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1881-1920 Samuel Lilley and
the Mulwee School at Swan Bay


The first request for a school at Swan Bay was made in February 1881. Samuel Hobarts wrote to the government on behalf of Swan Bay residents requesting the provision of a school at Swan Bay. A formal application was made in September 1888, with a list of 13 children that would attend the school listed. Among these children were Sarah Lilley (aged 12) and four of James Blanch's children.

A half-time school, where the teacher was to be shared with the Aliceton Public School (6 miles away at Karuah), was then established. The first teacher was the 21 year old Jane Hackett.

On Monday May 6, 1889, the school at Swan Bay began holding classes. However, the school was short-lived, being disbanded in June 1890.

Another application for a school was made in November 1895, another in April 1896 and yet another in November 1898. This latest application was being backed by Samuel Lilley among others. Samuel, who wrote the letter, was determined that his children would not become 'dunces' for the want of a school.

In March 1899, tenders were called for the construction of a provisional school, an advertisement having been placed in the Gloucester Examiner. Because a school was already named 'Swan Bay,' another name for the school was required. The name 'Mullwee' was chosen (changed to 'Mulwee' later on), being the Aboriginal name for Swan Bay. The name means Black Swan or the place of the Black Swan.

The building for the school was completed in September 1899. Frederick Spinney (aged 18) was appointed as the teacher of Mullwee on October 25, 1899. Spinney didn't last long at the post however, being branded as 'lazy' by the school inspectors. He was soon moved on to another school.

Samuel Lilley had been quick to bring the failures of Spinney to the government's attention. It would appear that he had good reason to do so. Spinney was clearly too immature for his teaching role at Swan Bay.

Samuel Lilley quickly withdrew his children from the school (Frederick Lilley, Herbert Lilley or Knight and Sidney Lilley or Knight). He cited the 'brutality' of Spinney as the reason for doing so. There was an attempt to bring charges against Samuel for doing so, but these were withdrawn.

In July 1901, Spinney was replaced by William Foster. Foster quickly met the inspector's approval.

In April 1905, Mulwee was recognized as a public school, having been of a provisional status.

In 1906, Samuel Lilley backed the then teacher, William Foster, in an official investigation regarding the discipline of a child.

The Mulwee School closed in 1920. However, another application was made for a provisional school for the children of Swan Bay in January 1926, by the residents of Swan Bay. Among these children were Ivy Lilley's (Perce Lilley, Violet Lilley and Leslie Lilley) and May Lilley's (Arthur Lilley) children.

The Flagpole and Union Jack flag that had been used at the Mulwee School was donated by Samuel Lilley.


ABOVE: The Mulwee School at Swan Bay


UPDATED: 25 December 2013 2013