East Rockingham School -an impressive early building

Long before Kwinana was planned, a limestone block school was built in 1865 in what was then known as East Rockingham and which later became Kwinana. It stood on the north east junction of Mandurah Road and Wellard Road and consisted of one school room and one room for the teacher’s quarters. On Sundays Tom Smirk, a ticket of leave man, also used the school room to conduct church services. The school was diagonally opposite the Rockingham Road Board offices which were built in 1905. A new teacher, Albert Hayes, complained so much about cramped space in the original limestone school that a new school was built in 1933 across in Office Road of prefabricated materials, although there would have been room to have extended the original building. In November 1938 the old limestone block school was officially opened as a place for meetings, church services and occasional social dances, and renamed the Pioneer Settlers Hall. In 1940 it became the East Rockingham Public Memorial Hall and was transferred to the protection of a board of trustees comprising descendants of early settlers to the area. The trustees let the hall to the military during the Second World War to provide some training, which resulted in the hall being renamed the East Rockingham Patriotic Memorial Hall. During the 1950s industrial development began to take over the district and the building attracted scant interest by the authorities in being preserved. In early 1966 a fire caused some damage to the building and to everyone’s surprise, the building was demolished some weeks later. Only Cape Lilac and Tuart trees believed to have been planted by the earliest pupils remained as a testament to all the activities that had taken in place in what is thought to have been the oldest school building in Western Australia. [The land has now been cleared for a Caltex petrol station, December 2015].

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