Kingswood College, Kandy: a tribute to alma mater
The 114th anniversary of the founding of Kingswood College, Kandy was
on 4th May. The school was founded by Louis Edmund Blaze on 4th May,
1891. At the time it came into being the school was called the Boy's
High School. The vast strides made by the school from its very small
beginning, during this period of over a century, is something for all
Kingswoodians, past and present, to be proud of.
Blaze, after obtaining his London Matriculation, was recruited as a
teacher in Trinity College, his alma mater. However after teaching for
sometime, he left for Calcutta to do his degree. Thereafter, he obtained
teaching appointments in Calcutta and Lahore, where he saw a great
difference in the normal teacher-student relationship, which was much
more friendly than what he was used to in Ceylon. On his return to
Ceylon in January 1891, after his teaching stint in Calcutta and Lahore,
had dreamed of establishing a school of his own, and different from what
he had been used to as a student and a teacher in Ceylon, and to run it
his own way.
Five months after his return to Ceylon, his desire to start a school
of his own choice was fulfilled when the Boys' High School was
established in a small building in Pavilion Street, Kandy with eleven
pupils on the roll. Blaze wanted his school to be one in which the
friendliest relations would prevail between teachers and pupils. He was
keen on this teacher-student relationship after he had learnt of the
existence of the cordial relationship in the English public schools
which he came to know of during his stay in Lahore. He also wanted the
pupils of the school to be really educated in the right atmosphere and
not to be trained to merely pass examinations.
He encouraged a sense of obligation of duty and loyalty among the
students. A testimony to this loyalty and manliness imbibed into the
pupils by Blaze was the largest number of volunteers for service
overseas during the First World War being the old boys of Kingswood
In July 1894, Blaze handed over the management of the school to the
Methodist Mission. In 1897 the school was registered by the Government
as a Grant in aid school. During this period there had been a rapid
growth of the school and this made it necessary to shift the school to a
larger premises in Brownrigg Street which was done about the end of
1897. It was in 1898 that the Boys' High School took the name of
Blaze had learnt the game and the rules of Rugby football when he was
teaching in India, and it did not take long for him to introduce the
sport to his pupils. In 1893 Kingswood became the first school in Ceylon
to start rugby football, and later Trinity, Royal and other schools
The first rugby match between two schools in Ceylon was between
Kingswood and Trinity, Blaze's alma mater, which was played at the
Bogambara Grounds on 11th August and quite appropriately it ended in a
six all draw. However, Kingswood gave up the game after a few years and
in 1965 rugby was re-introduced to Kingswood. Since 1980, Kingswood has
been doing well in rugby and has won the Tyrell Muttiah Trophy.
It is of great interest that to commemorate the man who introduced
the game to Kingswood the L E Blaze Trophy is awarded to the winners of
the Kingswood-Wesley rugby matches annually. In 2004 Kingswood did
exceptionally well in rugby to go through the season undefeated and
winning all championships available. In 2004, Ranjith Chandrasekera, the
Principal of Kingswood College was elected as the President of the Sri
Lanka Schools Rugby Association.
In the field of sports, Kingswood assisted another school to play the
first soccer match between schools. This was with St. Anthony's College,
Katugastota, which was the first school to introduce soccer to the
schools. In addition, the Kingswood-Dharmarajah big match in cricket is
the oldest big match in Kandy. This year the two schools played the 99th
match in the series and the match ended in a draw. This year, Kingswood
achieved another landmark in cricket when the team came to the finals of
the Lemonade Trophy. But, unfortunately Kingswood lost to Nalanda.
Kingswood College had the distinction of producing the second schoolboy
cricketer of the year in 1958 when Maurice Fernando, the captain of that
year was chosen for this prestigious award.
Last year, a student of Kingswood Ransilu Ranasinghe, brought credit
to his school and country when he won a Gold medal for weight lifting at
the Junior Commonwealth Games held in Australia. This was the first time
that a sportsman from Sri Lanka had won a Gold medal at an international
competition of this nature.
Kingswood College was one of the first schools to start cadetting. As
in the case of rugby, Kingswood gave up cadetting after sometime. A few
years ago cadetting was re-introduced. The school fared very well in
2004 annexing the Herman Loos Trophy.
Kingswood established traditions which none of the other schools in
Sri Lanka had. Blaze established the tradition of reciting a prologue at
the annual prize giving of the school. The prologue was written in verse
describing the events of importance that took place during that year in
the school, the country and the world. Blaze wrote the prologue during
his lifetime, and thereafter it was one of the old boys who did it, but
It is with a sense of pride that all Kingswoodians, both past and
present, would vouch that the prize giving has been held every year
without a break, whereas in some big Colleges it is not so. The then
Governor General, Lord Soulbury graced the occasion as the Chief Guest
at the prize giving in the Diamond Jubilee year of Kingswood in 1951,
which, in fact was the last prize giving that the founder of the school
attended with his daughter.
It was in the year 1925 that Kingswood moved to Randles Hill, the
location which the school presently occupies and which is half way
between Kandy and Peradeniya. Kingswood was able to move into these
premises through a generous donation given to purchase the land and put
up the buildings by Sir John Randles, who was a Member of Parliament and
a distinguished Methodist in England.
With separate buildings for the lower school and the upper school,
two buildings for the hostels right on top of the hill and two
playgrounds in the premises helped the school to develop further and to
accommodate a larger number of students. Students residing in the hostel
benefited a great deal in that they had two study periods every day and
the playgrounds being just below the hostel enticed all hostellers to
participate in sports, so that the larger number of members in all teams
were from the hostel.
Kingswood had the distinction of being the first school to have a
lady teacher on its staff. Blaze appointed the first lady to teach in
Standards one and two at that time. At the beginning, this appointment
of the lady teacher was criticized by those who were averse to change.
But when it proved successful, other boys' schools too followed suit. I
still recollect that we had lady teachers from the Baby class to
Standard Two and they were the persons who really moulded the Gentlemen
The Gentlemen who had been in school during the forties and the
fifties would recollect with gratitude those gracious ladies, Miss Jacob
(Baby class), Miss Kreltshem (Lower Kindergarten), Miss Thorpe (Upper
Kindergarten), Miss Elias (Standard Two), Miss Lekamge (later Mrs.
Samarajiwa) and Miss Abrahams (Standards Three and Four) who did the
teaching as a service rather than a job, with dedication, kindness and
To illustrate the dedication, during the years of the Second World
War, there was a shortage of square ruled exercise books which were
required for Arithmetic, and the teacher in Standard Two used to convert
the single ruled exercise books of the children into square ruled ones.
Every day the student who finished the Arithmetic first with all the
sums correct received a toffee for his successful effort. Their work did
not end in the classroom. Even outside good manners were taught, and
walking on the correct side of the road.
These lessons have stood all of us in good stead in life later on.
Even now when we walk on a road where there is no pavement for
pedestrians those of us who have been taught always walk on the right
side of the road. While doing so we see so many walking on the wrong
side. Not only do some parents walk on the wrong side, sometimes they
have their children on the inner side of the road! This is quite a
contrast to teachers of the present day for some of them, instead of
guiding their pupils they themselves walk on the left side of the road!
In addition to Blaze, Kingswood had been served by some of the finest
educationist, in the land as its Principals who continued the traditions
introduced by Blaze, and some even did more. O.L. Gibbon, M.A. Utting,
P.H. Nonis and Kenneth M de Lanerolle were some of these stalwarts who
contributed immensely to uplift the standards of Kingswood and the
maintenance of its traditions.
Lest I forget, mention should be made of the other teachers who
taught at Kingswood with dedication and helped to mould students into
gentlemen before they ventured out into the world on their own. We will
never get teachers of the calibre of C.H. Lutersz, P. Shockman, B.A.
Thambapillai, C.V. Abeyratne, A.P. Samarajiwa, J.O. Mendis, Sydney
Perera, Anton Blacker, K.O.E. Fernando, Mrs. Arieth Perera, Mrs. Evelyn
Samarajiwa and Misses Muriel Elias, Gertrude Thorpe and Eileen
Kreltszheim to name a few.
The dedication of the teachers during the time we were in school was
such that the teachers who were good in sports coached the school teams,
and this was done free of charge. Whilst we had teachers such as Messrs
B.A. Thambapillai, Winston Hoole, Roy Abeysekera, R.A.V. Dharmasena and
Anton Blacker were in charge of cricket, Messrs Leonidas James and
Sathananthan were in charge of athletics, Mr. James was the hockey
coach. Mr. James was so good in hockey that he captained the Kandy
District team in the first Hockey Nationals to be held in Sri Lanka.
Blaze, with the knowledge of the Public Schools in England he had
gained whilst teaching in Lahore, established the Houses in the school
named after four of the most celebrated Public Schools, namely, Eton,
Harrow, Rugby and Winchester, which are continued to this day. It is a
credit to the school that the conducting of the affairs of the Houses
was left entirely with the captains and vice-captains.
Last year the Kingswood Union (Old Boys' Association) completed a
century after its establishment. To celebrate the occasion, the Union
had given a swimming pool, a basketball court, a library building and a
Language laboratory, all from donations and monies collected in various
ways. It was a fitting tribute to the untiring efforts of the old boys
to give back something to their alma mater that Her Excellency the
President graced the function to declare open these gifts to the school.
The motto of Kingswood College, "Fide et Virtute" and the school song
which starts "Hill throned where nature is gracious and kind" are two
things that no Kingswoodian, past or present, can easily forget! The
boys who pass through the portals of Kingswood College cherish the
memory of the unforgettable time spent in school and the traditions and
discipline inculcated in them during that time. The spirit of Kingswood
is such that all those who have had their education at Kingswood express
their appreciation by the sign "Kingswood for ever".