Kempsey West Public School

Creating a child focussed centre of excellence

Telephone02 6562 7044

School History

1848- Locals parents write to the newly established Board of National School Education to start a government school in Kempsey. This board was expected to concentrate on establishing schools in rural districts by order of Governor Fitzroy. The Kempsey National School was the first to join the government education system and opened in NSW on 23 September 1848, with Mr & Mrs Fowler as teachers.

1850-The school closed after squabbles between parents and many locals moved away due to the gold rush.

1859- Twelve years later parents again write to the Board of National School Education to re-establish the school at Kempsey.

1860- On 2nd October the Kempsey National School commenced with 23 boys and 18 girls, Mr Thomas Hird and his wife Elizabeth as teachers, in a room rented behind Mr Hird's general store.

1863- School children occupied the first school house believed to be built in Elbow Street.

1864- Mr Hird left and was replaced by Mr George Simpson. Mr Simpson was disappointed that only 13 students attended in his first week. This was due to a large flood and students could not come by boat across the river to school.

1869- School enrolments had increased to 69 and the school house was becoming overcrowded. Mr Simpson left to take up a position in Walcha and his belongings were transported by empty wool bullock teams returning to Walcha from the port of Port Macquarie.

1870- Mr John Holding was appointed teacher. There were two other schools operating locally- a Church of England denominational school in East Kempsey and a Presbyterian School in Central Kempsey

1877- Due to the increase in numbers of school children to 87, a new brick school building was completed in Elbow Street. Built by G.A. Worboys a local builder

1878- School children occupied the new school building and Mr Henry Day commenced as teacher.

1881- The Presbyterian School in Central Kempsey closed and enrolments increased. (with some children also enrolling in the Church of England Denominational School in East Kempsey). This school was then handed over the Department and was named the East Kempsey Public School.

1882- 237 students were enrolled at a very overcrowded school and the Department sent a large tent to act as a classroom. The tent held 91 students.

1883- Extensions to the building were completed and the tent was returned.

1886- The school was made a Superior Public School due to increase in student numbers. Superior Public Schools consisted of both primary and secondary students

1889- First combined schools sport day was held at the Kempsey Showground. Displays and competitions of maypole, flag drill, club and dumbell swinging were held against other schools in the district.

1902- Extensions to the school building were completed by builder William Hefren with three new rooms.

1905- The school was renamed to become West Kempsey District School

1918- The two storey Infants Building was opened and the first school badge designed for the school hat bands. School was gazetted an Intermediate High School

1934- First electric light installed in the staffroom and first set of Encyclopaedias purchased by P & C.

1952- The new wooden buildings in Marsh Street were opened and students voted on the naming of the school houses Barton, Deakin, Parkes & Wentworth. A separate Girls School was formed

1953- The school was separated: the Girls School occupying the new Marsh street buildings, Infants Department in the two storey building and the Boys School in the old brick building on Elbow Street side.

1955- School phone was connected the number was 3978

1960- The school celebrated its Centenary of 100 years of continuous education with a dinner and a special Button Badge sold as a souvenir. Enrolments dropped due to the opening of South Kempsey Public School.

1962- The school became co-educational once again. Classes of boys and girls were in classrooms in Elbow and Marsh Street. Children enrolled from Burnt Bridge Public school.

1963- Boys from the Kinchela Boys Home commenced at the School.

1965- School enrolments grew again with the closing of Turners Flat, Mungay Creek and the Primary department of the Greenhill Public School. A school song was introduced.

1966- New Kindergarten building opened in Marsh Street and the Infants moved to the Marsh street side of the school with all the primary moving to the Elbow street side.

1984- The new school hall was occupied which housed the new school canteen.

1987- Macleay Valley Special School moved to join the school.

1992- Enrolments dropped with the opening of the Aldavilla Public School.

1993- Mrs Maggie O'Brien appointed the first female Principal of the school.

2010- Kempsey West School celebrated 150 years of continuous Education

The information listed can be used for education purposes and cannot be used for commercial use, unless written permission is given by the author. Taken from the book "Will to Win" by Christine Read, Copyright 2010


1860       Thomas Hird

1864       George Simpson

1870       John Holding

1878       Henry Day

1881       Lachlan McDonald

1891       Frederick Lewis

1910       Benjamin Price

1913       John Hedberg

1914       Thomas Tarrant

1917       Arthur Knight

1923       John Lusby

1927       Cecil Preston

1928       Frederick Teasedale

1930       Frederick Tyler

1935       Henry Tindall

1940       Roy McMullen

1952       John Bofinger

1956       Ernest Firth

1958       Edward Tucker

1961        Arthur Allsop

1970       Colin Badham

1980       John Woodger

1993       Maggie O’Brien

1997       David Willard

2004      Glen Whitton

2006      Lynette Dockrill

2017      David Munday

2021      Todd Potter



(updated 30/3/2021)