Cornelius Bryan

From Gawler History
Jump to: navigation, search
Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1923

Date of death 1997

Bryan was an excellent Woodwork teacher in Gawler High School.

Adjacent to the now Immanuel School carpark and close to the Daly Street fence there was a long building running parallel to and about 10 feet from Daly Street. One end of the building was devoted to Cooking classes for High School students and the northern 2/3 was the woodwork area.

Brian Thom still has numerous cupboards and items in his home which Mr Cornelius helped him make.

"I remember being taught woodwork by Bryan there as a Gawler Primary School student in Grade 7 in 1956. [I still use the shamfered edged wooden bread board that he helped me create that year - "waste not, want not"? ].

I can always remember the smell of the fumes from the urn of glue on the side bench; used in the teaching of the use of "mortice and tennon" joints in our creation of cabinet drawers etc.

There were also Adult Education classes some evenings [also run by Bryan Cornelius]. In approximately 1971, Bryan helped me constructed a cabinet of appropriate size soas to slot into the fireplace of my dining room of our 17 Daly Street home which we had bought the year before. [It is still used daily]. My carpentry "skills" meant that I needed much supervision from Bryan. Luckily he had the "Patience of Job" and needed to have his great sense of humour." Brian Thom

Please <click here> to view a photo of Bryan Cornelius.


Bryan was born in Adelaide in December 1923. His father died when he was 2, leaving his mother to provide for him and his 4 year old sister Claire. They had a corner shop in Llandower Avenue, Payneham for some time and then moved to Jamestown, where his mother obtained a position as a house-keeper. The family moved back to Adelaide so Dad could attend Adelaide Boys Technical High, to obtain his secondary education.

He served in the RAAF City of Melbourne squadron as an instrument fitter, including service in Borneo during the 2nd World War. He then undertook a teacher training course, and also worked at Amscol Ice-cream factory to support his growing family.

Bryan moved to Gawler in 1951 when he was appointed as the woodwork teacher at Gawler High.

He and his wife Dawn had three children; Peter, Paula and Petra. Another two girls, Patrice and Deirdre, were born in Gawler. The family lived in teacher housing at Rice Avenue where Bryan built a sleep-out on the back of the house as an extra bedroom. Bryan made most of the furniture for the house.

Involvement in many community groups and activities, including the RSL and the swimming club, was a feature of Bryan’s 46 years in Gawler. He filled a number of leadership and administrative roles in these organisations and was made a life member of the RSL.

Bryan was a talented hockey player. At High School he played for the school team in the morning and then for Forestville Hockey Club in the afternoon. He was chosen for the State hockey team but did not participate, as the family were unable to pay the expenses involved. Bryan resumed playing hockey, but in his forties, after breaking a leg during a match, he gave up the game completely.

He was a devoted family man; presumably having grown up without a father influenced him to be very hands-on. The five children were taken out individually or a couple at a time, on outings which included mushrooming or black-berrying excursions and going to the woodwork room in the Adult Education Centre in the main street (now the history museum). They often ended up at a local hostelry; all the children have memories of the lemonade and raspberry drinks brought to the car.

Sunday picnics or BBQ’s were enjoyable family occasions as well. He was also proud of his children, 14 grandchildren (and 3 great grandchildren at the time of his death).

All the children attended Gawler High school, and a very high standard was expected. The girls were quite relieved that they did not do woodwork but Bryan generally knew exactly what went on in other classes! Evenings were often spent around the kitchen table with children doing homework and Bryan doing his marking.

Bryan worked at a number of jobs to provide for his growing family: the high school and night classes at the Adult Education Centre in Murray Street (later moved to Finnis Street and became TAFE.) He took great pride in extending the High School knowledge of the local boys (and much later, girls) to making their furniture as young marrieds.

He also serviced the machinery at the AEC in return for being able to work on his own projects. He was also expected to contribute to the maintenance of the school grounds. Bryan worked on Saturday mornings at Ames Hardware and can be remembered for his joking and bantering with the staff and customers.

Bryan was transferred from Gawler High to Elizabeth Boys Tech in 1967 for a couple of years, then went full time to what is now TAFE.

Bryan and Dawn separated in 1972 and were subsequently divorced.

Bryan loved the garden and the family always had home grown vegetables and fruit. This continued in retirement after his marriage to Thelma Pratt in 1974 or 1975 and move to Jane Street, Willaston, where there was a large garden. He particularly loved his roses, and the garden at Willaston was his pride and joy.

Bryan died in 1997, aged 73.

Compiled by Deidre, Peter, Paula & Petra.


Brian B. Cornelius
Brian B. Cornelius

Memories of Cornelius Bryan

Do you remember Cornelius Bryan ? Then Join up and add your memory here.