Pack up your pencils and head back to school in Saddleworth

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Ivan Milde,82, attended Saddleworth School from 1942 to 1949. Picture: Tait Schmaal.

Constructed in 1870, Saddleworth School is a step back in time, and not only because it still retains its original blackboards and class rooms.

Offered to the market for the first time in 149 years, 3 Hill St is one of area’s oldest landmark properties, serving as the town’s only schoolhouse until 1969.

Largely in original condition, the building was used as offices and storage rooms thereafter, but was gifted to the Saddleworth Museum and Historical Society in 2014.

Having fallen into disrepair, the Society is now selling the former schoolhouse.

The property will be auctioned on Saturday, September 14 at 11am, through the Professionals Clare.

Former teacher and historian David Gibbs said the property was never intended to fall into private hands.

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Ivan Milde, 82, with Saddleworth historian David Gibbs. Picture: Tait Schmaal.

Saddleworth residents sitting on the old lunch bench. Picture: Tait Schmaal.

“When the council gifted the school to the society, we grabbed it with strong enthusiasm as our main brief is to preserve as much as we can of our local heritage,” he said.

“For some reason or another, the main one being financial, we couldn’t afford to maintain and develop the property, so the decision was made to take it to auction.

“It is unfortunate that historic groups like us struggle to preserve these type of buildings, largely because the government doesn’t do much in terms of providing grants.

“That’s why any funds raised through the sale, will go towards preserving local heritage.”

Mr Gibbs said research by the society uncovered that the building was originally opened by a Mrs Siekmann, whose family ran a large store within the town, currently occupied by the museum.

Saddleworth Public School, circa 1908. Source: State Library of South Australia.

The old Saddleworth school. Picture: Tait Schmaal.

While its primary use was that of a school, it is also believed that the building once served as a church.

“According to a local, the smaller of the two classrooms was once, in fact, a primitive church,” Mr Gibbs said.

“There’s some evidence to support that. We’ve found an arched window, which has been bricked up and cemented at the back, behind one of the blackboards.

“The other evidence is the arches on the roof, which was common for churches back then, but not for schools.”

Ivan Milde, who attended school in Saddleworth from 1942 to 1949, said he was sad to see the property sold.

The old Saddleworth school. Picture: Tait Schmaal.

One of the old classrooms. Picture: Tait Schmaal.

“I went there from Grade 1 to Grade 7, and we had 50 to 70 students across both classrooms,” he said.

“It was a good school but the teachers were pretty strict. Back then, we still got hit on the bottom with a cane or across the knuckles with a ruler. But the teachers were otherwise really nice.

“It’s sad to see the building in such disrepair and I really hope no one knocks it down.”

Selling agent Tim Edwards said the property was likely to be converted into accommodation.

“Education was once a key element of this growing town and the school played a significant role in attracting people to this bustling community,” he said.

“Things are a bit quieter now and there is no train, but you are adjacent to the Barrier Highway with access to travellers or an easy, mind clearing drive from the city.

“So we’re in a good condition to sell at auction, with inquiries received from both interstate and locals, looking to convert the property into accommodation or maybe even set it up as a gallery.”

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