The history of the Woodville precinct is as long as it is intriguing.
A strapping teenager with a vision, Aboriginal people living traditional lives, the drowning of a young wife and a society with a most interesting name.
It’s been 200 years since John Tucker, aged 17 years, set up the first farm (Albion Farm) outside the penal colony of Newcastle and now the people of Woodville are ready to celebrate.
“This celebration is about the whole Woodville community and we’ll be mainly concentrating on Albion Farm, Iona Public School and Woodville School of Arts,” Woodville School of Arts publicity officer Bob Beale said.
Tucker arrived in Albion Park in 1812 after visiting the area during a cedar cutting job earlier that year.
“He was doing a special order for Governor Macquarie with a bunch of convicts and they harvested something like 100 red cedar trees,” Mr Beale said.
“Tucker then went on to set up the first farms here and these were really fertile river flats and still are. Also, at that time, there were Aboriginal people living traditional lives here and this was like a big wetland here surrounded by rain forest.”
When it comes to the history of the hall, it’s hard to go past the title of the group who used to meet there.
Named the Woodville Mutual Improvement Society, the group was formed in 1870 in the absence of other public facilities.
“There was nothing around here then. There were no libraries and no public entertainment so basically people used to go to each other’s houses for lectures and talks, it was the only way to meet socially,” Mr Beale said.
In 1876 the Woodville School of Arts was formed and a hall was built. The existing hall was erected in 1923.
The Woodville School of Arts committee will be at the hall on Saturday between 11am to 4pm to collect memorabilia and photos concentrating on the history of the hall, floods, Woodville families and family trees. The bicentenary will be celebrated in October.
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