History of the College

1904-1954

 


>In the year 1906, Fr. Craner was made to relinquish the post of Principal, which he did with a deep sense of sadness, but with a feeling of discipline and obedience, as his services were needed elsewhere. He had already groomed his successor, Fr. D. Philip Caspersz OSB who was already a member of the teaching staff. After Fr. Caspersz assumed duties as Principal, his brother, Fr. James came in as Boarding Prefect. These two brothers, in a comparatively short time changed the status of the school, making it a College. On 20th of December 1907, the Annual Distribution of Prizes was held for the first time on a grand scale. The Rt. Revd. Dr. C. Pagnani OSB - Bishop of Kandy was the Chief Guest, and along with Fr. D.A. Pancrazi OSB, he distributed 100 prizes amongst a total student population of 275. The ceremony was held in what was called the "Big College Hall" measuring 100' x 27'. The programme opened with a rendering of the chorus 'Over the Hill' by the College Choir and ended with chanting of the 'Papal Hymn' and National Anthem. 'Electricity & Magnetism' was introduced as a subject of the 'Cambridge Classes' in this year.

 Along with Fr. Van Langenberg who was prefect of games, Fr. Philip would spend most evenings encouraging and cheering on his students on the playing field at Barrack Square. The 'Cricket, Hockey & Football Club' (CH&FC) was formed to promote sports at College. St. Anthony's became the first College to play Hockey, in the year 1907. 17 matches were played with 10 of them won, 4 lost and 3 drawn. Amongst the opposition teams were the likes of Indian Rajput Regiment, Colombo Municipality and Bloomfield. Two Football matches were played, winning one and drawing one and five Cricket matches were played winning four and drawing one. The first 'Trinity-Antonian' cricket encounter was played in that same year, with the Antonians emerging winners by 14 runs. The irony of it all was that we lost the use of Barrack Square in that year, when debarred by the Military authorities. However, in 1908 the Kandy Municipal Council granted exclusive use of the Reclamation Grounds for College sports.

The roll of students increased to 300 in 1908. Two pupils secured passes in Senior Division and five in Junior Division 'Cambridge' exams. 'Physiology & Hygiene' was introduced as a subject of the 'Cambridge Classes'. Athletics began to feature prominently in the sports arena, with two Antonian students; D. Vincent Silva and P.M. John, securing first places in the highest class of the Flat Race and the High Jump respectively, in the annual 'Empire Day' celebrations held in Kandy on the 2nd of May 1908. The College Sports meet was held on 4th December 1908 with a list of events described as follows ; Flat Races, Putting the Shot, Throwing the Cricket Ball, Kicking the Football, Long Jump, Three-legged Race, High Jump, Hockey Dribbling, Egg & Spoon Race, Hurdle Race, Bun-Eating Competition, Quarter Mile Race, Chattie Race, Obstacle Race, Zoo Race and a Thread & Needle Race for Old Boys.Red Brick

The first ever College publication was released as "St. Anthony's Manual", in 1908, featuring 53 pages of articles and comprehensive reports on all activities of the college. The old red building near the Bishop's Palace was soon replaced by new buildings that came up in quick succession in the area of the coffee store and the old cemetery.

The year 1909, ended in sadness for the whole school and most of Kandy, when College was robbed of one of its most promising pupils; the little 12-year-old Charlie Hamilton, who had represented the College First XI Teams in Cricket, Football and Hockey with some heroic performances in that year, before his untimely death on 5th of November. The newly equipped Physical Laboratory was specially dedicated to the memory of little Charlie Hamilton.

In 1910, Fr. Basil Hyde OSB, an old boy of the college who was a member of the staff, at the request of several old boys summoned a meeting on 26th of December 1910 at the College Hall, where the 'First Annual General Meeting' of 'St. Anthony's Old Boys' Association' was held.Very Rev. Fr. Bede Beeckmeyer was elected the first President of the Association proposed by Fr. Hyde himself. In 1912, when Fr. Beeckmeyer was consecrated 'Bishop', Fr. Basil Hyde succeeded him as President of the O.B.A. A total of 152 members had joined the association in its first two years. The first Branch of the O.B.A. was formed on 24thFebruary 1912 as the 'Uva Branch', with Rev. Fr. D.M.Craner OSB elected as President, at a meeting held at St. Mary's, Badulla.Charlie Hamilton

In 1911, St. Anthony's College played its first inter-collegiate Football match, beating Kingswood College by two goals to nil. Boxing was introduced to St. Anthony's around 1914, at the same time that Royal, Wesley, Trinity and St. Thomas' took to the sport. The first ever Boxing Tournament in the Island was conducted in 1914, for the 'Stubbs Shield', and St. Anthony's was amongst the teams that participated.
Due to ill health, Fr. Philip Caspersz, who had been Principal for nearly a decade, was shifted to hibernate within the monastic walls of reclusion, and a younger man in the person of Fr. Basil Hyde, served as Principal during 1915, until a more permanent appointment was made.
In November 1915, at the close of Fr. Basil Hyde's temporary tenure of office, Fr. James Caspersz OSB, whose association with the college began as Art Master before his ordination in 1906, was appointed Principal. He immediately engaged in the expansion of the College by meeting the long felt need for better and spacious accommodation. In October 1916 a new wing of the College was declared open by Mr. E.B.Denham, Director of Education, thus providing adequate laboratory facilities

Senior Division Boarders-1909 In November 1915, at the close of Fr. Basil Hyde's temporary tenure of office, Fr. James Caspersz OSB, whose association with the college began as Art Master before his ordination in 1906, was appointed Principal. He immediately engaged in the expansion of the College by meeting the long felt need for better and spacious accommodation. In October 1916 a new wing of the College was declared open by Mr. E.B.Denham, Director of Education, thus providing adequate laboratory facilities for Chemistry and Physics. In 1917, the Department of Education officially recognized St. Anthony's College as a 'Fully Organized Secondary School'. An Infants Department for children aged 3-6 years was inaugurated.William gopallawaThe 'Prize Giving Day' was held on 15th December 1917, after a lapse of three years due the 1st world war, with the Honourable Chief Justice Sir Alex Wood Renton, presiding. Mr. William Gopallawa, the last Governor General of Ceylon and first President of Sri Lanka, was among the students who successfully completed the London Matriculation Examination during this year. The first telephone was installed in College during that year.

The highlight of his term of office was the College's performance in the field of sport. Being a stouthearted sportsman himself, he chose to infuse in his lads the truest type of sporting spirit viz; Win or Lose it's how you play the game that matters. Consequently, in Boxing (the straight lefts), Cricket (the record breaking Jack Anderson) and Cadetting (the De Soysa Cup), the College achieved success and recognition.

Jack Anderson However, for all the achievements of this era, the one that has stood the time-of-test is the individual score of 291 runs by the legendary Jack Anderson, in a match against St. Thomas' College Mount Lavinia, played at Colombo in 1918. This remains to date the highest individual score in school cricket. He also scored five centuries in five successive matches and was the first to score a century at what is now the International Cricket Stadium at Asgiriya, besides also being the first to score a century against St. Thomas'. In Boxing, St. Anthony's who were runners-up in the much coveted Stubbs' Shield Competition on two previous occasions, won the trophy for the first time in 1918.Thanks to the likes of Robert Wright, L.V. Jayaweera, N.H. Keerthiratne and the many other Boxers produced during this era, the Antonians remained a formidable force through the 1920's. Though Cadetting had been introduced to St. Anthony's in 1912, it was not until 1916/1917 that our Cadets were able to make an impression at the annual Inter-School Cadet Competitions in Colombo, for the handsome 'De Soysa Cup'.

In May 1921, Fr. D. Lawrence Hyde OSB succeeded Fr. James Caspersz as Principal of St. Anthony's, and his administration reflected the energizing spirit of his strong personality, to open new vistas in the history of the College. By this time the premises next to the Cathedral had been fully developed with the student population topping one thousand. Several representations were made for the transfer of St. Anthony's from the cramped precincts to more spacious grounds, but to no avail. Finally, it was in 1927 that Bishop Bede Beeckmeyer, an old Antonian himself, purchased the old 'Dunuwille Walauwa', the present premises. The site was eminently suitable and the beauty of the surrounding scenery certainly enhanced it. The river, all along one side of the site, views of Hunnasgiriya and Hantane on two sides and wide stretches of smiling open country on all sides.

The plague hit Kandy by the end of 1927 and Fr. Hyde obtained the Bishop's permission to shift at least the junior boarders out of Kandy to Katugastota. The renovating and reconditioning of the new premises thus began in November 1927. A mass of kitchens and stables had to be turned into dormitories, dining halls and common rooms. With drains all around, outer walls had to be bound to the grounds, the inner walls removed and replaced by pillars and the roof supported by trusses - a combined feat of engineering no modern engineer would attempt. Thanks to Bro. Lysons and the lab-boy William, water service was installed and Titus lamps provided the lighting. The classes were housed in a shed made of coconut pillars, mango rafters, corrugated iron roof and wattle-and-daub dwarf wallsBishop Bede

On 16th January 1928, the junior boarders were installed at Katugastota with a solemn planting of trees to commemorate the event. The verandah of the old walauwa served as a chapel. Odds and ends served as an altar until one was made on 29th January and the place was consecrated to the sacred heart of Jesus. Fr. Principal himself occupied a room between the kindergarten and the study hall.
Fr. Lawrence Hyde built a formidable team of pioneers - Mr. P.B.A.Weerakoon, Bro. Columban Macky, Bro. Joseph, Bro. Lysons and Bro. Timothy - to set about his vision of transformation that today seems unbelievable. Fr. D.D. Barsenbach OSB who was appointed Director of Boarders in 1937 complemented this team. Classes were started for the boarders and others who cared to come over.
Two lads came all the way past the Kandy school to be in the temporary classes and to share in the spirit of the new St. Anthony's College, which was rising phoenix-like out of the ashes of the old. During the first few years the school held classes for Kindergarten up to Cambridge Junior, with an approximate staff of around twelve, gradually increasing the range to the London Matriculation and an Inter-Arts form.
In 1929, Fr. Hyde had the first permanent set of open classrooms erected alongside the river, which today houses the primary school. It was here, that in 1934, St. Anthony's obtained the best results in the British Empire with 100% passes in the London Matriculation Examination. Twelve candidates were presented for the Examination and all passed. Healthy rivalry was enjoyed by the Katugastota boys with their counterparts from the Kandy school in the matter of success at the Examinations, and more often than not, the Kandy youngsters had to congratulate the Katugastota lads on their performance.

The Boarding House-1924New Building Complex Rugby Team 1928 Rugby Team 1929

Even in the field of sports, the lads of Katugastota had the better of their counterparts from Kandy in cricket and athletics, first in the under 16 division and later in the 1st Division. From 1936 - 1938, more than half the 1st XI cricket team were from the Katugastota school. The boys from Katugastota belonged in those days to the Maroon House while those at Kandy were in the Light and Dark Blue Houses.
The first playing field at Katugastota was the narrow strip of ground near the entrance on which the present Centenary Hall stands. The old Walauwa too is no more. It lies buried under the earth of the present playground. The land around the old Walauwa was thick with cocoa and coconut trees, where cobras roamed. The boys themselves helped in mopping out operations and the planning and clearing of these areas for vegetable cultivation.
In 1935, Fr. Hyde completed the main building block of the school and its counterpart running parallel to it. They stand tall to this day to his credit. The hostellers, who had by then increased to about 150, had their dormitories upstairs in the main block while the Office; Hall, Library and Chapel were on the ground floor. The smaller section behind which then consisted of a single storey, contained dining rooms and some classrooms. The playing field too was gradually expanded to its present size, thanks to Fr. Van Reyk's share in it. Fr. Robert Perera had the first Pavilion built at this time.

On the 1st of November 1941, the Kandy branch was officially separated from St. Anthony's College, now well established at Katugastota, and a new school under the name of 'St. Sylvester's College' was established with Fr. Robert Perera OSB as the first Principal.
During his record tenure of 23 years (1921 - 1943) as Principal of St. Anthony's, Fr. Lawrence Hyde achieved spectacular triumphs in the academic field as well as in sports. On the eve of his career as Principal, World War II brought a dark period through the military occupation of the College. Throughout it all, Fr. Hyde's spirit animated the skeleton that survived for four years in private houses and cadjan sheds into which she moved through compulsion. The total student population shrank to about 300 of which about 50 were boarders. Of all its Principals of the past, St. Anthony's must be proud of Fr. Lawrence Hyde OSB; not only as it's architect, but also for guiding with a sure hand it's destinies through a period of 23 years of stress, strain and turmoil. His tenure as Principal remains the longest, to date.

Viscount Soulbury  In 1944, Fr. Angelo Rosati became Principal, being nominated by Fr. Hyde to carry on the task he had begun in a manner that would raise the prestige of the College as an educational institution of high standards and also restore the reputation for sports, which had been sidelined for four years during military occupation of the College. When the release of the buildings and the playing field came around 1946, one of the first innovations conceived by Fr. Theophane Wickramaratne, who led the triumphal return of the boys to the premises, was the adoption of a cottage system for hostel accommodation. Fr. Theophane was also either instrumental or involved in the construction of many other College buildings such as "The Rainbow Cottages", The Tuck Shop", " The Chapel", "Mansion"' "Villa", "Infirmary", and "The Refectory". Living in small groups, in separate cottages had not only provided a homely atmosphere but also promoted greater fellowship and understanding. Fr. Rosati immediately reconditioned several military huts into cosy, comfortable living quarters for the boarders and appointed school matrons to be in charge of the physical cleanliness of the boys and the sanitary features of each hostel block. This change had been so effectual in the achievement of greater performance both in work and play and led to a remarkable reduction of illness among the boarders.

During his sojourn on the Continent, England and the USA, Fr. Rosati was able to send sufficient apparatus to equip fully the Physics, Chemistry and Biology laboratories as well as the Geography room, raising the educational standards of the College on par with other leading schools of the Island. The student population grew to a near 1,600 with a teaching staff of 70, during this period. Classes were conducted in English, Sinhala and Tamil mediums for all subjects from Grade 1 to University Entrance.