James Ruse Agricultural High School Pioneers Inc.
This page was last updated: January 23, 2019

Memories of 1958 -
I can remember the school being built around us, the science block, the library, the metalwork and woodwork rooms, the administration building. I can also remember using the old Howard rotary hoe to prepare the ground for the lawn in the front of the school. Then there were the fund raisers to gather the funds for the oval. The relocation of the agricultural field from the front of the school to its current location. I guess I could carry on for hours about the schools beginning, the teachers and staff...... But another time perhaps. Great memories...... Great school....
John Reid - Graduation Year:- 1958

I remember -
I go back before we even had an oval at JR in fact I remember when Mr Mullavey was the Boss. I think he went on to become a district inspector. Mr Hoskins was the greatest. He was a man that you could talk to and I even remember when I came back to JR in 62 to try to complete high school he told me that I couldn't park my car in his car space. He also told me that if I wanted a smoke to come to his office as it would be a bad influence for the younger students to see me smoking behind the toilets. I was 18 at the time. How times have changed.

I remember one of the sports activities was crossbow shooting and we made our own crossbows from car springs. It is amazing how far a wooden dowel would penetrate several layers of corrugated iron. I remember MR. (write out a confession) Shearman the prefects master. He must have left JR with a shipping container full of "confessions".

Oh for the good old days when life was so much more simple and I was slim and had a full head of red hair with an "elvis" curl out the front and side burns down to my jaw. Mr (zorro) Berry was my class teacher and I felt his cane just about every day except those days when he had to get a new one after I had broken or hidden his present cane. He could hit very hard for such a small man.
Neal Tolly -1st year 1958

First time we beat Hurlstone at rugby -
I commenced JR when Jim Hoskin started in 1959 - and he walked into one of his morning assemblies and announced that the school would be named JRAHS - from that day on.

I did my Leaving Certificate in 1963. One highlight in 1963, was when I was captain of the 1st XV rugby team, and we beat Hurlstone for the first time. We came of age that day.
Barry Baillie  - 1959 - 1963

About the Carlo Express -
Isn't remarkable that 50ish years ago we were lucky to be able to sign our names using an ink pen plus coming to school on the steam powered Carlo express. Today we have the wonderful internet technology to catch up with old school friends. Although it still was great to coordinate a toilet flush over Kissing Point Rd. Huge thanks to Alan and Kevin for putting this all together
Dennis Loughhead - 1957 - 1961

I also recall we used to have competitions to see how many pupils we could cram in a toilet (cramming people on mini minors was the craze in those days). On a couple of occasions a group of us walked down the track from Carlingford to Clyde. The dangerous parts were crossing the bridge over the main road and the Parramatta River bridge. (Not only could one slip between the sleepers to near certain death, there was nowhere to go if a train came along.
Kevin Swann - 1957 - 1961 

The young male dog -
While the school was in the process of being built, the workers had a small depot of sand & gravel to make concrete with. It was during a recess when all the boys were under the trees in the shade the a female dog wandered in to the quadrandle and eventually laid down on the sand. Then a young male dog came in and found the female which must have been on heat for it tried to mate with her. It must have been the first time for the male for it was trying all over the female but the right place. This cause all the boys to laugh. We must have made a racket for a male teacher came out and asked what we were all laughing about. We just pointed to the direction of the workers sand/gravel area. The teacher wandered over saw what was happening, looked at the boys and walked back to the teachers room. I can only surmise that he refused the tell the other teachers for a few minutes later the only female teacher came out and went directly to the sand/gravel area. She took one look at the dogs (they were still at it), turned and look at us and while we were laughing rushed back to the teachers room.

The cavalry charge -
One morning more than half the boys were missing from morning assembly. I was standing in line where I could see between school building and the electrical power station building. The old train had arrived but there was no sign of the missing boys. What had happened was that one of boys of the missing stopped all the other late/missing boys from venturing further where they could be seen by those already in the morning parade. When all the late/missing had gathered, one of them who had brought a bugle with him sounded the US Cavalry Charge and the all the late/missing boys ran screaming into view and into the school grounds.

Silver strands -
Down the side of the grounds on Baker St there was a group of old chicken runs that had some kind of vine with large pods growing on them. Our class was taken down there one day and were told to leave the pods alone. Wrong thing to say especially before leaving us. Before long a large quantity of pods had been pulled and thrown. It was found that when the pods hid the ground they burst open and the inside silver strands floated into the air. Before long the place was covered in silver strands while we sat about looking innocent when the teachers arrived back.

History teacher -
You may remember the the history teacher, old Boggo.
When he came into our class he always carried a new full box of chalk and a new cane, but he always departed the class room without them. He would come in to the class place the box of chalk and cane on his desk in front of the class. 

Who ever was seated nearest to Boggo's desk would when Boggo's back was turned start liberating the chalk and pass it around the class. The chalk sticks would be broken into small pieces and tossed about the class when Boggo was writing on the chalkboard.  It would appear that in the position I sat in the room and the angle of Boggo to the
board his glasses acted as a mirror and could see everything I did especially when I was about to toss a piece of chalk.

His cane always took a journey around the class and Boggo could never find it. When he finished his lesson and left, the cane went down the back of the stationery cupboard near
the door. Goodness known how many canes ended up there.
Funny thing though, I always passed his tests and exams in history.

Student teacher -
I think it was in '58, 3B class, it was after a set of  exams that several student teachers were assigned to the school to gain some experience. Our class had a nice young woman. The whole class got on well with her until one dill stood on top of a desk, lowered his pants and mooned his rear at her. She never batted an eye or said anything but we never had her in our class again.

Prefect he/she - In 58 one of the Prefects (no complaints against him just that he was a prefect) that was in our class was voted to take part in a play which called for a female.  Once he was dressed up in a frock, false bust, stockings, shoes & a wig with make-up he made a lovely young woman. (Kind of backfired on all of us.) He really made the play.
Don Hutchison - 3rd year 1958

This page was last updated: January 23, 2019
Gesta Non Verba Deeds not words

From the Guest Book

Total Entries: 27 as at December 2017
David George SaundersWednesday, 3/8/17, 1:44 AM
I attended JRAHS between Jan 1959 & Dec 1961. I particularly remember Mr Hoskins, Mr Cameron, Mick Coveny,(science & ag), Mr Bingham (ag), Mr Myers (maths), Mrs Lino (english) Mrs Peterson (librarian), Mr Moore (science). I was only an average student, but I excelled at woodwork & metalwork. I became a licences plumber, drainer, gas fitter & lp gas installer. I have run several of my own successful businesses and are now retired and living in Queensland.
       From:        Toorbul, Queensland
Ian CannockTuesday, 9/22/15, 3:15 AM
Peter PopovicTuesday, 7/21/15, 3:19 AM
Class of '68 (1963 - 68) Many changes since then. Would love to see some of the old school photos up on the JR pioneers site as it would help put names to the memories of the best of times at James Ruse. I have heard that there was a fire? Would be interested in catching up with anyone from our year. I'm just happy that I can still remember that part of our lives! Thank you for keeping this site up. Pete
        From:Wide Bay Qld
Lance ReadfordSunday, 10/26/14, 6:04 PM
        From:Ballina –
David HadfieldSunday, 4/13/14, 6:25 AM
Class of 1963. Great to see 'old' faces and be able to put names to them - boy! were we ever THAT young. The school certainly has undergone some notable changes since I was there - girls! I remember our year 7 practical agricultural lessons were transplanting grass runners on the school oval. So sad to hear that Leslie Lino has departed this world, what a wonderful lady.
From:Khun Han, SiSaKet, Thailand
peter greenhalghSunday, 10/20/13, 5:39 PM
Just attended the 50 year reunion at James Ruse,an event well organized and of great sentimental value to us students meeting people we had not seen for 50 years, great shame no teachers are still living. Some of the school is still the same which pleased us old timers. Please keep up the good work,great our school history lives on,all the best. Peter G.75030
From:wodonga, victoria
Bill SinaiSaturday, 10/19/13, 12:11 AM
I'd like to attend more activities associated with JRAHS.
From:Yagoona, NSW
Glenn PaineWednesday, 10/2/13, 10:48 PM
Attended JRAHS 1978-1983. Preparing for a 30 year re-union next month and feeling nostalgic so popped onto the JRAHS site to take a look. Really enjoyed the pioneers section and seeing all of the old images of the school.
From:Sandringham, VIC
Peter SterelnyMonday, 9/30/13, 9:54 PM
Phil ChaselingThursday, 2/28/13, 4:52 PM
Ildu Monticone and myself are attempting to organize a 50 year reunion of ex -james ruse who attended any part of the intake commencing in1959 and leaving cert. 1963.[ any part or all of]Please contact me with your details and others you may know contact details of for our data base Cheers Phil
Douglas RichardTuesday, 1/8/13, 7:20 PM
From:Gunnedah NSW
David MacLeanTuesday, 12/11/12, 6:05 PM
I was a student from the beginning 1956-1958.
From:Humpty Doo NT
Peter SterelnyWednesday, 11/14/12, 8:25 PM
Hi Kevin, just snooping thru the photos. Trying to locate some '63 LC ers
Neil DavisThursday, 9/15/11, 10:34 PM
From:Mt Druitt
JeffreyThursday, 5/6/10, 12:33 AM
Tony LauSaturday, 2/21/09, 9:12 PM
I have created an updated version of the FETE Bulletin and could you replace your current one with it. It is in "PNG" format and viewers can click on the red wording and it will go to the FETE's website. Thanks for your support Regards Tony Lau
Trevor GroganFriday, 2/13/09, 3:21 PM
An excellent site. Well done.
From:19 Rigney Street, Shoal Bay
Tony LauWednesday, 2/11/09, 6:59 PM
I sent an email early yesterday to get permission to use some of your photo images for JRAHS 50th Annervissary FETE. I am still waiting for the permission. If you grant me permission I will copy it from the web.Please advise. Regards Tony Lau
Harvey GaynorMonday, 2/9/09, 5:35 PM
I am not a "pioneer" but graduated in 1982. Am currently trying to coordinate a stall at 50th anniversary fete to sell produce/display information from old boys who are actually involved in agriculture. Would love to hear from any of you who can help.
Dave HarrisFriday, 2/6/09, 8:11 PM
Have just learnt of the fabulous JRAHS Pioneers in the last 48 hrs from Ian Barnett & Alan Bell - greatly looking forward to 3rd April. Oh the memories of those exciting days in 1956 when we "turned the first sod" under the guidance of Charlie Mallarvey, Frank Parsons, "Tarzan" Waller & others. I havnt been back since 1957 - the changes in 52 years are truly amazing in so many ways.
From:Clifton Grove Orange
Barry DenisMonday, 1/19/09, 12:54 AM
Looking forward to the reunion on April 5th 2009 Thank you Kevin for all your hard work on the web site. I might have been a bit slow in saying thak you but your work is appreciated.
From:"Kuac", Tenterfield 2372
Adrian LynchWednesday, 1/14/09, 7:29 PM
Ian BarnettThursday, 11/20/08, 2:38 PM
Spoke to Kevin Swan yesterday 20th November, with great reminiscence. Also chatted with Alan Kirk last night. Please keep me informed of upcoming events please.
Greg RoeseMonday, 11/17/08, 9:28 PM
Jamie SchofieldSaturday, 11/8/08, 8:47 PM
I stated in first year in 1958 the first direct intake other than the guys from the top school,I finished the Leaving certificate in 1962, went jackarooing for two years, Wagga Ag College for three and then in 1968 joined Inghams Enterprise where I still am, doing the National planning for the company.
From:Five Dock
David ChappleMonday, 10/20/08, 3:02 AM
Leaving Certificate - Year of 1963
From:41 Ayres Road St Ives NSW 2075

An Early Memory
My association with James Ruse Agricultural High School commenced in February 1957 when, as a 12 year old, I enrolled with about 80 other boys for my first year of high school. The enrollment happened at the present school site which, at the time, was an annex of Carlingford District Rural School.

The first enrollments
The enrollees of 1957 were not the first students to arrive at this location. In August 1956 that honor went to five classes of boys across three separate Years who transferred from Carlingford District Rural School to the school’s annex, some four kilometers away, at Felton Road, Carlingford.

When we arrived at the annex in 1957 two senior years were in residence. The most senior Year of the transferring students left the school at the end of 1956 and the other two Years after completing their Intermediate Certificate in 1957 and 1958 respectively. All of the students who transferred in 1956 were gone by the end of 1958. This meant the First Year students who first enrolled in1957 were the first cohorts to complete a full high school education, to matriculation level, at the school.

In 1959 our school, which started as the annex of Carlingford District Rural School, became an independent high school, named James Ruse Agricultural High School. James C. Hoskin arrived in the same year as its first principal.

Our early teachers
From our first year we were fortunate the majority of staff, apart from being skilled and enthusiastic teachers, were also committed to the school’s broader development. They accepted additional responsibilities, for which remuneration was probably not forthcoming, to ensure the school worked efficiently and its surrounds were developed and beautified. Mr. Charles Mullavey was the teacher in charge, in 1957, with the remaining staff being Messrs Bowen (English/History), Grogan (Agriculture), Littler (English/History), Parsons (Mathematics), Pike (Metalwork), Shearman (Biology) and Simmons (Woodwork).  Mr. Stockman (Mathematics/Science) joined the staff during the year.

A wonderful relationship developed between teachers and the student body. This relationship was fostered by teachers and students working side by side on a number of school improvement projects. These included the creation of a school assembly area, tree plantings and the establishment of gardens, construction of the school oval and development of the school’s farm. The respect which grew between teachers and students moved into some longer term friendships. Personally, I had regular contact with three teachers for many years and one of these, Frank Parsons, to this day, some 60 years later. Frank continues to have contact with a number of the school’s ex-students.
We started with nine on the teaching staff in 1957.  This number grew to 17 by the time it became James Ruse Agricultural High School in 1959 and to twenty one when our Year left the school following the Leaving Certificate in 1961.

Our facilities
When we arrival in 1957, apart from land of about 7 hectares, the school consisted of a single story weather board building comprising five classrooms with a cramped staff room at one end. In addition, there was a single ablution block.

Also, there was Barrengarry House and stables, built in 1885 by an early owner of the land, but by 1957 both were in need of extensive renovations to be fully serviceable. Despite the home’s condition, volunteers prepared student lunches from the rear of the building, until the school canteen was completed. Farm equipment was stored in the stables.

Additional building construction was underway. So shortly after our arrival the manual arts block was completed followed by the school canteen and weather shed, science block and then the library. These were all single story buildings with a weather board cladding.
The original classroom block was located approximately in line with, and adjacent to, the front of Barrengarry House on its eastern side. This building, in later years and well after our time, was demolished and replaced by a two story brick construction bringing with it additional classrooms and other facilities.

By the time our Year had completed the Leaving Certificate and left the school at the end of 1961 sealed roads and pathways had been constructed, as had tennis courts, cricket nets, a glass house and further beautification of the grounds with additional lawns and gardens. Barrengarry House and stables had been renovated with the House used for the school’s administration. The first of the multistory brick classroom blocks had just been completed providing additional classrooms and special facilities for the teaching of agriculture, biology and wool science.

By the end of 1961 the farm area had undergone considerable development.  A wide variety of fruit and nut trees had been planted to join the pre-existing peach orchard. An arboretum of significant native trees was established, as was a vegetable garden which supplied produce to the school canteen. Trial plots of cereals, pasture grasses and legumes were sown to help students recognize economically important plant species. A poultry unit had been built and stocked. The plan for a piggery was in place. The grazing paddocks had been fenced and watered. The first two dairy heifers had arrived but we were still waiting for the first sheep.

My fellow students
In hindsight, we were faced with significant challenges as new students at a new school. The facilities on arrival were poor. However, I have little recollection, and believe it also applies to the majority of my fellow students, that this was a cause of concern to us. We obtained considerable satisfaction, which still exists today, at being part of and contributing to the school’s early growth and development. It was a unique experience, one which we treasure.

Also, there was no Year senior to ours in each of our last three years of schooling. We were the senior year in each. Through these years, there were no senior mentors to assist and provide guidance in all manner of things such as on the sporting fields, in student behavior, on school processes and traditions which one would normally find in a fully developed high school. However, with the support of teachers and parents I believe that as a Year we did well in these areas and laid the foundation for what the school has become.

In the early years, while success was not readily forthcoming against other schools on the sporting fields, this did not mean it didn’t exist. In 1960 a tennis team won a zone competition, the first win for any team from the school at that level of competition. In the same year individuals were selected to represent Sydney and NSW in CHS rugby league.

However, while early successes were limited, some positive signs existed for the future. By 1963 the school was starting to excel in a number of sports with rugby union being probably the standout. After beating Hurlstone Agricultural High School’s 1st XV for the first time it drew with Parramatta High School, the eventual winners of the competition in that year. Also, the school had its first CHS rugby representative.

The swimming pool and athletics track were other notable areas of early success. There were successes at zone and regional level in athletics. Our first CHS swimming champion was realised in 1963. An ex-student of the school won a gold medal at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica in the 1650 yards freestyle.

It was not only on the sporting fields, where the fledgling High School, was starting to make its mark. The Carlingford Junior Farmers Club was based at the school from 1959, the school Cadet Unit was established in 1960, the first school Play Day was held in 1960 while in 1961 The Pirates of Penzance was staged. This being the first of the highly successful school musicals held annually ever since.

School work
Academically, 1961 was a significant year for the school. This was the first year students from James Ruse Agricultural High School sat for a tertiary study entry examination. This external examination, then called the Leaving Certificate and now its equivalent being the Higher School Certificate, was a major test for both students, teachers and parents. A total of 18 students successfully passed the Leaving Certificate and of these 13 passed with honors in Agriculture, one of whom coming second in the State. Overall, this was a sound academic foundation on which to build a level of excellence for which the school is recognised.

Year book
The school’s Year Book was first published in 1959. Student records for 1957 and 1958 are poor. An estimate of student population in 1957 is about 200. Records show that by 1959 the number was 316 and by 1961 there were 362 students.

The school population
A unique feature of the school population was its spread across the Sydney Basin. By way of example, my Year in 1959 numbered 67 students. These students came from 49 different Sydney suburbs. Only three came from the school’s suburb of Carlingford and two from Epping, a neighbouring suburb. This type of distribution was a feature of all Years in those Pioneering years.

Getting to school
Each day, many hours were spent travelling to and from school. My travel time totalled four hours which included two separate bus and train journeys in each direction. This example was by no means uncommon with a number of my fellow students taking longer. This feature of the school brought with it its own form of student selectivity. It was only those students strongly committed to undertaking agriculture, as a subject, who would be prepared to make this level of commitment over five years.

Indeed, it was an honor and privilege to be part of the early history of James Ruse Agricultural High School. To have witnessed the successful careers of my fellow Pioneer students in various fields, but particularly agriculture, would have given James C. Hoskin enormous satisfaction. The ongoing social interaction, some 57 years after leaving school, between Pioneer members is indicative of the comradery and respect which still exists.

Alan Bell,  Student 1957 to 1961 ( School Captain 1960 & 1961) Compiled January 2019.

Fourteen ex-students from left: John Moore, Richard Henry, David King, Gordon Kimpton, David Cadwallader, Ian Cannock, David Sandoe, Robert Dorman, Alan Bell, John Lewis, Ross Patane, Geoff Peattie, Ray Stanford, Ian Herford at a lunch with Frank Parsons (seated) near Kempsey, NSW in April 2017.  – photo, Ian Herford.