College Through The Decades

DECADES OF COLLEGE

First SAC Building
1856
Foundation

On 15 August 1855, St Andrew’s College was founded by John Armstrong who, two years earlier, had been consecrated first Bishop of Makhanda (Grahamstown) by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

SAC Building and Fields
1877+
A Precarious Adolescence

For much of its early history, St Andrew's College experienced a precarious existence, with the School Roll fluctuating as wildly as the economic and political stability in this frontier region. The School Roll had dropped to just 17 students when Canon Espin arrived as Headmaster in 1882, but would reach a healthy 290 students before he ended his tenure two decades later. By the turn of the new century St Andrew’s was established as one of the premier schools in the colony. In 1874 the Diocesan School for Girls was founded and in 1885 St Andrew’s Preparatory School was established. Meanwhile the College Cadet Corps had been started and Upper Field had been purchased and levelled for cricket.

First College Houses
1896+
First College Houses Development

At the start of Canon Espin’s Headmastership, the building south (downhill) of Upper House was leased, and later bought. The ‘ramshackle barn-like building’ was first called St Andrew’s House, later named Lower.  It was rebuilt in 1912 and was re-named Merriman in 1942, after a benefactor, James Merriman (OA).  Despite a lack of continuity as a House before 1942, traditionally, Merriman has been given the status of College’s second foundation. The third College foundation, Armstrong House, named after the founder, was completed in 1898.

Anglo-Boer War Years
1899+
The Anglo-Boer War Years

During the Anglo-Boer War (1889-1902) College Cadets were called out to stop the advancing commandos of Smuts and Kritzinger. For 10 days they manned trenches near the old golf course. They saw no action, but later voted unanimously to put their pay towards building what is now The Drill Hall. A marble tablet commemorating their actions was unveiled in 1997.

The Rhodes Connection
1902+
The Rhodes Connection

Espin House was completed by 1902, and the next year saw the election of the first St Andrew’s Rhodes Scholar, CJ Gardner – St Andrew's College being one of only four South African schools accorded the right, in terms of Cecil John Rhodes’ will, to select its own Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University each year.

During the early years St Andrew’s was, in fact, serving two quite separate purposes: that of a school, and that of a College which prepared candidates for the B.A. examinations of the University of the Cape of Good Hope and professional Survey Examinations under a great teacher, Arthur Matthews. Members of the ‘College Department’ wore academic dress to class and were often over 20 years old.

Inevitably the time came when the men were separated from the boys: the die was cast in 1904, and Professors Matthews, Cory, Dingemans and Kidd took the College Department from Hillside Cottage, where the Currey Administration Block now stands, across the valley to found what eventually became Rhodes University.

The Chapel & Great War Years
1913+
The Chapel & Great War Years

The foundation stone of the new chapel was laid in 1913, and the beautiful Romanesque building was erected to plans by Sir Herbert Baker, architect of Pretoria’s Union Buildings, an act of faith made and carried through in the face of the gathering and breaking war-clouds. The South African author Marguerite Poland’s novel “Iron Love’ gracefully describes the devastating effect that the Great War had on a whole generation of Andreans.

After The Great War Years
1920+
After The Great War Years

When the war-clouds cleared in 1919, the Rhodes Trustees made College a gift of £10000 in recognition of Old Andrean war services: it led to the erection of the Kettlewell teaching block, named after College’s eighth Headmaster. Canon Kettlewell remains College’s longest serving Headmaster and during his tenure the school grew and developed beyond all recognition. Mullins House was opened in 1921, under Arthur Knowling. In memory of the deceased of the First World War and earlier South African engagements, the Clock Tower was raised as a memorial in the early twenties. Under the coaching of Mr Christian Rheeder (Old Andrean), College produced a string of superb Rugby Teams in the late twenties - with the unbeaten XV of 1926 remaining one of the ‘best ever’ teams.

The Years Before World War II
1930+
The Years Before World War II

A ‘standard school uniform’ was adopted as late as 1940 - a wreath of thistles being added round the St Andrew’s cross in 1946 to distinguish College’s badge from that of St Andrew’s Prep. Meanwhile, under the guidance of the 10th Headmaster, Ronald Currey (Old Andrean), sweeping building decisions were taken in 1941, which led to the demolition of a number of buildings, including the historic second chapel and science laboratory that had grown up behind Upper House. The building of Cornish Hall as a dining facility for Upper and Merriman was completed in 1942.

To The Centenary Year: 1955
1955+
To The Centenary Year: 1955

In 1948 plans were at last passed which led to the providing of dining facilities for Armstrong and Espin Houses - in Jooste Hall. It was fitting that in 1951 the remains of John Armstrong and his infant daughter were transferred from the Old Cemetery to lie at the west end of the Chapel at the heart of the Church school he had founded. The centenary year of 1955 saw, amongst other triumphs, the completion of the Centenary Hall and the laying of the foundation stone of the Currey Block by the Archbishop of Canterbury. When Currey had arrived as Headmaster in 1939 the School Roll stood at 250 pupils and when he retired at the end of the Centenary Year there were over 430 boys in the school – he remains one of the ‘great’ College Headmasters.

The First Long Walk
1962+
The First Long Walk

College’s 11th Headmaster, FR Spencer-Chapman, introduced a whole range of society activities. Having taught at Gordonstoun in Scotland, he placed great emphasis on what would today be termed ‘outward bound’ activities. The annual Long Walk and the multitude of weekend activities are vibrant reminders of Spencer-Chapman’s contribution to the school curriculum. He was commemorated in 1962 with the erection of the Spencer-Chapman Science Block.

The Prosperous Sixties
1963+
The Prosperous Sixties

College’s 11th Headmaster, FR Spencer-Chapman, introduced a whole range of society activities. Having taught at Gordonstoun in Scotland, he placed great emphasis on what would today be termed ‘outward bound’ activities. The annual Long Walk and the multitude of weekend activities are vibrant reminders of Spencer-Chapman’s contribution to the school curriculum. He was commemorated in 1962 with the erection of the Spencer-Chapman Science Block.

Closer Ties with The DSG
1974+
Closer Ties with The DSG

In 1977 the Cawse Library and the Norton Block (with English classrooms and top floor art rooms) were built and named, respectively, after the twelfth and fourteenth Headmasters, JL Cawse (who initiated Graham House) and EB Norton (Old Andrean). The ‘125’ celebrations took place in 1980. It was a period during which College drama flourished under the boisterous direction of Mr John Axe: the annual Arts Week introduced in 1997 was later named in his honour.

Winds of Change
1980+
Winds of Change

With the Headmastership of Arthur Cotton (1981 to 1993), significant change began. Where sport alone, in the past, had made Colours awards, 3 levels of Academic awards were introduced, and the CEMA committee was established to make awards for Cultural and Extra-Mural Achievement. An upsurge of musical activity took place, which resulted in a joint St Andrew’s College / DSG orchestra and several smaller ‘specialist’ musical groups. Almost inevitably, this period saw the building of a joint Music School.

At the same time, I.T. ‘took off’: a sophisticated computer network was set up, with computer centres at the two senior schools. The major project of the era was the erection of the Arthur Cotton Design and Technology Centre, where problem-solving and cross-curricular approaches to learning are enhanced. College pioneered this aspect of education in South Africa.

Into the 21st Century
2001+
Into the 21st Century

Antony Clark (Old Andrean) became College’s 16th Headmaster in 1994. His priorities were to advance notions of democratic leadership, to develop relationships at all levels of the school community, and to advance academic standards to the highest possible level in an era of re-construction and educational uncertainty.

Further moves were made by both Councils and Heads to bring St Andrew's College and DSG closer together. While each retains its autonomy, they work effectively together in the sharing of ideas and resources wherever it is appropriate and serves the interests of each school. In essence, the pupils at both schools enjoy the “best of both worlds.”

Embracing New Frontiers
2005+
Embracing New Frontiers

Mr David Wylde (Old Andrean) took up office as the 17th Headmaster at the beginning of 2003. During 2005 and 2006 he was the President of the International Confederation of Principals, the first African to hold this prestigious post. A new vision was developed, embodied in the strategic statement ‘Embracing New Frontiers’. The Fish River Journey – a 21-day 350km strenuous adventure from the source of the Fish River to its mouth – was undertaken for the first time by the Grade 10s in 2004.

New community and educational partnerships were established with St Matthew’s High School in Keiskammahoek, and with the Good Shepherd School in Makhanda to reignite the school’s long historical links with both institutions.  

In a highly significant move, St Andrew’s Prep – 120 years old in 2005 – merged with College in January 2005, while the Andrean family celebrated a memorable and remarkable Jubilee 150 year in 2005.

The Jubilee Clapham Dining Hall
2009+
The Jubilee Clapham Dining Hall

Mr Paul Edey (Old Andrean) was appointed as the 18th Headmaster in 2009.  During his tenure the school hosted the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh Award (President’s Award) in South Africa at which the Earl and Duchess of Wessex presented the Gold Awards. 

During his time in office, Graham House turned 50, the Pipe Band turned 75, and the Herbert Baker Chapel celebrated its centenary.  Renovations to Graham, Merriman and Mullins Houses were undertaken, and the iconic centralised Jubilee Clapham Dining Hall – a  multipurpose facility with six separate dining halls, state of the art Gymnasium and rowing ergo room – was constructed. 

St Andrew's College experienced unprecedented growth under Mr Edey’s leadership and the enrolment reached the highest it had been for decades.

More Development on Campus
2015+
More Development on Campus

Alan Thompson was committed to ensuring that St Andrew’s College remains at the forefront of world education by collaborating with colleagues internationally through the International Boys Schools Coalition and the G20 schools conference. 

 

Under his leadership (2015 – 2022), the #AcademicExcellence initiative involved the renovation of the Spencer Chapman Science Laboratories, the Cawse Library and the Norton classrooms. He was also instrumental in promoting the renovation and opening of the Thomas Mapikela Debating Chamber and bringing to life the history of the Mullins Institution. Mr Thompson established the Cornish building as a beautiful Visual Arts Centre, and he introduced football as a sport in 2017, a very popular choice amongst the boys.