In 2009 the Blackstone State School was closed under the Queensland Government’s ‘State Schools of Tomorrow’ program. The school was 122 years old and held deep Welsh roots in the small community of Blackstone. As many may already know Blackstone was a predominately Welsh coal mining community with Lewis Thomas being a contributing factor in the discovery of such a rich seam in the area. As a result Blackstone grew rapidly in population and soon the small village had established a church, several bands and choirs as well as sporting ground and a School of Arts centre. The one significant component missing from this list was a school.
In and around the area of Blackstone, at the time, there were only two schools that could be reached by horse or foot – they were Newtown School and Lower Bundanba School. As such the residents thought it necessary for their children to receive an education closer to home. In 1885 a meeting was held with community members and all agreed that the erection of a school was essential. So, a building committee were elected and an area of land was selected on the corner of Mary and William Streets. The building of Blackstone School commenced in 1886 after the Department of Public Instruction approved the land chosen.
On its completion the school was a fine structure made of hardboard weatherboards and a roof of galvanised iron as well as two tanks which were added to supply drinking water to the students. The building itself was built for approximately 100 children with beautiful pine tables crafted by W. B. Jeffcoat & Sons with desks that contained slate holders, neat inkwells and a place for pencils. A blackboard, map stand and pine table were also installed to support the work of the teachers. The headmaster’s residence was also built consisting of four rooms and wide verandas. During its construction one of the first teachers was employed for the school, her name was Ellen Cole and she became the assistant teacher, while Mr W. J. Hall became the Blackstone School’s first headmaster when it finally opened in 1887.
On January 17th 1887 when the school was opened special celebrations were held by the community with the school having 63 students enrolled. According to reports the opening was a large ceremony with an assortment of cakes, pastries, fruits and tea supplied to parents, guests and students. As well as the celebrations held in January there was also a further concert held in March with music and singing, the proceeds of which would go back into the new school. In 1892, after being in operation for a number of years the school had 161 students enrolled and was considered at this time one of the largest schools in the district. However, after the area had been mined for a number of years there was little left to be had jobs wise, therefore many people moved away from the area to find other work. Over the years Blackstone School received very little addition to its classrooms as enrolments dropped, however in 1910 an infants’ room was added and in 1984 a demountable classroom was put on the grounds and the added room was used as a library.
In 2007 the ‘State Schools of Tomorrow’ program was launched with their aim being to evaluate the future of certain schools. Blackstone was one such school and in 2008 it was announced that it would close by the end of 2009. The Save Blackstone School campaign was established by community members however it was to no avail and the school closed its doors to its students in December of 2009. Today, although the school does not exist as an institution, the heritage still remains on the ground and memories still remain of what once was one of the largest schools in the area.