1910 Antipodean Visitors to Lower Mitcham School

ANTIPODEAN VISITORS.
MR. AND MRS. WALKER, OF MITCHAM, AUSTRALIA, AT MITCHAM.

Two interesting visitors on Tuesday were Councillor and Mrs. Walker, of Mitcham, in the State of Victoria, Australia, who came to have a look at the day schools and receive a Union Jack and a case of essences, with which they were officially presented on Empire Day. That ceremony was reported in the “Advertiser.” but it may be well to recall the principal facts. On that day the school children gathered at Park-place to welcome Mr. and Mrs. Walker, who came the authorised representatives the State school of Mitcham, Victoria, to present an Australian flag, a sprig of eucalyptus, and photographs to the managers. It was an interesting event, and the visitors were favourably impressed with what they saw. But they had no opportunity then of inspecting the schools with the children at work, and they were invited to return later on.

So it came about that on Tuesday morning they were met at Mitcham Junction Station by Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Chart, with whom they drove to the Lower Mitcham School, after short stay the way at the Roman Catholic School facing the Green. They arrived at lower Mitcham as the scholars were at play, and were able to see them under the most natural conditions. While Mr. Walker expressed himself as delighted with the discipline he could hardly fail to notice the miserable way many of the boys were shod. Several, in fact, were not shod at all, and were running about with bare feet and the most ragged of clothes.

At the end of play time the boys filed into the large hall of their department, where the headmaster, Mr. Clarke, introduced to them Mr. Walker and his wife, mentioning the circumstances under which they paid their previous visit.

Mr. Walker, in the course of a few words to the audience, said he was delighted to be present and to renew his acquaintance with the teachers and scholars. He was glad to find the school in such splendid condition, and the scholars with such a happy and healthy appearance. Particularly was he pleased to see them at play, and to notice the attention they paid to the headmaster’s whistle. As they grew up he hoped they would always be regardful in the same manner of the authority that they might serve. It was a credit to the headmaster to find them so well trained, as it was to the boys themselves. As he looked round he was inclined to think that they had not all equal opportunities, but during his journeys in England he had come to understand that everybody had an equal chance, and it depended upon them as to what they would do with the opportunities that were given to them. He knew what boys’ difficulties were and what they had to do; but now was the greatest opportunity of their lives, and they should make the most it. Then he told them that they belonged to a great Empire, and would have their place in it when they grew up; and, in conclusion, he wished them all happy future and hoped that the district would have reason to be proud to know that some of them had risen to fill high positions in the commercial and political world.

The boys responded to these sentiments with three ringing cheers.

Mr. Clarke declined to take himself all the credit for the discipline the school, which he said was largely due to his assistants. They thanked Mr. Walker very much for coming, and hoped that the boys would bear in mind something of what he had said.

Shortly afterwards the party left for the Singlegate Schools, where the Union Jack in an oak box and the case of distilled essences of lavender, peppermint, and other products of Mitcham, given by Mr. R. A. Bush’s firm, were presented to Mr. Walker. He and Mrs. Walker had lunch with Mr. R. M. Chart, and later in the day returned to London. They expect to leave for Australia next week by way of New York and Vancouver, arriving home at the beginning of December.

Source: Croydon Advertiser and East Surrey Reporter – Saturday 17 September 1910 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

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