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New light on an old union

Thursday, 7th March, 2019

Maureen Clark Maureen Clark

By Callum Marshall

An old wooden banner for the Barrier Teacher’s Association, possibly from the 1960s early ‘70s, has shed new and interesting light on the local union.

Found in the loft of the Trades Hall by BTA President Maureen Clark, the banner’s discovery is part of the BTA’s desire to trace the group’s history, with inspiration coming from last year’s Centenary of the NSW Teachers Federation. 

When Mrs Clark found it she said it was the date on it that had surprised her the most.

“It was in quite a mess,” she said. “It was covered in pigeon poo and dust, but the paint and the board weren’t in bad condition considering how long it had been stuck up in the loft, exposed to all sorts of things. 

“One thing in favour of its conservation though was the fact that the loft was fairly dry.

“With another person here at the BIC we carried it down some very steep stairs and I was able to take it home and clean it up a bit. 

“When I did, I saw that it stated that the Barrier Teacher’s Association had begun in 1901.

“We have tried in the past to find some history on the BTA, but that was the first time that we actually knew when it had been established.

“After that I became very interested in this.”

Mrs Clark said it’s likely the chipboard banner could’ve been used during one of the national teachers’ strikes.

“There is a lot of history attached to the Barrier Teacher’s Association and we wonder what sort of history this banner has seen, whether it was taken on some of the early marches that the teachers had, with the first teacher’s strike in 1968.

“That was state-wide and would’ve been endorsed by Federation Council in Sydney, and Broken Hill teachers would’ve taken part in that.

“The banner’s certainly very heavy and I can’t imagine people making it too far with it. There would have to have been some fairly strong people who were able to carry it on marches.

“Some of the lettering on the board itself has been cut out and painstakingly glued onto the board.

“Someone, or some people, have taken a great deal of trouble to do this. So maybe the handiwork of some infants’ teachers could be seen here.”

The banner has also been of interest to historian Karen Coote who was in Broken Hill recently looking to preserve the Barrier Daily Truth and Trades Hall archives.

“It’s of some historical value and she said that if I had an image of good enough quality, she would take it to the Sydney Trades Hall and they would have some silk banners made in that image,” Mrs Clark said.

“The banner is being kept at the Trades Hall in lieu of any meeting home of the BTA, as well as any flags that may be made from the image of the banner.

“The New South Wales Teacher’s Federation will also have a banner made in that image, and that will be kept there as well.”

If you have any information about the old Barrier Teacher’s Association banner or about the BTA’s history in general, please email the BDT at: editorial@bdtruth.com.au

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