The Glenrowan School
The Glenrowan SchoolContributors
Rural City of Wangaratta
This image shows the section of the Glenrowan School that is still the original building, standing in the old Glenrowen (original spelling) township, and is included in the series of images of the Glenrowan Heritage Siege Precinct due to its connection to Thomas Curnow. The front entrance porch is a more recent addition.
Instruction began in the Glenrowen School building in 1878, under Thomas Curnow. It was moved from the old township to its present site, 1 mile to the east, in 1891.
Without a doubt, Thomas Curnow was the most pivotal figure in the story of what transpired as the Glenrowan Siege. Thomas Curnow had been the schoolteacher at the old township of Glenrowen for the past four years when the siege took place. On Sunday 27th June 1880, at about 11am, he was travelling in a buggy headed to Greta with his family – his wife, sister and son – and his brother-in-law on horseback, when he noticed a crowd near Ann Jones’ Glenrowan Inn. A young man on horseback, who later turns out to be Ned Kelly, approaches and Curnow and his family are taken prisoner and join other hostages in the inn. They become part of the Glenrowan Siege story.
Curnow becomes aware of the Kellys’ plan to derail the Police Special Train, and anxious to intervene, he convinces Ned that he is a sympathiser and to allow him to return his unwell family to their home in the old township. Ned is swayed and permits this. Curnow – leaving his wife and child at home – then takes his sister’s red scarf and a candle to the railway line to flag down the train. He succeeds in getting the pilot engine to halt, thereby foiling the Gang’s plan to wreck the Police Special Train. Instead, the police mount their own assault on Ann Jones’ Inn, which results in the fall of the Kelly Gang.
Curnow’s role in the “Last Stand of the Kelly Gang” made him unpopular in the area, and he left. He taught later in Gippsland (under an assumed name) and Ballarat, where he died in 1922.
(Text adapted from Linton Briggs)