Taplan Institute Hall

Taplan Institute Hall

Taplan Institute Hall

I took this photo on the occasion of the Taplan Railway Centenary celebrations in October 2013. I have written extensively about this event in recent posts.

Taplan is a small Murray Mallee farming community south of Loxton in eastern South Australia. In the 1950s and 60s, I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm just over a kilometre from this spot. Taplan Primary School, which I attended for 7 years, is barely a hundred metres up the street from this point.

The Taplan Institute Hall, opened in 1923, is now a private home but in its heyday, along with the local Lutheran Church, was the hub of community activities. The hall was used for many functions, including concerts, weddings, parties, regular dances and the very popular annual Strawberry Fete. Update: a galvanised iron room at the back served as a school from 1917 until the new school opened in 1928 just up the main street.

Taplan Strawberry Fete:

As a child, I always looked forward to this wonderful event, usually held in November of each year if my memory is correct. While the fete was also a dance evening, there were plenty of soft drinks and games for the children,  and lashings of strawberries and ice-cream or strawberries and cream for everyone. It was a gastronomic delight. While strawberry fetes are mostly a thing of a wonderful past there are still a few communities which hold such delightful feasts in rural areas.

School Concerts:

Another annual event held in the Taplan Institute Hall was the end of year School Concert. For many weeks leading up to the end of the school year, we would be taken through our paces, practising songs, plays, recitations and even an occasional dance. Around the walls of the hall we set up trestle tables with examples of our best school work achieved through the year: artworks, writing, maths, handiwork and so on. The boys displayed items made in woodwork and the girls displayed their knitting. Remember – in the 1950s some activities were still very much either boy-centred or girl-centred.

One last thing. During my primary schooling at Taplan, I had the one teacher throughout my 7 years there. During the last few years of my schooling there, his wife attempted to teach me how to play the piano. I was coerced into playing several pieces solo at the end of year concert. I still flinch a little at the embarrassing memory of stopping part way through one piece, but being brave enough to start over and complete the song.

Updated 30th December 2016.

 

 

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