Appendix Twelve: Head Teacher Dempsey’s Report to the undersecretary on the Denham, Infant School (19 February 1914) and Account of the Cornation Day Opening of the Kindergarden Room (22 June 1911)

Memo from J.J. Dempsey to the Undersecretary, Department of Public Instruction, entitled “Report on New Class Rooms,” 19 February 1914:


I have the honour to submit a report on the newly occupied rooms in the "Denham Infant School", opened by his Excellency the Governor, October 18th last.  The rooms were at first unfurnished, and therefore, were only occupied on a few days at the close of the year 1913.

The following points observed by the teachers may be found of use in planning other new schools.

1. The temperature on hot days is distinctly lower in the new (1913) rooms with a wood ceiling, than in the 1911 building with a steel one.

2. The gables have eight "benches" of gable windows instead of four (in the old buildings (erected 1890).  The iron coupled levers for opening and closing windows have been done away with.

The humidity on very hot days is markedly less in the 1913 rooms.  The teacher and children have, thus, less distressing conditions under which to work.

3. The building is placed with due attention to the prevailing winds - hence rebreathed air from adjoining rooms can only come to them in the very rare case of a N.W. wind.

4. Light is ample and well distributed, & comes at the most suitable angle.  Medical experts have called the new rooms "perfect class rooms". In effect they are open air rooms at will.

5. Hat room accommodation is not nearly sufficient.  But we get over the shortage by using some hat hooks in the under school play shed.

6. No interruption to work in the ground floor room is caused by noise from overhead.  Noise is scarcely perceptible.  There is a little noise on the staircase when a class is entering or leaving, but that is momentary.

7. The pine doors are often difficult to lock or unlock, especially in moist or very hot weather.  They swell or warp and "mortise[sic]" locks do not allow for much play of that kind.

8. There have been few chances for observing the effect of rain on the painted ceiling of the lower verandah.  I expect, that, eventually rain water will find its way through the floor of the upper balcony, and will stain the ceiling somewhat.  The rain drives through the staircase "well" in the upper balcony, and dribbles through to the underlining, down which it trickles to the bottom verandah staining somewhat the painted underlining of the staircase.  It would be difficult to prevent this happening.

Suggestions for improvement in any similar building

1. Cedar doors instead of pine, which warp and give much trouble about locks and fastenings.

2. "Box in" the stringers of the staircase so that hats may not fall through from the upper hat room to the one below (or)

3. Hat rooms might be in the basement (or playroom) and thus the verandah hat room or corridor hat room be done away with. It is rare to find hat pegs numerous enough unless they are placed all over the wall to too great height.  We use the basement or playroom for hanging up hats, and lunch bags, and so relieve the accommodation at the regular hat racks.

I have the honour to be,


Your obedient servant,

J.J. Dempsey

per J.E.B.

HT of 514[1] 


From Among the Children. Junction Park School. The Brisbane Courier, 23 June 1911, p. 7:

Yesterday was a great gala day in the annals of the Junction Park State School, not only by reason of the children's Coronation celebration, but also because it marked the opening of the infants' schoolroom, which had just been completed. Probably never before has been a large crowd of happy picnickers gathered in these roomy school grounds the children present-the majority, of course, being Junction Park scholars-numbered nearly 1000. Past scholars turned out in big numbers, and there was a proportionately large gathering of parents and friends. Without doubt, all parties spent on enjoyable and memorable day. The gates were opened at 11 am. Before noon there was a big gathering of children, and lunch was served to them. From 12.30 pm to 2 pm the scholars heartily indulged in a comprehensive sports programme, which was put through without a hitch, and subsequently a lengthy programme of a similar nature was provided for past scholars. After a fine display of physical drill had been given by the combined scholars, the latter, all wearing Coronation medals, were drawn, up, in charge of their teachers, in front of the new building…The school was to be congratulated, he [W.H. Barnes, State Treasurer and Minister for Works] said, on having such a valuable master as Mr J. J. Dempsey, who always entered so enthusiastically in everything he did. Referring to the important connection which the Premier had shown in the school in the past, he suggested that the new building should be christened the Denham School. In connection with the Coronation celebrations, Mr Barnes impressed upon his young hearers the value of loyalty and patriotism, urging them to love their country always. He also reminded them that they could be kings and queens in their own homes by being bright and happy, and helping others to be so. In conclusion he promised the children, in response to a unanimous vote of the little ones themselves, a whole holiday be next Friday. The Minister called for cheers for the King and Queen, which were given with vigorous enthusiasm. Cheers were also given for Mr and Mrs Barnes, Mr Dempsey, and others. After the massed children had sung the National Anthem Messrs E Dean (secretary of the committee) [Sic] and Dempsey briefly addressed the gathering after which the children were dismissed to continue their games. About midday the Hon D F Denham (Premier) arrived with a party, with whom he was shown over the new infant school and the swimming bath. The visitors expressed admiration for the design and appearance of the building and its equipment. Mr Denham expressed his regret that he was unable to remain for the afternoon, as he had to leave at 2 o'clock for the Exhibition Grounds. Advantage was taken of the occasion to observe an Arbor Day, and among the trees planted were two weeping figs, two hill figs, two Cunningham figs, three silver wattles (presented by P Airey, Esq ), and the “ Coronation tree” (a healthy Poinciana Regio), the last named being planted by the Hon W H Barnes. The fourth class pupils planted a hedge, fronting the school quadrangle, and the work of tree planting is to be continued next Monday. The pretties sight of the day was a very effective display of physical drill by 600 pupils, under the direction of Mr. T. Diminock, senior assistant teacher. The movements were executed with vim and precision, and the picture, framed by the crowds of parents, past pupils and visitors was an inspiring one. The sports programme was carried on with spirit throughout the day and concluded with a fancy dress football match, which evoked roars of laughter. Everybody concerned worked with a will for the great success achieved, and the teachers especially deserved the additional holiday, on June 30, granted to the school by the Hon. W H Barnes.[2]


[1] Letter from Dempsey. 19 February 1914 QSA School Files (Correspondence) 15017 for Junction Park 1890-1919, NDB  Document No 172-175.

[2] The Brisbane Courier. Friday 23 June 1911, p. 7.