Being forbidden from dressing in bright colours seems draconian in this day and age, but that was just one of the regulations placed on teachers at the historic Silverton Grammar School in the late 1880s.
From humble beginnings housed in a NSW Government-issued tent, Silverton Grammar School grew to accommodate a roll call of almost 300 students by 1888.
Fast forward to the present day and the Silverton School Educational Museum now draws tourists and students alike to this unique attraction, just 25km north-west of Broken Hill.
It’s hard to imagine that such an interesting collection could be hiding inside one school classroom. However, a peek inside the Silverton School Education museum reveals the awesome collection including objects found in schools of the past, photographs of teachers, pupils, buildings and families in the area.
The school is set up as a classroom to depict education through the eras and consists of photos, old maps, books, educational resources and newspaper articles of the historic Silverton township and surrounding area.
School education began in Silverton in a large tent in 1884 at the height of the boom in the area and progressed to the building that is standing today. Groups can book in for a special session (a lesson like was conducted in the past, cane sitting on the desk, writing lessons with pen and ink, how to use a slate, including a talk on the history of the area and the conditions the children of the era had to survive in).
Examples of school work completed by ex-students is also on display, some of the students having being taught by noted poet, author and journalist Dame Mary Gilmour (nee Cameron), who was an assistant teacher from 1887 to 1889.
Mrs Gilmour, who features on the Australian $10 note, began writing as an eight-year-old and was still putting pen to paper in her 90s. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1937 for services to literature and later passed away in 1962.
Along with bans on bright clothes and marriage, teachers at Silverton Grammar were also expected to be home between the hours of 8pm and 6am - unless attending a school function – and were told not to “loiter down town in ice-cream stores”.
Although the school closed on 13 March, 1970, current day schools are welcome to enrol for a “lesson back in time” where students utilise slates and slate pencils and take writing lessons with pen and ink.
The Silverton School Educational Museum was officially opened on 7 June, 2009, and attracted some 6500 visitors in the first 12 months.
Bookings for school groups and others wishing to experience a class lesson must be made well in advance.
Silverton is an important tourist town located 25 minutes’ drive from Broken Hill along a sealed road. The town has a fascinating history of boom and bust but today it is a vibrant tourist location with historic buildings, galleries, a walking trail, hotel and cafe. The town has also been a location for movies, most notably Mad Max 2.
The Silverton School Museum is located on Loftus St, Silverton, NSW. Click here for more information.