6]


In February 1912 Thorp reported that repairs were needed to both the school and quarters and asked if he could make an application directly to the PWD or through the Education Department. In response the Inspector General drew Thorp’s attention to the ‘Circular’ regarding school buildings and quoted that, ‘you should always communicate with your own department about matters relating to school buildings.’

The correspondence continued and on 16 February in two separate letters Thorp wrote regarding the repairs required firstly for the quarters and secondly, the school.

1) The quarters were in urgent need of repairs. The place was a hessian and jarrah building (tent quarters). The hessian was almost worn through in several places and he advised that unless the house was lined within a month, it would be uninhabitable in the cold weather. He went on to say that snakes were often found around the house and tank and could easily get into the quarters through holes and weak places. He felt that the quarters needed a coating with whitewash and also asked, if regulations permitted, for a few shelves or a rough cupboard as there wasn’t any shelving in the quarters.

2) At the school, the chimney pipe was cracked and broken and a new pipe was needed. The stove was inadequate and didn’t heat the 20 feet by 16 feet room, made worse by the school being roughly built and therefore extremely draughty. The roof still leaked. A verandah was needed to the east side of the school as the roofing was flush with the side of the building making the room uncomfortably hot as the sun beat down.

In mid-April the building inspector recommended the modifications be done to make the quarters more comfortable and described it as a two-roomed unlined canvas structure. He noted that the school was isolated.

Horace P Clarke wrote on 6 May 1912 that the key to the door at the rear of building was missing. Rain leaked in badly through the roof into the centre of the classroom while it was raining and rain also entered the schoolroom in several places where the boards had warped. At the camp the rain beat in very badly through the door whilst it also beat in at the bottom of the hessian walls.

In early June the Inspector recommended the following upgrades:

School chimney pipe required – estimate 10/-

Quarters – weatherboard lining and ceiling – estimate £28/10/-

Verandah required on to school – estimate £12.

The new teacher, Nicholas Hartley reported on 15 July 1912 to the Department that the draught pipe for stove was broken rendering the stove unusable and water entered school from the upper part of the pipe. A large quantity of water entered from the point at the apex of the roof in the centre making it impossible to use the greater part of one desk. The door to the quarters had to be closed when the rain beat in to keep the floor dry. As a consequence it was difficult to get sufficient light and ventilation from the one window.

Particulars could be attained from the Pinjarra Court House in August 1912 when the PWD called for Tenders for Petty Contracts for the Coast School with additions to the quarters. However it is not known which items were being addressed.[7]

In the 1913 and 1914 Electoral Rolls, Hartley was listed as a teacher at the Coast School near Harvey, although by January 1914, he was at Mornington Landing School which was a tent school. [See Mornington Landing School on this website.]

Correspondence stopped in September 1912 and resumed in November 1914.

1914 and 1915

Meanwhile, at the January Harvey Road Board Monthly Meeting the Health Board informed the members that two cases of typhoid fever had been reported and the secretary was instructed to make an inspection of the Coast School.[8]

The Building Report of 10 November 1914 noted that the quarters’ fence required extra posts with more wire and netting and the school required a ceiling when funds were available. On 27 February 1915 the Director of Education, Cecil Andrews, wrote to the Minister of Education explaining that the Education Department had been using the building for a number of years rent free for school purposes and Andrews thought it only reasonable the Department repair the fence and supply a ceiling and recommend approval of expenditure of £16/7/6 as suggested by the Works Department. The expenditure was approved on 3 March 1915. However, it took until July to advertise:

‘The Coast School, – Lining, Ceiling, and Repairing Fence. (Particulars Courthouses, Bunbury and Pinjarra). C. A. MUNT, Under Secretary for Public Works.’[9]

Mrs Kelly of Uduc School invited the Coast school teacher, Mr E Smith, along with the pupils and their parents to join them in the 1915 Arbor Day celebrations at Uduc School.[10]

At a Harvey Road Board Meeting in July of that year a petition was received from many residents asking that the road to the Coast School be put in better order.[11] By 15 Oct 1915 the school had just been closed and it wasn’t likely to reopen before the Christmas vacations. A memo to the Under Secretary for Works and Industries on 27 Jan 1916 informed him that the school was not intended to open at present and for the repairs to stand over.

1916 & 1917

The only activity reported at the school during 1916 and 1917 was that it was a polling place during elections.


Osborne I Crombie, of the Australind State School via Bunbury, wrote on 1 July 1918 to the Department saying that a returned soldier asked if the buildings at Long Swamp could be purchased either singly or together, and if so, at what price. A Department notation pointed out that the school building didn’t belong to Education Department [they belonged to the Church of England] and the Quarters were erected by the PWD.

On 20 July 1918 Robert Gamble, Inspector of Schools, was of the opinion that the building would not be required there again and he didn’t know where such quarters were required in his district and to where they could be removed cheaply. He explained that about half of the road from the school to Harvey was a very sandy bush track and the removal would be expensive. He recommended that if a reasonable and satisfactory offer was made by the returned soldier to accept it. The quarters were sold to the returned man for £20. A year later, Joseph Perren asked the Department if he could lease the buildings as he couldn’t afford a high price. He was told that the building had been sold and paid for.

[1] Joan Bartlett, Journey, A History of the Anglican Diocese of Bunbury, Western Australia, 1904 to 2004, edited    by Judith Argyle, Anglican Diocese of Bunbury WA, 2004.

[2] Southern Times, 3 January 1907.

[3] Southern Times, 3 September 1907.

[4] Southern Times, 19 August 1909.

[5] West Australian, 7 September 1910.

[6] Southern Times, 23 Nov 1911.

[7] South West Advertiser, 2 August 1912.

[8] South West Advertiser, 16 January 1914.

[9] Southern Times, 29 July 1915.

[10] Bunbury Herald, 24 June 1915.

[11] Bunbury Herald, 15 July 1915.