Life at Kilbirnie School in the 1900s

This class photograph was taken at Kilbirnie School around 1900.

Boys’ clothes

The boys wore a blouse up to their neck with a small collar made of tweed. Some lighter material for the warmer seasons. They had trousers up to their knees. The boys had long socks worn above their knees with long, elastic garters. They were pitch black socks. As the children grew up their clothes changed and they wore knickerbockers that strapped up below their knees. Sometimes they wore suits. The jacket was called a Norfolk jacket. The knickerbockers were worn with fancy top stockings. At all times they wore caps.

Girls’ clothes

The girls wore long frocks and a smock that went down to their ankles. Girls wore boots similar to the boys’ boots. Girls had long hair, sometimes it was plaited and they wore ribbons.

Most common names

From 1885 - 1895, the most common names then for boys were William, Frederick, and George.

From 2005 - 2008, the most common names for the boys were Dylan, Max, and Thomas.

From 1885 - 1895, the most common names for girls were Alice, Mary and Annie.

From 2005 - 2008, the most common names for girls were Ruby, Lucy and Emily.

School subjects

In the 1900's the main subjects were handwriting, arithmetic, reading, spelling and grammar, geography, history and singing.


Children had more time to play. Girls played skipping, hop scotch, ring-a-rosies, oranges and lemons. Boys played rougher games, leap frog, bar- the-door we might call it bullrush, marbles and hoops. They had a girls' playground and a boys' playground to play in.

When children were not at school they had fun at parks. Boys did a lot of climbing. Children played in the streets there were not many cars.


Children playing beside a pram, Basin Reserve, Wellington. Taylor, J N fl 1900s :Photographs of Wellington. Ref: 1/2-104788-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.