The mysterious resurfacing of Tatura Primary School’s old school bell in Gippsland, Victoria, last year has seen the educational antique restored and placed on display in its former home.
The bell was unveiled at a special whole-school assembly on Monday last week, which was attended by former principal Gary Hopcraft and teachers John Gray and Jeff Baker.
Tatura Primary School principal Susanne Gill said she became aware of the bell’s whereabouts when she received an email from a Gippsland-based historical society.
‘‘It came with the story that it was taken by an ex-teacher and his wife who had decided to sell it,’’ Ms Gill said.
‘‘They purchased it thinking it was of some historical significance to them and it turned out to be from Tatura.’’
Ms Gill said the bell returned to its rightful home late last year when the Tatura Men’s Shed went about restoring the huge piece of equipment.
Men’s Shed member Paul Berg said it took members several weeks to complete the process.
‘‘The restoring of the school bell was a combined effort carried out by the Tatura Men’s Shed members,’’ Mr Berg said.
‘‘The bell itself was in an awkward, awful position.’’
Mr Berg said the members worked to grind the bell back as much as they could and removed all the rust, so that the bell could swing on the attached bar after all those years locked into position.
‘‘I got some lovely red gum, which was donated by Alma Moar and made up a design for the frame and took it toMs Gill and they were rapt,’’ he said.
Mr Berg said the timber had historical significance in its own right, having been sourced fromthe Old Railway House in Tatura.
Ms Gill said the bell was on display in the school’s front office and encouraged past students and staff to come and take a look.
The former staff members present at the unveiling provided current students with an insight into what the education system was like decades ago.
‘‘Gary Hopcraft (who gave the formal speech) sang an old school song from when he was here,’’ Ms Gill said.
And former music teacher Jeff Baker said he touched briefly on his time at the school as a struggling young teacher in 1966-69 and when he returned in 1984.
Mr Berg said he enjoyed hearing tales from fellow Men’s Shed mem- bers who used to get in trouble for ringing the bell when they attended the school.
‘‘It was a labour of love; to do something for the Tatura community and bring back the memories of the old school bell,’’ he said.
Supplied by Jeff Baker Restored: Former Tatura Primary School principal (1985-94) and physical education teacher (1963-65) Gary Hopcraft, Tatura Men’s Shed member Paul Berg and Tatura Primary School principal Susanne Gill at the special unveiling of the school’s restored bell.
Blast from the past: Present Tatura Primary School students heard stories of the school during times past.
Meeting place: Students gather at Tatura Primary School in December 1969. Picture: Supplied by Jeff Baker
Unveiling: Gary Hopcraft, Paul Berg and Susanne Gill unveil the bell at a special school assembly last week.