Looking back: The early days of Tanja school education

THE Bega Pioneers' Museum has countless files on people and places. This history was researched and written by Robert Russell on the occasion of the Tanja Public School Centenary in 1978.

On the board: Thomas Taylor and wife. Mr Taylor was on the original school board of the Milford School (later Tanja School).

On the board: Thomas Taylor and wife. Mr Taylor was on the original school board of the Milford School (later Tanja School).

OFF his own bat W H Braine had started the Milford private school in March 1878 in a room in his house at Tanja.

In June of that year the school inspector came to see into the application for a provisional school and noted that Braine had started teaching about six months before that date.

However it was only since the beginning of June that he had the number of students for which a salary to a provisional school teacher could be claimed.

At this date no site for a permanent school had been fixed on.  Meanwhile Mr Braine was willing to use the room in his house, but he desired recognition as a teacher of the school.

The inspector said “he was well liked and respected”.

Also in June of 1878 a local school board had been nominated. T J Kelly was secretary, with Thomas Gillard, Thomas Taylor, John Sercombe and Thomas Russell as members.

The Milford School applied for the following: One blackboard, one box chalk, one map of the world,  one map of NSW, two dozen slates, one gross medium pens, one dozen books each 1.2.3, half a dozen 2A 2nd books, one set reading tablets, two packets of ink powder and one small globe, three boxes of pencils, three dozen pencil holders, one set of school records supply of return forms – F.

In September 1878 the council agreed to a provisional school and the inspector recommended the appointment of Mr Braine as teacher and that appointment was made official on October 9, 1878.

Mr Braine said that as the recently opened Post Office was called Tanja, the school should have that name too. It was said that because of ill feeling about the man Nelson, Messrs Kelly, Gowing and Braine had the name changed to Tanja, adopted and gazetted.

Still in September 1878, residents sent a letter to the Department of Education explaining their need for a school and that Mr Braine's school was fulfilling that need.

However Mr R R Bligh had also applied for a public school at Barrabooka, to be built near his residence and that Inspector Maynard had replied favourably to that request.

The letter went on to say that there were altered circumstances regarding that locality.

Since January, a sawmill, adjoining Mr Braine's resident, employed four of the letter writers and was now regarded as the business centre of the district with teams carrying timber and returning with household goods.