Bombay School - Our Best Always - Ake Runga - Years 0 to 8

A School Burns


22nd JULY, 1965. Extract from Franklin Times.

Pukekohe firemen last night waged a desperate, but successful fight to contain a raging fire that at one stage threatened to completely destroy the old Bombay School.

The hour-long drama began when the brigade arrived to find the northern wing—former­ly the old Paparata School—engulfed by flames.

Great tongues of fire were sweeping across the 12 foot gap separating the northern wing from the school-proper.

The fire appeared to be under control, when after seven minutes the tender's first aid tank ran dry. With no water, the tinder dry building again became a raging furnace.

Soon the northern wall of the historic school was a mass of flames. A red glow slowly crept through the ceiling.

At 11.15, brigadesmen managed to couple their hoses to a tank in the school grounds. But, the searing heat forced the firemen back, and the effectiveness of the new supply of water was lost.

Linesmen from the State Hydro sub-station at Bombay watched anxiously as the flames and water jets played around the 110 K.V. transmission line which follows the road adjacent to the school.

After pleading with the 100 or more bystanders to move away from the lines, the lines­men decided to disconnect the power, thereby plunging hundreds of homes in the Papakura­Takanini area into darkness.

At 11.20 the water from the tank in the school grounds was all used. Hoses were quickly run down the road to Mr G. Yandle's house, where a 3000 gallon tank was situated.

In the agonising minutes while the hoses were being connected, the fire began to gain a solid seat in the school. The old northern wing was forgotten, as attention was turned to sav­ing the main building.

Very few of the people present gave the brigade any hope of saving the school. Old tim­ers, with treasured memories of the school, stood around visibly moved as the flames surged along the northern ceiling.

One sobbing young woman was escorted from the scene by friends.

At 1130 water was again available, and firemen moved in on the fiercely burning build‑


Chairs, desks and other equipment had been moved out of the building, and these lay scattered over the grounds.

At 11.45 it became obvious that the brigade were going to save the school. Entry was gained to the ceiling from the interior, and hoses gradually extinguished the mass of flames raging the length of the northern wall.

At midnight firemen began to concentrate on putting out the fire burning in the wreck­age of the old northern wing.

Bombay residents began the task of moving equipment down the road to the hall.

The brigade returned to Pukekohe at 1.30 a.m., after ensuring that the fire was totally ex­tinguished.

A brigade spokesman said surprisingly little damage had been inflicted on the main building.

He estimated that 20 per cent of the ceiling was ruined. The whole of the double-skinned northern wall was beyond repair.

The Paparata School was built in 1883. It was dismantled and removed to Bombay in 1944. The Bombay School was erected in 1881.


APRIL, 1876:

Complaints having been made about the present School Committee, a report from the Inspector and a Memorial from certain ratepayers on behalf of the School Committee was laid before the Board of Education. It was resolved "that, in virtue of the powers vested in the Board by the 19th Section of the Education Act, the School Committee elected for the year 1876, having failed to perform the duties imposed on them by the Act, the Board appoints the following gentlemen to act as Commissioners for the remainder of the year, viz R. Proude, S. H. Stratford, J. Jessup, G. Hawke, W. K. Cornthwaite" The use of the school by the Band of Hope and the Highway Board on certain evenings was authorised.

In July, at the request of the Commissioners, the Education Board authorised tenders to be called for additions to the school. Messrs Buttress and Roke were the successful tenderers for £60.15.0.


On Wednesday, 25th July, 1877, the Bombay School which had recently undergone some improvements, put on a gay appearance, its brand new coat or two of bright paint relieving the dark evergreen with which it was surrounded. It was surmounted by a flag of considerable size and showy colours, the property of the Headmaster, Mr Fredrick Forde, this being the appoint­ed signal that the weather was sufficiently favourable. It was intended that the concert should be a great success and a committee was appointed consisting of Messrs Proude, Forde, Has­zard, Cornthwaite, and W. and J. Sawyer to carry out the arrangements.

Much credit was due to these gentlemen for the manner in which they had fulfilled the duties imposed upon them, with the very substantial result of an evening's unqualified enjoy­ment to something like 200 big and little folk and the addition of £12 to the funds for improve­ments. The programme of the evening's entertainment was an excellent one and carefully car­ried out. It concluded with a laughable farce entitled "The Irish Barber" by Messrs Haszard, W. Sawyer and J. Sawyer.


A public meeting of householders in the Bombay School district was held in the school room on May 3rd, at which Mr R. Proude, Chairman of the School Committee presided. The Chairman explained that the meeting was called to take the opinion of the settlers in regard to enforcing the compulsory attendance clause of the Education Act. The Chairman was asked to read the Act, also a letter from Mr G. White, Snr., on the subject. Discussion followed and it was ascertained that there were 122 children on the roll with an average attendance of 82. It was decided not to enforce the compulsory clause of the Act.

In August, the Board of Education granted £375 for a teacher's dwelling and in Novem­ber of that year, application was made for a new school.


A public meeting was held in the school on Monday evening, January 26th, for the pur­pose of electing a new School Committee. Mr T. Jones, being voted to the chair, called on Mr R. Proude, Chairman of the outgoing Committee, to read the Annual Report. During the last year, they had several times applied for a new school which was very urgently required as at the end of December, there were on the roll 68 boys and 69 girls—the largest attendance 105. A teacher's house was also urgently needed. The teacher ever since he had been in the dis­trict had been living in his own house and had not received one penny in rent.



Balance in Bank in hand 1st Jan‑








uary, 1879           







Capitation allowance   



0        Repairs to school furniture             




Use of school for lectures, con‑
          certs, etc.             





Balance in Bank in hand 31st De- cember          












The following Committee was elected:—W. Evans, W. Sawyer Snr., R. Proude, S. Strat­ford, J. Webster, W. Cuthbert, W. Piggott, and G. Swetman.

Mr Proude then read a letter which the late Committee had received from the Board of Education asking what the district would do towards procuring a site for a new school build­ing. After some very warm discussions on the subject, the following resolution was put to the meeting and carried unanimously "That it is the opinion that, as the district has already present­ed the site upon which the present school stands, and also contributed 1/3rd of all moneys ex­pended in the erection of the present school, they do not consider it is their duty to contribute anything towards either a site or new school, seeing that other places in the surrounding dis­tricts contribute a very insignificant amount compared to the amount spent by the Board. That a copy of this Resolution be forwarded to the Board of Education in answer to their communi­cation, No. 2665-79, by the Chairman of this meeting."


The Education Board authorised the erection of the present school building, the old school building becoming the property of the contractors, Messrs Davis & Swanson, whose tender of £515 was accepted, the highest tender being £562. In 1881, the new school was com­pleted, and opened in Easter week. The contractors disposed of the old school to Mr Forde in payment for excavation work for the school site, valued at £35. A syndicate was formed (35 shares at £1 each), paying Mr Forde, and the old school became the first public hall in Bombay.


In July, 1882, the Committee agitated for a teacher's house. The difficulty was a site. Mr H. Evans, who owned the land on the north side of the house then in use, asked £30 per acre for not less than two acres. Mr Girand, who owned the land on the south side of the Bom­bay Road (where the Recreation Ground now is), asked £50 per acre. Mr Proude was so disgust­ed at the prices asked, that he offered the Board 4 acres at the north-east corner of his farm (now Mr K. Landon's) at £15 per acre. The Education Board accepted the four acres.

Mr Forde, who owned the land from the Great South Road to Barber's Road gave a half acre for a site where the house now stands. When Mr Forde's estate came into the market, the Committee recommended the Education Board to sell the four acres which was purchased from Mr Proude and to purchase a paddock adjoining the school property from the trustees in the estate, which was done, the Board authorising the Committee to call tenders for the four acres. Tenders were called; only two were received, Mr D. MacKenzie £9 per acre and Mr Mc- Nicol £7 per acre. Mr MacKenzie's tender was accepted.

The teacher's house was erected in 1884.


"Fair Play" writes:—"At a meeting of the School Committee held on 26th January, 1885, the Chairman ruled that a man paying for two rooms and paying board, had a vote as a house­holder. The person occupying also had a vote. Can two votes be recorded under the Act. Is a person at the age of 21 and residing in the house, entitled to vote at the School Committee?"

At a meeting of the School Committee on October 12, 1889, all members being present, a circular from the Board of Education was received calling the attention of the Committee to the loss which was occasioned by the irregular attendance of children at school. The Commit­tee decided to post a few copies of the circular in the district, adding a short paragraph to the effect that, if there was not a more regular attendance, the Committee would be compelled to bring the compulsory clause into force. The attendance for the last quarter had been only about 70%.


At the last meeting of the School Committee, it had been decided to hold a concert, if possible towards the end of September, to raise funds to purchase chemical apparatus for the teaching of science and agricultural chemistry.

On October 4th, Mr W. K. Cornthwaite, Chairman of the School Committee, presided at the concert to raise funds for a school chemistry set.

At a meeting of the School Committee in November, Mr S. H. Stratford was elected a member of the Committee in place of Dr Rowley, he having left the district. The Committee had received the chemical apparatus and were then in want of a case or press to keep it in. It was decided to apply to the Board of Education for the cost of a case, as it had taken more than the proceeds of the concert to purchase the chemical apparatus. Messrs Kempthorne, Prosser & Co. had kindly sent sample bottles of their manures, so anyone wishing to give these manures a trial could see them at the school.

A shelter shed was built at the school in August, 1894.

After the ordinary business of the meeting of the School Committee, on February 13th, 1897, voting took place for three members of the Education Board, circular letters from all seven candidates having been read. It was decided to vote for Mr Hobbs, Mr J. R. Reid and Mr Bagnall.

In March, the Committee met to consider the following appointment:—Bombay (assist­ant), Miss K. Keesing, M. Masefield, E. Gregory and C. White. They recommended that Miss K. Keesing be the assistant at Bombay.

In 1899, the school was closed down for four weeks owing to a measles and whooping tough epidemic.

APRI, 1904:

It was reported that the shingles on the school were rotting. The contract for roofing the school with iron was let to Mr Blackwood of Onehunga for £69.

The teacher's house was fenced with timber at the following prices in May, 1913:‑

O.B. Totara, 18/- per 100, Totara posts, 2/6dr. each. The work was eventually complet­ed at a cost of £17.2.7.

1915 the School Roll was 83.

The painting of the house in 1916 cost £54.

1917 the Roll was 109.

In March, 1923, the tennis pavilion was removed from its old position in the school grounds to the Recreation Grounds, with the consent of the Education Board.


A half-holiday was granted the children each day, November 22nd and November 23rd being the occasion of the unveiling of the War Memorial.


The Board's foreman visited the school and recommended the following improvements: That the porch to the southern room be removed and re-erected on the side of the school build­ing and that windows be provided in the wall where the porch is so as to provide better light and ventilation; he also recommended a light partition to sub-divide one of the rooms. These improvements were carried out in April.


The Committee approved the principle of allowing some measure of Bible Reading in schools.


Committee members reported attending a Dental Clinic meeting at Pukekohe. Bombay's share of expenses would be about £12.10.0. The Clinic was established in 1927.


Electricity was supplied to the school house and one light in the school at a cost of £21.5.11.


Sir Charles Kingsford Smith visited the school and planted a tree which unfortunately did not survive.


The Minister of Education authorised a grant for re-modelling and enlarging the school.


The first Calf Club was held at the school.


The Paparata School Building was dismantled and moved to Bombay, where it was re- erected as an extra classroom.


Arrangements were made for stone plaques bearing the names of Servicemen who had given their lives in World War II to be placed by the memorial trees in the school grounds.

Mr Roy Lowrie, 25th 1934.    Sgt. Jim Harris, R.N.Z.A.F., 23rd April, 1942.

Stoker Doug Fletcher, 8th February, 1941.          Pte. Colin Holmes, 20th April, 1943.

Pte. Ted Donovan, 25th May, 1941. L.A.C. Maurice Best, 6th December, 1946.

75th Jubilee

Friday, March 15th, 1946, was a red-letter day at the Bombay School when the Bombay and Paparata Schools held their first re-union since they were opened, Bombay in 1873 and Paparata in 1883. The event also represented the 75th Anniversary of the opening of the first school in Bombay (in St. Peter's in the Forest Anglican Church) under the Auckland Education Board.

As early as 9 a.m., past pupils began to arrive and at 5 p.m., many were still there, the general opinion being that the time was far too short for them to renew old acquaintanceships and exchange their experiences of school days.

By lunch time at 12 noon over 500 were present and talk was buzzing to such an extent that the committee had difficulty in getting the crowd seated in a large marquee where an Auckland catering company served an excellent light luncheon. Immediately after full justice had been done to an appetising repast, the formalities, which were wisely restricted to the minimum, began with a welcome by the Chairman, Mr A. Best, who extended a cordial and warm welcome to the past pupils of both schools. Mr Best paid a well deserved tribute to the ladies of the committee who had done the bulk of the work associated with the organising of the function.

In a brief resume. of the history of education in the district, Mr Best traced the school teaching in the district from the arrival of the ship "Bombay" in 1865, to the present day. Mr Best paid tribute to the late Mr W. K. Cornthwaite, and the late Mr Richard Donovan, for the information they had supplied to make the record complete.

A special welcome was accorded to the ten past pupils who attended the Bombay School at its opening in 1873 and the eleven who attended the Paparata School in 1883.

Mr H. E. Forde, son of the first headmaster at Bombay School, was called on to ring the bell to assemble old pupils for the roll call.

Prior to the reading of the roll, there was an impressive moment when the headmaster, Mr H. B. Abercrombie, called for a moment's silence in memory of those who had answered the last roll call in the past 73 years.

The first names called were Mrs E. Rau (nee Evans) and Mr W. Piggott, of the Bombay School, and Mrs M. Worsley (nee Buttimore) and Mr G. Waugh of the Paparata School, who were the recipients of lovely bouquets and buttonholes respectively, made by Mrs W. J. D. Sharp (nee Cornthwaite), an old scholar of the Bombay School. The presentations were made by the youngest present-day pupils from the two districts.

Mr Abercrombie was assisted in the roll call by the following past teachers: Miss Raines, Miss Keightley, Miss C. Wootten, and Messrs J. Graham, A. M. Laing and F. Bullen.

Responses were made on behalf of past teachers by Mr Graham, a teacher at Bombay in 1886, and on behalf of the past pupils by Mr H. E. Forde (Bombay School) and Mr C. Butti­more (Paparata School).

Apologies for absence were read from the chairman of the Auckland Education Board and the teacher at Paparata in 1883, Mr J. Wilson, and a large number of past pupils.

A display of modern drill was given by the scholars under the direction of Miss Z. Law­rence whose great-grandfather, Mr John Donovan, was a passenger on the ship "Bombay"), after which afternoon tea was served.

The celebrations were continued with a concert at night in the Bombay Hall, the Bom­bay Anniversary Sports and Dance on Saturday and special Church services on Sunday.

For many it was a memorable weekend—they re-lived their school days.


School Roll at 130. Householders met in June to discuss an Intermediate School in Puke­kohe. They objected to losing Standards 5 and 6 as well as a teacher.


Investigations were made for a good water supply for the school and for proposed swim­ming baths. Tank supply during dry summer months was barely sufficient for the school and teacher's residence.

As the Committee were keen to have a learners' swimming pool, a special Committee was set up with the Headmaster, Mr H. B. Abercrombie as Secretary, to go into ways and means of obtaining a good water supply. Being a worthwhile project, as very few of the pupils at Bombay were able to swim, an appeal to the public met with an immediate and good re­sponse. A fund-raising programme of concerts, bazaars, dances and sporting events soon gath­ered in enough to get things started.

A Hamilton firm of well-drillers was engaged and, before long their machinery was cut­ting its way into the Bombay Hill—an unenviable task which occupied many weeks. Through the hardest portion, large quantities of water had to be applied to the drill. This was carted from the big creek near the Paparata Factory, adding a lot to the cost of the job. Working bees were organised and they set about excavating the site for a prefabricated concrete swimming bath 60' x 16'. Tractors, wheelbarrows, picks and shovels, all were kept busy. Eventually a first- class learners' bath was built, the water to be about 2' 9" deep. Concrete path surrounds and dressing sheds were also built. The local men responsible for carrying out the work were de­serving of great credit, for they not only did a grand job but enabled the project to be completed within the margin of funds available.

After drilling to a little over the 300' mark, without getting water, the drillers packed up and went back to Hamilton, leaving everyone guessing and in the dark as to the future of the baths. Eventually after receiving a good progress payment, they returned and produced a good supply of water within a few hours.

The well, the pump and the baths cost something over £1,000.


Two important results of the first year of operation were that the school had an ample supply of fresh cool water for all purposes, and thanks to the enthusiasm of the teachers, Mr H. B. Abercrombie and Mrs J. Thomas, every pupil of the school learnt to swim (even if only to dog paddle).

The Chairman of the School Committee, Mr N. Stuart, and Mr Abercrombie, arranged for an opening carnival when parents and friends were invited. Swimming events and demonstra­tions provided an enjoyable afternoon.

During the afternoon tea break, the Chairman and the Headmaster both thanked all who had given so freely of their time and money in providing such a useful amenity for the work of the school and the enjoyment of the children.


Mr C. J. Whitmore, who had lived in Bombay for many years and had been a keen worker in public and sporting affairs, donated £10 for a drinking fountain to be .erected at the school when a permanent water supply was assured. This has been done and has been a source of great pleasure to the children.


Mr H. B. Abercrombie, Headteacher since 1938, retired from the teaching service and was succeeded by Mr F. Robinson.


Mr N. Stuart retired from office as Chairman of the School Committee after many years of service. He had been Chairman since 1946 after being secretary of the Bombay Com­mittee before that, and of the Paparata School Committee from 1939. He was succeeded by Mr W. Roa.


The new infant block—now rooms one and two—was opened by the Minister of Educa­tion at that time, Mr P. Skoglund, on the 14th November. The school roll was 154.


Mr W. Roa retired as Chairman of the School Committee and was succeeded by Mr C. Roach who is still in office.

The filter plant was installed in the school swimming pool.


The present bell tower was erected to commemorate the school's 90th year. It was un­veiled by the late Mr A. J. Harris.


The 13th April marked the opening of the school library, for which the funds were all raised locally by socials, raffles, etc. The building was also built by volunteer labour which showed how the district felt about this invaluable asset. A book week was held and parents donated a wide variety of books.


35 Paparata Road, Bombay 2675
P 09 236 1012 | F 09 236 0458 | E