Where has the time gone?

It’s been a fascinating journey for the history of TAFE NSW Illawarra Nowra since its’ inception in the early 1900s and 75 years later, we’re celebrating!

The idea of TAFE was fostered with the view that young people should place more importance on the practical issues of life.

At this time, a course like Shorthand was considered an absolute necessity for both young men and women in the commercial world.

Dressmaking was also considered a must for every young woman as well as cookery, being the most important in the science of domestic economy.

An article opposing this idea by a disgruntled local community member was published in the Shoalhaven Telegraphic on Wednesday 21 June 1905 suggesting:

“The Nowra School of Arts committee are to be commended for their noble efforts to introduce technical education into the town and district. But methinks their efforts will be largely wasted. The local youth don’t seem to ‘catch on’ to anything that would be for their mental improvement. Anything of an educational character would require an exercise of brain power, and that would hurt the heads of most of the Nowra youths. They prefer to hang around the street corners, smoke cigarettes, and talk sport and slang. Hitherto all attempts to promote the literary welfare of the rising generation who have left school have ended in failure, but if the earnest men who are working so strenuously for the good of their fellows can succeed in their laudable ambition to establish technical classes in Nowra, all honour and credit to them.”

However, the concept took shape with the first TAFE classes held at the Nowra Central School for Automotive, Engineering and Carpentry and Joinery.

In 1946, TAFE moved to a North Street premises, previously used as a drill hall during the war years.

One of the first events to showcase student success was held in 1950 at the School of Arts in Nowra combining the official opening, prize giving, a Mannequin parade by the dressmaking class and supplier, followed by dancing.

The subjects being offered at this time included skills such as Typewriting, Shorthand, Bookkeeping, Commercial Principles, Fitting and Machining, Automotive Mechanics, Motor Maintenance, Farm Mechanics, Electrical Trades, Carpentry and Joinery, Homecraft Woodwork, Dressmaking (including Tailoring, Whitework, Millinery) and Dairy Technology.

In 1948, a fire destroyed the offices and the engineering workshop.

A tender was secured for two new prefabricated buildings in 1954 at a cost of £31,100. These buildings were erected at Morton’s Hill on the Princes Highway, the current location of the TAFE campus.

Meanwhile, classes were temporarily relocated to a premises along Bolong Road, Bomaderry for the princely rent of $2.

Once TAFE was established on the Princes Highway, there were seven full time teachers and seven part-time teachers and TAFE offered 23 subjects including Accountancy, Shorthand and Typing, Homecraft Woodwork and Women’s Handicrafts.

In 1972, Frank Moorhouse was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Sydney Technical College in recognition of his service to Technical Education in New South Wales as Chairman of the Nowra Technical Education District Committee for more than 25 years.

Fast forward to 2017 and Nowra campus is now Rosemary ‘Razz’ Morgan is Campus Manager and the courses delivered are everything from web development and commercial cookery, to events and tourism.

Read about Rosemary Morgan, the current Campus Manager at TAFE NSW Illawarra who started her career as a trainee.