Film footage of Wilston State School (ca.1954)

Among several amateur films recently digitised by State Library of Queensland is an eight minute film of an event held at Wilston State School, purportedly captured sometime between 1953 and 1954.

Dancing around the maypole.
Still from 27398 Wilston State School Archival Footage

The part of the recorded footage may depict the opening of the school's new visual education centre and library, which took place on 28 August 1954. The £6,000 centre (the equivalent of $200,000 today) was officially opened by Queensland Premier Vince Gair. A man resembling Gair can be seen at one point in the footage giving a speech in front of the visual education centre.

Is this Queensland Premier Vince Gair speaking at Wilston State School? Still from 27398 Wilston State School Archival Footage

According to the Sunday Mail (29/08/1954), the school's committee had raised half of the funds for the centre's construction with the State Government contributing the rest.

Wilston State School's visual education centre and library. Opened in August 1954.
Still from 27398 Wilston State School Archival Footage

"What the Wilston committees have accomplished together with the Government, other committees could do - if they devoted their energies more to constructive plans for self-help and less to carping criticsim and wailing appeals for help", Gair was reported to have remarked during his speech.

Aside from the formal presentation and speeches the majority of footage shows school children, parents and teachers enjoying the day's festivities, including dancing around the maypole, a performance by the school band, synchronised dancing and more.

Still from 27398 Wilston State School Archival Footage

The film can be viewed online through our One Search catalogue.

Young boy pointing out the camera.
Still from 27398 Wilston State School Archival Footage

Myles Sinnamon - Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland


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I went to Wilston SS and well remember the "new" building. It was also the site for the School Nurses who gave us injections and checked our growth and development. One picked up I had a dropped shoulder and so I had to change carrying my school case at each r o ad I crossed on thecWEDT home. It worked and I went on to play a lot of sport and join the Army. Thank you for a great trip back to the 1950s.

Hi we would love to hear all of your stories - we are compiling a book for the WSS Centenary next next year . Let me know if you are interested and I will send you my contact details. Marteena Pearl - Wilston State School Centenary Book Committee.

Thanks Marteena - my mother and her brother attended Wilston State School during the 1920s and 1930s … I have much memorabilia which I would be pleased to share.

I went to WSS from 1973-1975. My grade 5 teacher was Miss Broad, grade 6 teacher was Mr Kent and grade 7 was Mrs Fox. I remember Mrs Fox taking a Bex headache powder every morning. My daughters Jessica and Kayla Kelly also went to WSS 25 years ago. I have video of our girls on the first day at school plus in the classroom doing show and tell. In the days when you were allowed to capture video of you clip at school

I'm from the Windsor and Districts Historical Society. Based on the article linked below, we suspect this film is of the Wilston State School Fete held on 19th September 1953. The article describes events that closely match some of the events in the film. Here's the link to the Brisbane Telegraph article from 19th September 1953 on Trove:

I am sure it was the opening of the library as it was not usual for all classes to line up near the library. Also at a school fete there would be stalls around the perimeter of the parade ground and on the northern side of what was then 3 block. In the film I c have found myself twice in Mr Mc Nally class of grade 4. Also found my sister Lorraine and my brother Ray was one of the boys swinging the clubs.

Been looking at the timeline of the Library building and it wouldn't have been in the state of construction it was in the film until at least early 1954. Perhaps this film is the 1953 fete and the 1954 library opening joined together as one film.

It appears Wilston State School had their fetes annually around this time period which means this could have been the 1954 fete which would have been around September. The new library was to be opened by Premier Gair not long after the newspaper articles in late August 1954 which would fit the timeline perfectly.

As a proud former pupil of WSS in the 1960s, I am keen to know exactly when the Centenary will be celebrated. Can you advise dates or who to contact to find out?

I attended Prep 1 in 1952, and at age 4 and a half waked about a mile from Langlet (now Cramond) St, across Newmarket Rd to school unaccompanied. No driving kids to school then. A very different age.

Typo - was Langley St. Wo;ston

Typo - was Langley St. Wo;ston

Typo - should be Langley St Wilston

I attended Prep 1 in 1952, and at age 4 and a half waked about a mile from Langley (now Cramond) St, across Newmarket Rd to school unaccompanied. No driving kids to school then. A very different age.

'Proud to say, my father - Reg Venn - was chairman of the P & C when the singing room / library building was built, and I remember talks given here by RSL for ANZAC day. Also the "secret stairs" giving access from upstairs library to back of stage, on western end. Previous library was a small cupboard attached to the stage area, up the stairs from where the school photos used to be taken.

Hi, I have a beautiful old photograph from my Aunty with my Grandma andtwo Great Uncles from the Orchestra taken approx 1926 or if incorrect I would love someone to help me with it.I'd love to visit the school next year during centenary celebrations if possible.

What great memories I joined my 2 brothers and older sister at Wilston in 1950 at the ripe old age of 4 my younger brother and younger sister joined us in later years. I also had 2 nieces & 2 nephews who went there. Miss Mc Donald was my first teacher and Miss Waddley (Donald & Waddle duck) as they were affectionately known. The other prep teacher.My report card says 53 children in my class. The folding door between 2 rooms was opened to accommodate us and the same for Miss Waddley class. The classes became smaller by the time I finished we had 38 kids in class. But three classes of that size. Starting every day on the parade ground where Miss Waddley addressed us and moving up the big school where Mr Jarrett addressedus. Standing at attention while the flag was raised Singing God save the King to Mr Mc Nallys well rehearsed band.We all marched proudly in our school rooms. First thing every day was our tables to this day I still know all my tables without having to think about them. Mr Chapman would half empty the pool on Friday lunch so all the infants swam from 1 pm till 2.30 pm every Friday. A rope was strung across about half way and only those who could swim were allowed on the deep side. The building of the new library, upstairs for reading downstairs for singing lessons and Mr Chapman often showed movies.Of all my great memories of Wilston . September 1952 was the most exciting Betty Shanks had been Murdered on the Corner of Thomas and Carberry Streets the police were there for months or so it seemed they painted footsteps on Thomas st footpath from the terminus to where she was found they dug up the drains ( of course we thought they were digging up bones) every kid in the school spent their little & big lunches watching. No body played the whole time they were there.. I could write a book about my time at Wilston.I have all my old report cards and my slate and slate pencil if you would like to borrow them for your centenary celebrations.

Thank you for those wonderful memories, in particular of the Betty Shanks murder investigation. I started WSS in 1961 and also had Miss Wadley as my teacher. Only 45 in my Grade 1 class though.

my email is p_jray I attended the school from prep to grade 7 from 1944 till I think 1951 have very find memories of my years at school and some of the great teachers. My dad was part of the committee for the swimming pool. If I can contribute in anyway I would love to.

My buddy, Alan Humphreys, who went to school there said,
"what is missing from the school archives is mention of the swimming pool .I swam there in green water ( copper sulphate – no filtration ) and at the age of 14 won the Queensland open swim and record for 100 and 200 meters breast stroke and then to come 4th in the Australian Championships – all because Wilston School had a pool..."