“The story of the school is old and interwoven in the history of the Free State and the city of Bloemfontein,” the words of St Andrew’s School’s principal, Roland Rudd, ring true as he tells the 160-year story of the historic school.
Saints, as the school is affectionately known, is celebrating their birthday on 16 November, and has big plans for their birthday, which coincides with the 160th birthday of the city’s Anglican Cathedral.
“We will be coming together in the morning for a chapel service for both the senior and junior school,” explained Rudd. “The 160th celebration is a milestone in the history of the school. What makes it more special is that the Anglican Cathedral is also celebrating its 160th birthday,” he included.
St Andrew’s came into being on 16 November 1863 as the Diocesan Grammar School after being founded by Bishop Edward Twells in response to the need for organised schooling for the boys of Bloemfontein. The original school room still stands in St George’s Street and is known as the Old Raadsaal – a national monument.
“Shortly before the outbreak of the AngloBoer war, the school was due to move to a building on the site of the current Oranje Meisieskool,” told Rudd, “the move never took place as the school was closed when the war broke out and the building was requisitioned as a military hospital.”
In 1917, St Andrew’s was moved to its current site in Westdene, which was then on the edge of the city. “The oldest building still in use on the campus appears to be the lower storey of the senior school (Ferrandi) block which was in use in 1919,” explained the headmaster.
“The school has maintained a very close link with the church,” said Rudd, “from the early days, religious instruction made up a prominent part of the school curriculum and that continues to this day, with each day beginning with a short service in the school chapel.” 160 years after the school’s founding, St Andrew’s is looking ahead. “The future of the school looks bright,” said Rudd.
“Our aim is to ensure that we are not the best kept secret in Bloemfontein, St Andrew’s is so much more than a school”. There are several projects on the school’s to-do list, as they keep expanding the campus and facilities.