Four generations of the Walker family gathered recently at Carroll Public School for the unveiling of a decorative sundial memorial to the family.

Don Walker is the great grandson of the school’s first teacher, Rebecca Lucy Walker and her husband, George Francis Walker, who was the Carroll Postmaster for 43 years.

The sundial represents the passing of time and commemorates the official opening of the public school on January 1, 1869.

The sundial was donated to the school in their memory by Don and his late wife Agnes and their family. Don is the last surviving member of the Walker family who also attended the school as a student.

Don was assisted with the unveiling by his grandson, Angus O’Flynn, while his daughter, Frances O’Flynn, read a family history prepared by Don on the Walker family and their connection to Carroll and the school.

After the unveiling on November 19, the family held a celebration picnic and shared the day with just some of Don and Agnes’ children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the newest being 10-month-old Lily Rizzo.

The family members then made their way to the Carroll Cemetery to see the restoration work on the family graves, also organised by Don Walker.

Historical records gathered for the school’s centenary in 1969, described Rebecca Lucy Walker as “a respectable, middle-aged family woman whose husband George was the local postmaster”.

Mrs Walker had taught previously in Armidale and Tamworth at Church of England Denominational schools before taking up her position as teacher at Carroll’s first school, a little private facility created in 1867 when a dividing wall was knocked down in the Walker’s house to provide a large spacious room for lessons to be held.

A move to have the little school given provisional public school status until the local community could afford to build its own school house began in earnest but gaining provisional status was not without its problems.

By 1869, Mrs Walker had lost patience with the education council and she wrote a letter informing the powers-that-be that she had 30 children under her care and as it was a very poor neighbourhood she was only receiving the small sum of nine shillings and sixpence a week.

Eventually in August 1869, Inspector Jones found time to visit the school which was given provisional status back-dated to January 1, 1869. The first supplies ordered from the council came via steamer to Newcastle, railway to Muswellbrook, express van to Tamworth and Chaffey’s coach to Carroll. Other supplies were carried by Lumley’s Wagon from Tamworth. The first chairman of the school board was Church of England minister Rev Charles Curry.

The people of Carroll kept their promise and very soon Mrs Walker’s Provisional School was transferred to a new building on the government reserve. The school received full public school status on November 14, 1879.

Rebecca Lucy Walker retired from teaching in 1883.

Angus O’Flynn, Don Walker and Fran O’Flynn during the unveiling.

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