A Brief history of the creation of GGHS
On January 1 1957, Mr HFW Stride entered into the logbook the following inscription: “ I assumed duty as Principal. Mr JF Dixon assumed duty as Vice Principal. We received furniture and stock and made the rooms ready for use”. Grosvenor High School opened her doors on 22 January for the first time with a total of 128 boys and 111 girls.
The parents settled on the school colors or royal blue and grey, and opened the school fund. The badge that was used is still used by Grosvenor Boys’ High today. Grosvenor was named after the ship, the Grosvenor, which was originally thought to have sunk off shore. It was later discovered to have sunk off the coast of Port Elizebeth and East London.
On Saturday 8 June 1957, the MEC Mr EC Wilks officially opened the school. The prayer that was used to bless the school was:
“Accept and bless, O Lord, this school, and use it in all things according to Thy Will. May it stand always for what is true, noble, lovely, and of good report! Grant that we and others may so gain from its life, that many may bless Thee for the day when it was founded, and that its work be extended and continued for the generations to come. Amen. “
The original building was designed to be a primary school, but soon changes were made to make it a high school for the growing population of the Bluff. The present “old” and “middle” wings that made up the original school cost $40 000, the sports field $6 000, and the furniture and other equipment another $5 000.
The co-ed school grew under Mr Stride’s leadership. On June 16 1959, there was a very sad entry in the schools’ logbook. “Mr Stride, the headmaster, collapsed and died in the office at about 10:30am.”
1959 saw the building of prefab classrooms to accommodate the growing numbers of learners attending Grosvenor High. These prefab classrooms were where our tennis courts are now. Many of the large trees around the school were also planted.
The second and last Headmaster of Grosvenor High, Mr CFS van Reenen, assumed duty on 4 January 1960. In three years the school had grown from 239 to 489 learners. It was also the year that the new wing and the hall were being considered for addition to the original building. By the end of the 1st term there were 513 learners.
Life went on as the logbook reflected, a fete run by the parents collecting $500 and a boy being suspended for indecency!
In 1961, Mr van Reenen reported that the roll had increased to 648 but with no additional classrooms as requested. His optimistic comment was: ‘ There was no panic, nor were there any casualties”. He recorded his joy later in March that he had just taken occupation of 3 fabricated classrooms!
However, he wrote on 13 February: “I left the school at 2:15pm- sick, in body and mind.” I believe I can relate to that comment!
His comment on 12 April 1961 made me think that things don't change much. It was pouring with rain and 93 pupils were absent as a result. I really felt the frustration of the staff and the strain they must have gone through everyday in May of that year; the teachers were succumbing to what was obviously a bad epidemic of the flu!
1962 dawned and all the teachers reported for duty on 29 January. Mr van Reenen made the following report: “As the new Boys’ High School is not yet ready for occupation, both the Girls’ and Boys’ schools are to be run at this school. Miss A Clarkson, the lady Principal, and her Vice-Principal, Miss Rossouw, reported for duty.” The roll was 455 boys and 303 girls.
Then the day of separation came with Mr van Reenen recording: “I am today moving over to the new Boys’ High School with 25 members of staff and 456 boys. I have handed the Principalship of this school over to Miss A Clarkson.”
Grosvenor Girls’ High was about to be born! It was Friday 16 February 1962. Miss A Clarkson recorded her 1st entry into the logbook of Grosvenor Girls’ High School with this entry:
“ The Lady Principal, Miss A Clarkson and her staff assumed responsibility for this building and Grosvenor Girls’ High School came into being soon after 12 noon today.” The staff of 21 educators and 311 girls became the only Girls’ High School for the next 59 years!
“Following a final assembly addressed by both Principals, the girls followed the normal time table until 9:30. The girls were dismissed early. At 9:45, the staff of the Girls’ School took an early tea and assembled in the Art room for a staff meeting which continued until 12:40. While the meeting was in progress, trucks were loaded with desks from the downstairs rooms and pre-fabs, and the boys took a somewhat vociferous departure.
At 13;00, Class teachers moved into their new classrooms, dye-wanted their cupboards and were free to leave as soon as they had settled.”
Miss Clarkson, together with 10 caretakers and 3 maids washed the walls, rearranged the furniture, emptied drawers and cupboards, dye-anted and generally made comfortable the Principal’s office, the secretary’s office and the entrance foyer. This took the greatest part of the day. That was a Sunday before GGHS started.
It appeared that Miss Clarkson was not impressed with the condition of the building and not before long had the Inspectorate promising to repaint the top floor of the school before the next week.
Miss Clarkson and Mr van Reenen attended the bank together to divide the Grosvenor School fund on a 50:50 basis. The new GGHS Fund account was opened with R 2 395.79.
Miss Clarkson was responsible for adding the Pegasus to our badge and named the Sports Houses after leading lady educationalists who had made an impact on education in KZN. miss Clarkson was also responsible for writing our School prayer which was adapted from Psalm 139.
By 13 April, the girls had moved out of the pre-fabs and into newly painted classrooms. Miss Clarkson commented that at last she has the school looking neat- except for the pre-fabs that are awaiting removal and spoiling the outlook from our eastern windows.
It was only latrin 1964 that GGHS had her own hall. This beautiful hall was described as the biggest and finest at the time. The stage was full size with a separate projection room. It has the best design for perfect acoustics. Our laminated timber arches create graceful air. The hall will host many events in the future. That was also the year that the 1st Matric dance was held in our own hall, complete with electric guitars and drums.
It was only in 1965 that our bell school was donated to us by the Union Castle line. The “Durban Castle” was originally a cruise ship but also played a role as a troop carrier in WWII. The bell bore the bullet marks on her from her experience at war. Unfortunately our beautiful bell was stolen from our school in 2017.
GGHS soon became known for its academic excellence. It was not uncommon for girls to pass their final matric examinations with a 100% pass rate. This trend has been held for the last 59 years and is no mean feat for the girls and teachers over the years.
The school choir was renowned for its very high standard and won many eisteddfods. Many girls excelled at sports and cultural events e.g. debating and essay competitions.
Many fundraising events took place to raise funds for the Tom Powell swimming pool and change rooms. It appears that GGHS has always been fundraising for curtains for the hall or the staff room
The records of the school have shown that although the people change, the same things occur year after year! Girls get themselves into trouble by truanting, fighting and breaking bones. Parents still either co-operate or prove to be the cause of creating monsters by their poor parenting! There have always been great teachers and those that have not always been professional. What does appear to have changed the most is the Department of Education. Their report card does not show a positive picture.
The one thing that has not changed over the past 50 years, is the pride this school has had for its girls. The love, support and sense of family spirit is still strong. This special quality is evident and reflected in the traditions that have developed over the decades: mothers and daughters; Senior citizens Tea Party, the Grade 8 orientation programme and many, many more.
GGHS may have started off as a white only school in 1962 but today she is proudly a Rainbow Nation South African school. She has 8 Core values that have stood the test of time and continue to guide her young ladies to take their rightful place in the country.
As we look back at our former Lady Principals, they have been true role models, leaving behind a strong legacy four our girls. We hope to continue to aim high in our daily work and to never give up, but to remember this school that saw our dawn.
Aurorae Alis Surgo!