LOOKING BACK: The original building at Blair State School.
LOOKING BACK: The original building at Blair State School. Contributed

Blair State School looks back on its long history

OPENING a new primary school in the heart of Ipswich at a time when Australia was in the grip of a long and bloody world war might seem a strange idea, but that was the story of Blair State School.

Marie Fields, a long-term volunteer at the school took on the daunting task of creating a school history, to help celebrate the 100th anniversary on March 25.

"We wanted to have more than just a fete, it is 100 years, so it is important we mark this with a proper event," Mrs Fields said.

"Part of that was to create a history timeline, looking for the important events in the last 100 years."


After the 1990 fire.
After the 1990 fire. Contributed

Opened in the last years of World War One, Blair State School is close to the modern heart of Ipswich, on Burnett St, just across the rail line from Ipswich to Rosewood.

Opening its door with just a single school building, with five years extra classrooms were added to cope with the growing demand for education, Mrs Fields said.

"The school started to grow reasonably quickly, and by 1922, just five years later, new classrooms had been added."

Sadly, these classrooms were not destined to be a long term addition to the school, they were destroyed in a fierce thunderstorm in 1930.

Despite this setback, the school continued to gradually increase in size over the intervening years, as more children enrolled at the school.

By 1942, with Australia again at war, the threat of a Japanese invasion was quite real, leading to the school grounds being ringed with barbed wire and slit trenches dug into earth, to provide shelter from air attacks, Mrs Fields said.

Thankfully this threat never eventuated, and the school grounds returned to their pre-war look.

By 1958, the government's purse strings were loosened, with Blair enjoying a mini building boom.

"That year, the school added three new classrooms, a library building, a ready room and a teacher's staff room."

After surviving the 1974 floods, the school got another boost when a new toilet block was built, that still survives to this day, and planning for a pre-school started.

"The Blair State Pre-School finally opened in 1978, and was a welcome addition to the school."

A fire in 1990 cost the school a big piece of its history, when the original building was destroyed, along with a storage room, projection room and the school library.

By 2001, a new two-storey building, housing four classrooms was in use, with a covered area underneath creating an assembly and performance space.

Recognising long-serving volunteers Rita Langer and Dell Black in 2009, with the new hall and library named in their honour.

"Blair did very well on the sports front, with former Kangaroos John Brown and Allan Langer, as well as cyclists Hillary Pocock and Helen Tooth all former students."

To celebrate the 100th anniversary, the school will hold a fete, including the unveiling of a time capsule, rides, food, cake and book stalls, as well as live dance and entertainment acts.

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