Founded in 1850, State School No. 483—first known as Pascoevale National School, thereafter as Essendon Primary School—is the oldest such institution still running in metropolitan Melbourne. Lying eight kilometres north-west of the CBD, it is characterised today by its too-little land, its core of 1920s buildings and its funny motto, the poetry-derived Follow the Gleam. More than the sum of these disparate parts, Essendon Primary is also a focus of the aspirations and endeavours of the surounding suburban community.
This history traces continuities and changes experienced by stakeholders from foundation to sesquicentenary. Stories about themes old and new were pieced together from old documents, recollections of former students and teachers, and the written and drawn responses of present-day pupils.
Part One, Building and Dreaming, dwells on the school’s early years. It covers non-denominational National schooling 1853–63, unified Common schooling 1863–72, and free and secular State schooling 1872– until the emergence of Essendon Primary as we know it today.
Part Two, Themes, focuses on the 1920s and beyond. Anecdotal and atmospheric, it considers the changing cultures of teaching and learning.
Readers will come to appreciate what we have built and from whence we came—as a school, a suburb and indeed a state. All history is local, after all.