Silverton School reached its 10th anniversary as an Educational Museum in 2019.
But its delightful history as a school began in 1884, when it was first opened as a New South Wales Education Department tent!
The Silverton School Educational Museum offers a really unexpected museum experience in the middle of the Outback. If you are someone who remembers writing with pen or ink, or even board and a slate ‘pencil’, a visit may just overwhelm you with memories. And if you are younger, take a journey way down into the history of colonial settlement schooling in Australia.
Where we are
The Silverton School Educational Museum is in Loftus Street, Silverton, NSW.
When we’re open
The Silverton School Educational Museum, closed because of volunteer illness, will re-open on Friday 9th June. It will then be open on Saturday 10th, Sunday 11th and Monday 12th of June.
Opening times: the Silverton School Museum is usually open Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 9 to 3.30, unless we otherwise advise.
You can contact the Coordinator, Marlene Bettes, when booking old world class visits and lessons too, whether you are a school or older touring group, via:
- Telephone 08 8088 7481
- Mobile 0448 882 550
- Email email@example.com
The entry fees are by cash only:
- Adults $4.00
- Child (school age) $2.00
The Silverton School did, indeed, open as a NSW Education Department tent. The first teacher was Mr Mackie who, for the initial year, also lived with his family in a tent.
But in 1885 the Education Department built a wood and iron school classroom to suit 60 pupils, and a residence was built for the teacher and his family.
Although the school was initially built to hold 60 pupils, this number rapidly grew to over 140. The highest number of pupils, 293, was reached in or around 1890. Transportable classrooms were then added. It was the fourth teacher who taught at Silverton, Joseph Watts, with co-teacher Mary Cameron (later Dame Mary Gilmore), who successfully agitated through publicity for a new larger school building.
In 1888 the current school building was built. It was different then to now, having an open fireplace and galley seating for students and longer windows. The blackboards were at the side rather than at the front of the schoolroom, and the front of the class was facing the long side of the building to the left as you walk through the door.
The Silverton School closed, as a school, in 1970.
The Broken Hill Historical Society took over the Trust of the Silverton School building in 1977. For a time, the building was used as a place to store items. A local family then leased it for several years and ran a craft and tea shop.
At the point at which the Silverton School Educational Museum Sub-Committee began to put the room together in 2008, the public had access to the building as a museum.
The school was dedicated as an Educational Museum, and formally opened, on Sunday 7th June 2009.
Some former Silverton School students and one former teacher gathering
after the opening ceremony in front of the Silverton Educational School Museum
Schools from the local region and even further afield regularly book a visit at the Silverton School Educational Museum and ‘have a lesson’ as if they were back in time.
Visitors from the third class of Irymple Primary School, Mildura in 2018
Recently Gary Cook, member and former Society Secretary, has shared a little of his research from Trove, with stories from the early history of Silverton in 1887 and 1930 newspapers.
The first is:
Silverton Past and Present (1887) Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 21 September, p. 7 (PDF), also available from Trove.
The second is:
Early Silverton (1930), Barrier Miner, Wednesday 13 August, p. 3, (PDF), also available from Trove.
Another good starting point for further information about the Silverton School Educational Museum can be found at the Broken Hill City Council site, under Outback Museums.