Birkenhead Primary came into existence in 1919 as a side school of Northcote School. As Northcote School grew, it became necessary to create a main school in Birkenhead. An additional four rooms were added to create a new main school, the work being finished in 1925. During the depression years, unemployed men were used to level the grounds of the school, using picks and shovels. Some of these men had children or grandchildren at the school so they were quite willing to do the work.
The old dental clinic was added in 1930, after a grant of forty pounds was made and a house to house collection topped it up. A Children’s Fancy Dress Ball was held to pay off the last 30 pounds of the cost. During the second world war, the school’s grounds were used for a three month home guard training area. The swimming pool was approved in 1944, completed in 1946, and opened in 1947.
In the early 70s, an “open plan” building was added to the site. At this time the school’s administration was at the Hammond Place entranceway.
In 1994, immediately after a very successful 75th Jubilee, an arson attack destroyed three rooms and a resource space of the senior block. This happened at the same time as the “Highpoint” shopping centre was being planned. The school took the decision to relocate its administration area back to Mokoia Road, and so the administration area was incorporated into the new classroom block. The Psychology Service building was demolished at this time.
In 1998 an additional block of three classrooms was added – on the bank overlooking the field. A classroom was added to the senior block at the same time. In 2003, the Library was moved into Room 5 – a larger room – which allowed computers and books to be in the one room. With the advent of the new Property Management system introduced by the Ministry at this time, the school was able to take charge of the school's property development. In 2003, the school started to build a new hall. This was a major undertaking, with a total project cost of about $720,000. The hall was officially opened in June 2004. It added a whole new range of possibilities for the school - such as holding school shows on site and also sports activities such as indoor basketball, badminton, gymnastics.
In 2010, the school completed a major building project that included two refurbished classrooms, a larger library, and covered ramps to connect this classroom/library block with the office. Wheelchair access was also created.A number of our current school parents attended the school as children, and they have been able to see the school develop over the past thirty or more years.
During 2014 and 2015, the Ministry started a Building Improvement project as a result of the deterioration of Block 10, the design/build defects of Block 3, and the structural/weathertight risks posed by the hall. Concepts were developed, and mitigation plans drawn up for the hall, but this was all put on hold in mid 2015 due to financial constraints in the Ministry, placing the school again in limbo regarding the improvements which are obviously needed.
In 2015, a new sandpit was built by Logan Smith, the school’s Property Manager, in the space in front of the disused Dental Clinic.
Some other interesting snippets:
The school used to run right down the valley below the Highbury by-pass, but lost land when the by-pass went through. The school also lost land when the Highpoint shopping centre was constructed.
The original concrete foundations of the original building had to be removed when the carpark was remodelled in 1998. This caused a large hole which had to be filled with metal, adding somewhat to the cost of the project.
Room 1 used to sit on the bank where Room 9 now sits.
If you have any historical snippets to add, please email us.