Known as Sackville School until 15 December 1911, closed 30 November 1957, reopened 2 December 1963, closed 31 December 1975. Date of Opening: 1/03/1911 Date of Closing: 31/12/1975
George Hastwellâ€™s House and Sackville North Post Office
The house now on the Australiana Pioneer Village site was originally located on the south side of Sackville Ferry Road, immediately south-west of the still extant Sackville North School of Arts, built in 1914. For many years, until his death in 1943, George Hastwell a well-known resident of the area, lived there, certainly in the 1930s and probably much earlier in the century (1). The cottage, is believed by local people to date from the 1890s, a date consistent with its fabric. In the 1930s it was already â€˜old and weather-beatenâ€™ (2).
Hastwell was the contractor who boated children from their homes or across the Hawkesbury River to and from Sackville Reach (later Sackville North) School from 1905 until at least 1914 (3). His handwriting and ability to compose letters show him a well-education man, while his character was vouched for by the Sackville Reach Schoolmaster, Mr Britten, who described him as â€˜a thoroughly reliable and trustworthy personâ€™ (4). Later Hastwell was the non-official postmaster for Sackville North, for an unknown number of years from at latest the 1930s up to his death in 1943 (1).
The post office at Sackville North had been conducted from 1906 until 1914 by the schoolmasterâ€™s wife, Mrs Britten. She initially operated from the school residence, now part of Brewongle Field Studies Centre, but between 1911 and 1914 her husband built a separate galvanised iron post office adjacent to the residence (5). Amy Munro, the wife of the next schoolmaster then became postmistress until her husband did in 1919 (Inspector, 6.6.1919, School Files). At some date after 1919 the small galvanised post office building was moved to behind the cottage on Sackville Ferry Road (2).
Hastwell became postmaster and is likely to have used this iron building initially, but in 1934 a new weatherboard post office room was added to the north-east side of his cottage by other Sackville residents, who had formed a Sackville North Post Office League, with R. T. Madden as secretary. This new post office 2.5 x 3.2 metres (8 by 10 feet), was described in 1955 as â€˜alike to an old shed. It is of wooden structure, and lined with jute bagging .. it is a lock up buildingâ€™ (6). This is the post office run by George Hastwell until 1943 and then by Miss Doris Alcorn, appointed postmistress in July 1943. Miss Alcorn, whose later married name was Mrs Noble, used the weatherboard building for postal business and for the sale of confectionary, tobacco and soft drinks. Later by 1955 she used the cottage as a tearoom (7).
The post office moved from Hastwellâ€™s former premises in 1956 to a new general store built in fibro-cement, also on Sackville Ferry Road, some 1650 metres to the north. The store-keeper cum postmaster was initially Ernest Buttfield from 1956 until 1957 and from 1963 until 1975 Mrs June Bonser ran the store and post office (8).
The Hastwell cottage and its adjoining 1934 weatherboard post office became derelict after 1956 and in 1970 both were moved to the Australian Pioneer Village (7). The post office still contained its pigeon holes and other postal equipment used in the time of George Hastwell and Doris Noble from 1934 to 1956.
(1) J. J. Olsen, Sackville North, Australian Post Office, Historical Office, Public Relations Section, 1974, p. 5; Russell Turnbull 14.6.2002. (2) Russell Turnbull 14.6.2002. (3) Rick Fleming, Sackville North Public School, Sackville North 1992; (4) Britten, 11.7.1905, State Records, New South Wales, School Files, Sackville Reach School, 5/1756OA. (5) Olsen, p. 3-5; Arndell, 16.5.1911 State Records, New South Wales, School Files, Sackville Reach School 5/1756OA; Russell Turnbull 14.6.2002. (6) Olsen, p. 8. (7) June Bonser, 14.6.2002. (8) Bonser, 14.6.2002; Olsen p.10.
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