History

A BRIEF HISTORY

Pretoria Boys High School can trace its origins back over more than 110 years. During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), the city of Pretoria was captured in 1900 by British forces under Lord Roberts and the Transvaal became a British colony. One of the responsibilities of the colonial administration was to re-establish schools as these had all been closed during the hostilities. Although the war continued to be fought by the Boers as a guerrilla conflict, moves were made to start a school in central Pretoria and Charles Hope was brought up from the Eastern Cape to undertake this task. Hope had to establish a school virtually from scratch as he tried to source everything from desks to teachers.

VIRTUAL TOUR

BOOK A TOUR

Explore the history of Pretoria Boys High School and take a tour of our school museum. The museum can be visited during school term between 09:00 and 12:00, Monday to Friday.

To arrange a tour please complete and submit the form below.





BOYS HIGH SPORT THROUGH THE AGES

Early sporting activities at the school included cricket, rugby and athletics, with the English public school tradition showing in pursuits such as paper chases, a form of cross-country racing. Athletics meetings included quaint events such as “throwing the cricket ball” and egg-and-spoon races!

HOUSE BADGE HERALDY

Named after Mr Desmond Abernethy, Headmaster of PBHS 1956-1973. This design is taken from Abernethy family crests. The lion symbolises strength and independence. The shepherd’s crook held by the lion refers to the biblical passage of the sheep lying down at peace with the lion.

House colour = Grey

Named after the suburb of Pretoria. One of the original dayboy houses. This features the head of Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and learning (also of war, hence the helmet), which was part of the original crest of the Transvaal University College (later Pretoria University), both institutions with which Boys High has had strong connections. Also, Arcadia is an area that borders on Tukkies.

House colour = Light Blue

Named after Mr Malcolm Armstrong, Headmaster of PBHS 1974-1989. Almost all crests in this family are a pun (play on words) on the surname. Punning is very much part of heraldry. This crest is an adaptation of the “strong arm” and includes symbolism associated with learning and education. There is also the symbolism associated with the expression “the pen is mightier than the sword”.

House colour = Turquoise

Named after Mr William Hofmeyr, Headmaster of PBHS 1910-1934. This design is a variation of the family crest of one of the Hofmeyr families in the early Cape. It features elements of the original family crest, the helmet, winged plume and horseshoe (the latter a traditional symbol of good fortune).

House colour = Dark Blue

2a

Named after Mr Daniel Matheson, Headmaster of PBHS 1935-1949. The thistle symbolises Matheson’s Scottish roots. Other symbolic significance: role of (other) families with Scottish origins in the history of Boys High and the Boys High Pipe Band. The swords represent the war years (1939-1945) during which Mr Matheson was headmaster. It also acknowledges the role of masters and boys in this conflict.

House colour = Maroon

Named after the Right Honourable Johan Rissik, Minister of Lands in the Government of the Transvaal Colony when the present grounds of Boys High were laid out. Hence the design is based on the idea of growth.
Other symbolic significance:

  • the role of agriculture in South Africa;
  • the fact that many pupils came and some borders still come from farming families;
  • the grounds of the school and the two school farms;
  • the tree symbol features in the school badge.

House colour = Green

2b

One of the traditional names used in many English public schools and older South African boarding schools. This uses an element of the Harrow school crest with which Boys High has certain links. The bound spears also have a symbolic connection to the Eendracht lion: many of the original pupils in this house came from the Eendracht School. The bound spears have a strong link to the original SA motto (Ex Unite Vires – “Unity is Strength”). The spears also symbolise the First World War – this house was completed in the year the war started and a number of masters and old boys of Boys High served in that conflict.

House colour = Purple

Named after Sir Edward Solomon, Minister of Public Works in the Government of the Transvaal Colony when the present Boys High buildings were built. The castle is a traditional symbol of building and an obvious symbol of steadfastness and strength. This is also the crest of one of the English Schroder families and one branch of the Pollocks so two Boys High headmasters are also represented by this banner.

House colour = Gold

Named after the suburb of Pretoria from which some of the original dayboys were drawn. This design uses the rather obvious sun symbol, which has a long heraldic tradition and features in a number of African flags. Virtuous notions associated with this symbol include purity, prosperity and endurance.

House colour = Black

Named after the areas of Pretoria (other than Sunnyside and Arcadia) from which the original dayboys were drawn. Three heraldic elements are combined:

  • the bee is taken from the original coat of arms of Pretoria and is a symbol of industry;
  • the castellated coronet is a traditional symbol of towns and cities;
  • the Rose of England symbolises the role played by Britain in setting up the Pretoria College (forerunner of PBHS) and the original teachers and headmasters who came here from England.

House colour = Red

2c

VISITORS OF NOTE

1909 Mr JE Adamson Director of Education(Inspected work of many classes)
1910 Robert Falcon Scott Antarctic Explorer(Lecture tour)
1929 Earl of Athlone Governor-General(Unveiling War Memorial Service)
1936 Earl of Claredon Governor-General.(Prize Giving)
1952 Eugene Marais Old boy. Writer(Valediction)
1959 His Excellency Sir John Maude GCR, CBF. High Commissioner for the United Kingdom in South Africa (Valediction)
1966 Lieutenant General CA Fraser S.M. Chief of the Army(Remembrance Day)
1968 Professor C Barnard Pioneer heart surgeon (Valediction)
1975 Professor GR Bozzoli Old boy. Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Wits University (Valediction)
1978 Dr PGJ Koornhof Minister of Education (School buildings declared National Monument)
1979 Spike Milligan Comedian and writer (Visit)
Geoffrey Jenkins Author (Visit)
Alan Paton SA Author(Visit)
Minister “Pik” Botha Minister of Foreign Affairs(Visit)
1980 Murray Hofmeyr Anglo-American Corporation (Valediction)
1988 Mr Mervyn King Prominent Businessman (Valediction)
1990 Mr Richard Steyn Editor-in-Chief, The Star (Valediction)
1993 The Honourable Mr Justice Brian Southwood High Court Judge (Valediction)
1994 Mr Tokyo Sexwale Premier of Gauteng (Valediction)
Judge Johann Kriegler Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (SNIA)
1997 Archbishop Desmond Tutu Head of Anglican Church of SA (Valediction)
1998 Mr Justice Edmund Cameron High Court of South Africa Valediction.
1999 Dr Mamphele Ramphele Vice-Chancellor of UCT. (Valediction)
2000 President Thabo Mbeki President of SA (Officially launched the centenary year)
2001 His Grace Archbishop George Daniel Catholic Archbishop of Pretoria (Thanksgiving Service)
2002 Morné du Plessis Rugby Springbok (Valediction)
Mark Shuttleworth SA Businessman and Astronaut (Visit promoting Physical Sciences and Mathematics)
2003 Eduardo Villa Sculptor (Sculpture piece donation)
2009 Professor Tim Noakes Authority on sports medicine University of Cape Town. (Valediction)

THE BOYS HIGH MUSEUM

The school’s museum is housed in the east wing of the main buildings. It was expanded and completely refurbished in time for the centenary of the original buildings in 2009.

The first room of the museum covers the origins of the school in the Staats Model School which evolved into the Pretoria College, a school that relocated to the present grounds in 1909 and amalgamated with the Eendracht School to form PBHS. Artefacts, flags, photographs and models are all used to tell the story from the time of the Anglo-Boer War (including the use of the present grounds as a British field hospital) up to the 1950s. A comprehensive collection of school uniforms is displayed together with full size reconstructions of sections of a typical early classroom, science laboratory and woodwork room. The original Danny Swart statue, carved from wood, forms the centrepiece of this room.

The second room of the museum is based on themes and includes displays on World War One; the inter-war years; World War Two; the school badge; Walter Battiss; schoolboy pranks (and punishments); the Cadet detachment; the Pipe Band; Music and Musicals; the evolution of a multi-cultural school; aspects of the “koppie”; changing technology; depictions of the school in art; life in boarding houses and sport in the school.

The museum facility includes an archive room in which is catalogued and stored a large collection of photographs, documents, programmes and school magazines.

The museum can be visited during school term between 09:00 and 12:00 daily, Monday to Friday. The curator is Mr Keith Gibbs.

Donations of any items relating to the history of the school, particularly the earlier decades, are welcomed.