Busselton Oral History Group: Vasse Primary School

In the Vasse and Newtown areas, originally there was Westbrook School on the property which John (Jack) Taylor acquired from his mother Emilie Taylor.

It was built for Thomas Turner then bought by Elijah Dawson who, along with the Bussells and Molloys, were among Busselton's original founders.

In Jack's interview for the Busselton Oral History Group, he recalled that early American whalers' wives were left at the property while the men were out whaling in Geographe Bay.

Some of the Busselton Oral History Group's interviewees remembered walking to Newtown School, the precursor to Vasse Primary School where children went when the school moved from Westbrook.

Doug Feutrill, Jack Taylor's nephew (whose family now own and live at Westbrook), told us more. His and Jack Taylor's interviews are in the Busselton Library. They are also available online.

Margaret Dawson OAM interviewed Doug and asked "After Westbrook house, the school moved to a building down where the Vasse School is today?" Doug replied

"Yes, that is correct. And there is a record somewhere where your Cliffie's [Dawson] grandfather John J[oseph] Dawson, and Thomas Albert Thurkle selected that site in about 1880, and they built a stone building.

"It's behind exactly where the headmaster's house is now. It was built out of limestone; it had a veranda on it (the teacher could sleep in it if they wanted to). That, I believe, was still called the Westbrook School and it was opened about 1885 I think, or 1884.

"In 1980, when we had another back to Newtown reunion, two of the students who could remember that school actually went and showed us where it was on the site, and we tried to measure it all up. The directions are in a document somewhere.

"It got used as a single teacher's quarters until, I think, about 1916 when the first teacher's house was built, and that's been replaced.

"In the 1960s, I think, they knocked the old one down."

Marg then asked: "The school, the other wooden section, when was that built?"

Doug Feutrill replied: "I think it was built about 1894 or '95. My mother went there, and all the family. It was Westbrook school until 1903, and then it became the Newtown school and it operated continuously until about the end of 1932.

"It was closed for a few months and it reopened and the new headmaster was John Osborne in 1933, and it was then renamed the Vasse School in 1938."

This story Trip back in time: Vasse Primary School first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.