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Bundock, Mr Arthur J

[Extract from the entry on Warham school]

In March 1893, Warham school was classified 'house-to-house' pending approval to operate jointly with Cavan. Inspector Sheehy then visited both localities and filed his report: There would be 14 pupils at Cavan and 16 at Warham. The former had a sawn-slab building in a reasonable state of repair, but at Warroo there was no school building as yet. However a site for Warham school had been selected by the Lands Department, resumed and notified on 31st July: namely Portion 251, Boambolo Parish, near the junction of Boambolo and Wee Jasper roads.

The parents at both localities requested that Arthur Bundock be recalled from Beggan Beggan, to which he'd been temporarily transferred until the Cavan-Warham arrangement was sorted out. A keen cricketer who was well liked at Cavan, Bundock would have been delighted when the Department acceded to this request.

Mrs Brassil's room was crowded with 16 pupils in these early months. Those enrolled were William Coady's children - Myrah 7, Adelaide 6 and Lecia 5 and William Harrigan 8; John Sidebottom's - Sarah 8, Hubert 6 and James 5; Elizabeth Brassil's - ME Brassil, FJ Brassil, TJ Brassil and GM Brassil; John Archer's - Milton 8 and Martha Harrigan 7; George Mitchell's - William 11, Lina 8 and Maggie 6.

A few months later, more space was obtained when the parents moved the school from Mrs Brassil's room to a cottage nearby. Classes continued here from October 1893 to April 1894, in barely adequate premises Inspector Sheehy described as follows: -

The cottage is detached and consists of two rooms with a temporary partition between. Its dimensions are 21 x 11½ x 6 feet. It has three windows, a chimney, a calico ceiling and an earthen floor. The furniture consists of a table 7½ x 3 feet, one form which is a fixture, and a few shelves for books.

Sheehy recommended John Archer be informed that providing the parents 'do the place up generally' and provide additional forms, it would be approved for school purposes; though it might be necessary for them to supplement the teacher's salary. The work duly completed and inspected, classes commenced in the cottage on 25th October 1893.

The first teacher, Arthur Bundock

For six months Arthur Bundock taught in this rustic cottage. He would arrive on horseback, conduct school, reside 3 or 4 nights at Elizabeth Brassil's, then return to Cavan and teach a half-week there. He also formed a romantic attachment with Ethel Archer, elder daughter of John Archer, Warham school's parent representative.

Over the same period, a working team put all their spare time into building a proper school on the government's notified site. Given their limited income they built a solid school; its pise rammed-earth walls providing good insulation in summer, and with a fire going, warm in winter. It had a hardwood floor and round timber rafters and joists. Inspector Sheehy described it to the Department as follows: -

The building, which is on a 4 ac vested site, was erected in 1894 by the residents. Its dimensions are 17 x 14 x 9 feet. The walls are of pise work and are very rough, not being plastered or cemented. The ceiling is of calico and the roof is covered with iron.
There are two out-offices with slab walls and bark roofs.

There was a severe drought while the school was being built, and when their crops failed, the parents informed the Department that having been reduced 'to almost a state of government assistance', they could not afford the classroom furniture: they were in need, they said, of 4 desks about 7ft long, 4 matching forms, a book press, table and chair. Inspector Sheehy acceded to their request, recommending that the furniture be forwarded free of cost to Yass railway station. In June 1894 the new schoolroom was inspected and approved for use.

Shortly before the school opened, Arthur Bundock and Ethel Archer were married at Warroo (Arthur, 30 and Ethel, 21). However, when their child was born in December that year, there was some gossip about Alice's pre-marriage pregnancy. Just two weeks after the birth, a Warroo resident named Thomas Howall wrote directly to the Department's under secretary requesting that Arthur Bundock be moved to some distant school for the moral good of the community. The letter read as follows: -

'I send you the undermentioned facts which speak for themselves to show you the sort of teacher we have to teach his pupils the principles of morality. Married at Warroo 24th June 1894, Arthur Bundock to Atty Archer. Birth at Royal Hotel Yass 13th Dec'r 94, Mrs Bundock of a son not six months.
In sending this I do not wish him any harm but as ther (sic) are a deal of talk about it, I think it would be wise to remove him to some place whare (sic) the facts are not knowing as I think the School will not be supported now – perhaps I ought to have sent this to the district Inspector but I think he must know and I thought it best to send it to you.'

Required to inquire about the matter, Inspector Sheehy began by asking Bundock (not mentioning the letter) who the man was and whether he had pupils at either school. When Bundock replied that Howall was a Waroo farmer whose children had been privately taught, Sheehy recommended that the matter be dealt with as follows: -

'Mr Howell has no children attending Cavan and Warham H to H school. His children have always been taught privately. It would appear therefore, that his motive for suggesting the removal of the Teacher is not solicitude for the welfare of the school. I have received no complaint about Mr Bundock from any other resident. The question of removing him should, I think, be deferred till after the next inspection of his school. I recommend that Mr Howall be informed accordingly.' (Memo, 4 Feb. 1895, 'Cavan School', 5/15343.1, NSW Archives)

Although the under secretary concurred, the Minister for Public Instruction thought otherwise: Bundock was summarily removed to Chain of Ponds public school (near Gunning) on 28th February 1895. Both at Cavan and the many other schools he later served at, Arthur Bundock was a popular, well-respected teacher. A skilled sportsman himself, he enthusiastically encouraged all sports wherever he taught. In 1913 he contracted hydatids when he was 48. He had successful surgery for it, but died not long after the operation from a weak heart.


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