The 1930s: Continued Improvement

Throughout the 1930’s the standard of education and training for the Narrogin School of Agriculture continued to impress. The students were admired for their sturdy appearance, energy, enthusiasm and marked skill. The fame of the school was now nationwide. There were now 80 students and life was much the same as it had been in the 1920’s.  Considerable effort was now made to make the non-agricultural subjects relevant to farmers, with the exception of English where the old disciplines of grammar were paramount. This included limericks such as the following one aimed at Joe Sneddon the Carpentry instructor:

There was an old fellow called Joe

Who everyone here ought to know

He is fond of giving work

To the boys that shirk

And his motto is Be thorough or go.


By 1938 farm stock had increased, with the farm running 850 sheep, 40 pigs, 32 horses, 42 dairy cattle and 400 poultry birds.

The pattern of sport changed in 1930. Tennis was still played although it had declined in popularity, cricket was still played and surprisingly football was in a decline largely due to hockey being introduced into the town. Mr Shugg was keen on hockey and became a patron of the new town association.  A new young housemaster, Gordon Appleton became the schools hockey coach, Gordon had been a state sprint champion and helped enthuse the school athletics training.  The new orchardist Jack “Boss” Mavor also started taking the boys for gymnastics and callisthenics.

Overall this was an idyllic period for most students especially considering the Depression was felt for much of the 1930s although there was still serious concern about the accommodation and the facilities. The students living quarters were becoming sub standard.  Funding was the stumbling block.  The government eventually provided 2700 pounds towards extensions. The long delayed brick dining room and kitchen block was erected to the west of the quarters.

By 1937 as international and national economic conditions continually improved the school was connected to the town power supply and the town water supply.

Mr & Mrs Shugg retired and the new principal was Mr William Shelton, an elderly scholarly man who tried to bring NSA more in line with Muresk. Mr Shelton also tried to make life easier for the first year students by mixing them up with the old-boys as much as he could -although he was quite not game enough to put them in the old-boys section of Park Lane and Rotten Row.

Sadly by the end of 1939 Australia was at war.  At the school, speakers at the gym praised the boys physical development, health and confidence and pointed out the nation would soon need physically fit men in the coming struggle.  By November 1939 Pat Cullen was in camp at Rockingham with the Narrogin troop of the 25th Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment, and several boys had left school early.  They were needed at home as farm workers began to enlist in the forces.  The coming years of war were to have a direct effect on the school.


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