Flinders Street Primary School

Flinders Street Primary School

This school was the first two-storey public school built in the colony. Designed by architect-in-chief Edward John Woods, it was built for about £7400 by William Dickin and finished in 1878.

The opening ceremony took place in the infants’ schoolroom, which was “tastefully decorated” with flowers. The young children went through a “delightfully pleasant singing and gesticulating exercise” and then all sang the Song of Australia. The Governor Sir William Jervois, the minister of education, the attorney-general, parliamentarians, city councillors, an archdeacon and other city notables attended.

Commenting on what seemed to be too much money spent on one school when there were already others in the city, the Honourable Thomas King (minister of education) remarked that the recently introduced Compulsory Education Act of 1875 had produced a voluntary return to school of 750 of a known 900 children who had not been attending school, which proved the money had been well spent.

The Gothic-derived style of this building with its gabled roof was typical of Woods’ school designs. This one was built of bluestone with brick quoins and dressings. There was much attention to the ventilation system, while the windows were tall, arched and extremely narrow. Some were square headed but none let in much light. Along with most of Woods’ Gothic school windows, they were later modified to allow more light. Only the windows on the north-facing facade are unchanged.

The school had a typical layout for the period. It segragated the sexes, infants and babies by classroom as well as on the playground. The boys’ classrooms were on the first floor and all the others on the ground floor.

The front of the building has had minor alterations. It lost the belltower, and its dressings and quoins were painted. There were extensive alterations in 1924-25 at the rear. In 1988 efforts began to remove paintwork from the brick dressings and quoins.

Like several of the city’s school buildings, the old primary school has housed a variety of educational institutions. It was opened as the City Model School in 1878, and renamed the East Adelaide Model School in the following year and the Flinders Street Public School in 1885. It was a primary school until 1969, when it became the Flinders Street Adult Education Centre. It has remained a tertiary institution, becoming the Adelaide College of Further Education, School of Music, in 1978.


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The building is an aesthetically pleasing example of the development of the public school system in South Australia.

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See also

Images of Flinders Street Primary School

  • Flinders Street Primary School, 2014
Edward Woods
William Dickin
Building materials
Brick, Stone, Bluestone
Architectural styles
3.6 Gothic
1877 - 1878 

Additional Works

Extensive alterations at rear

Construction commenced
Construction completed

Removal of paint from brick dressings and quoins

Construction commenced
Construction completed

Removal of belltower

Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
gabled roof, bell tower
Engineering features
ventilation system
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Education, School, Training
AS2482 classification
14020 - Colleges of Advanced Education
Public Access
Business/trading hours
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 6071/592 D71799 A501
NTSA file exists
"File:" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA registered
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
7.1 Schools
7.1.2 Pre-schools and Kindergartens
7.1.3 Primary and secondary schools
7.2 Technical Training and Further Education
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Smith Survey 1880; Department of Housing and Construction Plan Room, HD 847-
  • 866; MLSA, Bierbaum files, Flinders Street School centenary 1878-1978, SA Department of Further Education, 1978, Historical photographs, (Gall Collection); PRO, (GRG50/1/8) Central Board of Education minutes, 1876, (GRG38/16/1) record book of school buildings; South Australian Register, Supplement, 23 November 1878.

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