Published on: 15 November 2013

The short walk from Christ Church along Victoria Avenue offered Year 7 Humanities students an opportunity to step back in time last week. As part of their Local Area Study, all classes experienced a taste of what life was like in 1862 at the newly refurbished Freshwater Bay Museum.

Head of Humanities David Proudlove said the boys sat bolt upright on their benches in the original Freshwater Bay School building where the lesson included basic Latin and Mathematics using the imperial system. “They hardly dared to breathe while the formidable Mrs Herbert instructed them in the use of a fountain pen and reprimanded any who considered writing with their left hand was acceptable practice,” Mr Proudlove said.

“Even being allowed to enter the school required passing a rigorous inspection of the cleanliness of their fingernails, hair and clothing, followed by a rather muted rendition of the British National Anthem facing a photograph of Queen Victoria.”

The boys then had an opportunity to clean clothes using cold water carried up the hill from the Swan River, rubbing soap and a drop or two of blue dye into tea towels using a washboard and agitator.

This was followed by the favourite experience for most of the boys, baking scones using the same ingredients as the first settlers in this area would have used. The boys ground wheat using a hand grinder, which revealed how much strength was needed to complete even the most rudimentary recipes. “The boys’ enthusiasm for all things gastronomic shone through and 30 minutes later, the wood-burning oven yielded some mouth-watering morsels,” Mr Proudlove said.

“All in all, a fascinating insight into life 150 years ago and, much to everyone’s surprise, while many aspects would have been incredibly challenging, the boys clearly appreciated that there was fun to be had too!”