Botany Public School

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Telephone02 9316 8889


A brief history of Botany Public School

Botany Public School has the honour of not only being the first public school in Sydney, but is also the oldest existing public school in New South Wales.

Originally the school was located on the eastern side of Botany Road and was called the Botany Bay School. However it became known as Botany Public School in and around 1862

The original building on the present schoolgrounds was completed in 1869 and is heritage listed.  5 Moreton Bay figs adorn the entrance. They are 140 years old

Botany Public School has the honour of not only being the first public school in Sydney, but is also the oldest existing public school in New South Wales.


The original building, opened in January 1869, with attached teacher's residence at right. The roof still has the original timber shingles and gabled roof vents. Four of these vents can be seen projecting from the side of the roof. The three lancet windows in the building's main facade are typical of Gothic architecture. In the early 1870s 17 Moreton Bay Figs and 11 Norfolk Island Pines were planted in the school grounds. One of each, protected by paling tree guards, is pictured. The school bell is between the two trees.

In 1903 the primary building was completed to house the 545 students enrolled.  There were only ten teachers and only six classrooms.

Many of our local Botany streets such as Swinbourne and Chegwyn Streets were later named after some of the families that attended the school.  Many of our students came from families whose parents were fishermen, tanners, market gardeners and wool scourers as the Botany community was once very different.

The school used to be next to a tannery that once caused a fire that spread into the school on the 18th of October 1926. During this disaster the fire chief lost his life trying to put out the flames. Several buildings were also lost.

Cattle used to wander into the playground.  Much of the playground was useless for playing on because it was very smelly with lots of mosquitoes. 40 men spent six months putting dirt in the grounds to raise the level of the playground over a metre so that it could be used. The weather shed which is now there used to be where our library now stands.

In recent times the school has gone through many further changes including the removal of dangerous 80 year old coral trees, the erection of a new assembly hall and the inclusion of latest technology in class rooms.

Through all these changes, we recognise those students, parents, teachers and community members who have contributed to our school's rich history and our exciting future.


The original three lancet windows have been insensitively removed and replaced with two larger square windows. The adjoining teacher's residence still stands as does the two storey boarding house next to the school (extreme right of picture) The two storey school building at left is now complete. It opened in 1903 with only two classrooms, one on each floor. Additional class and staff rooms, at the rear of the building, opened in 1911. The Moreton Bay Figs appear to have been severely cut back. In the foreground are the Botany Road tramlines.

The Historic Pathway

The Historic Pathway was officially opened in May 2010. Past and present students and families purchased pavers engraved with their names and years of attendance. These pavers border the garden path leading to the infants' classrooms.

A more detailed history of Botany Public School is available for download: History of Botany Public School