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Victor Drury - Schools and Defence

The old Normal School and Girl’s School were at the corner of Edward and Adelaide Streets, and when I went there in 1875, Mr. Randall was head teacher. He died the following year, and was succeeded by Mr. J. S. Kerr, who was there for many years. Mr. M. Sinan was second master, and on the staff were Andrew Kennedy, Alfred Norris, William Gripp, Frank Watts, and Stan Hockings. The Girls and Infants’ Schools were presided over by Miss Berry and Miss Harveston.

In 1880, I went to the Brisbane Grammar School, situated near the Roma Street railway station. The following year, we moved up to the present school. Mr. R. H. Roe, M.A., was headmaster, and the staff consisted of Messrs. William Crompton, R. Roger, O. O’Brien, J. Hermann Schmidt, D. P. Cleary, and Thomas McLeod; George Rylatt was janitor.

He had formerly been messenger at the Bank of Australasia. It is ad to think of the many old boys who attained such high positions in the State and who have nearly all passed away.

In the 1880s, combined sports were held between the three Grammar Schools, Brisbane, Ipswich, and Toowoomba, and each school in turn held the sports in their respective towns. He had great fun at these sports and competition was keen. The Brisbane Grammar School rowing club used the shed of the Brisbane Rowing Club on the South Brisbane side of the river.

The old Brisbane Grammar School was afterwards used by the railway Commission, but has since been demolished – another of the many old and historical landmarks, gone but not forgotten.

Where Anzac Place now is was the Artillery and Engineer’s drill shed and parade ground. In 1883, I joined the old No. 1 Volunteer Battery under the command of Major E. H. Webb. Messrs. Houghton and F. S. Hely were the lieutenants and the sergeant-major was the late J. F. Hinton, afterwards adjutant, and for many years superintendent of the Brisbane Fire Brigade. Sergeant Harold Hockings was my sergeant.

In 1884, the annual encampment was held at Westbrook Station, Darling Downs, and a wet camp it was. We had great difficulty getting the guns from the Westbrook railway station to the camp. Our horses were obtained from the carters and furniture vans in Brisbane.

I shall never forget the march from the camp to Toowoomba on the Easter Monday. When the Defence Act of 1884 came into force, No 1 Battery became the Brisbane Field Battery and No 2 Battery at Ipswich, under Major Scholes, was called the Moreton Field Battery.

When we were schoolboys, several of us possessed up to date goats and carts. Messrs. Brown and Foster, ironmongers of Queen Street, imported several light four wheel goat carts and we had rather good turnouts.

We had a dry spell on at the time and the professor, who was in Brisbane exhibiting “Pepper’s Ghost,” in a hall in Mr. Morwitch’s Building, where Tattersalls Club now is, announced that he could produce rain by means of a huge kite, rockets, and the firing of cannon.

He had small cannons procured from Newstead House, if my memory serves me rightly, mounted in the centre of the course, and also stands from which the rockets were fired. It was an awful fiasco as there was no wind to fly the kite and few clouds to pierce. He must have got his idea from the Swiss, who break up clouds by firing rockets and cannon.