In the wake of the Depression and the shadow of war it was becoming clear that the northern suburbs of Melbourne needed a new technical school.
Up until then students had to attend Collingwood or Brunswick Technical Schools or other schools further away
Preston Council took the initiative in 1935 and provided land of 6 ½ acres in St Georges Road (then known as Frank Street), valued at £7,000; Northcote City Council also donated money towards the project and the Australian Natives Association donated the flagpole for the school.
The school was located in what was considered to be in a ‘quiet neighbourhood’ but close to public transport with much space to cater for future expansion.
The school was reported in the Preston Leader (February 4th, 1937), as costing £30,000. Interestingly, it was designed by the Chief Government Architect, Mr P.E. Everett, an architect who had formerly been the Principal of the Brunswick and Brighton Technical Schools. Hence this new school’s classrooms, workshops and equipment, were thought to feature the latest ideas in technical education.
The school opened on the 2nd of February, 1937 with an initial enrolment of 385 boys and 21 teachers with 3 clerical staff (female). The average yearly salary was $612.00. Preston Tech featured 1st, 2nd and 3rd Years for the Junior School; evening classes for working youth and adults were available from the 9th of February. The original Preston curriculum included: Art and Applied Art, Commercial Art, Ticket Writing, Craft Work, Drawing, Teacher’s Certificate, English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Instrumental Drawing, Carpentry and Cabinet Making.
Mr J. Aberdeen M.Sc., B. Ed., formerly Head Master of the Bendigo Technical School, was the first Principal. As reported in the Preston Leader (February 4th, 1937), Mr Aberdeen had wide experience in the area of industrial research and had a leading part in the Boys’ Employment Movement of the time. The Boys’ Employment Movement encouraged boys to continue technical education and helped to place them in jobs afterwards. Aberdeen had also been a Lecturer in Psychology and Religious Education, as well as an examiner of applicants for nursing.
The official opening by the Victorian Minister for Education, Dr. J. R. Harris, M.D., MLC, took place on the 21st of April, 1937.
Australian Dictionary of Biography (online database)
NMIT Historical Archive material including Preston College of TAFE reports.
‘Preston Technical School’. Article on the opening of the school in the Preston Leader, February 4, 1937.