History of Royal College in 1932 is ‘born again’

Yomal Senerath-Yapa, in Sunday Times, 11 August 2019

A reprint of “The History of Royal College”, a 1932 biography of the school authored by students, was launched at the BMICH yesterday in an event organised by the Royal College 1960 Group, in association with the Royal College Union.

Head of the Project Team Senaka Weeraratna hands over a copy of the second edition of the 1932 publication to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Royal College Principal B.A. Abeyratna stands by. Former Royal rugby football captain and coach U.L. Kaluarachchi made the keynote address at yesterday’s launch. Dr. Ajit Wijesundera and Mr. Vajira Gunawardene were the other members of the Project Team.

The chief guest was Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a member of the 1960 intake of Royal College. The book is recorded to be the second history of a school written by its students, the first being the biography by students of the Merchant Taylors’ school in Northwood, Hertfordshire- which served as a model for the Royal students.

Twenty boys, aged 15 to 19, compiled the book under the guidance of four masters and the then Principal H. L. Reed. It was launched by the old boys on the eve of Mr. Reed’s departure as Principal, at the Galle Face Hotel on March 12, 1932. The book later became a rare collector’s item.

A search for the book began in recent years following a reference in S.S. Perera’s ‘History of Royal College’ published in 1985 in connection with the 150th year of the school. A digital copy was consequently discovered by a member of the 1960 Group- an online version of a volume preserved at the Library of the University of Michigan, USA.

Originally published by H. W. Cave and Company, the second edition has been published by Vijitha Yapa Publications. Reproduced as a facsimile of the original, the history begins with an appraisal of “Education in Ceylon before the time of Royal College”. The first chapter is devoted to the prototype called the “Hill Street Academy”, run in the back veranda of a Pettah church for twenty boys. It is a record of the school’s progress from being the “Colombo Academy” to Royal College and ends with the role the school played in ‘the Great War’ (the first world war).

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ALSO SEE

Eardley Lieversz: “When Royal ended an 18-Year Drought” in https://cricketique.wordpress.com/2019/06/06/1969-royal-thomian-when-royal-ended-an-18-year-drought/

 

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