About Trinity College, Kandy

Mar - 11 - 2011

Trinity College Kandy, Sri Lanka was founded in 1872, by the Principal Rev. Richard Collins. Although, it was founded as an Anglican Missionary school based on the traditions of the best of the public schools in England, the missionaries took into its ambit the best of the indigenous culture. Today it is one of the leading schools with a rich heritage. The grand Principal of Trinity College Rev. A.G. Fraser brought the school from a mere provincial school to a national college. In his day (1904-1924), it became a multi facetted educational institution, equal to that of any leading school in the British Commonwealth. In the days of Fraser 17 different nationalities made use of the all round educational Trinity provided.

Although Trinity College was founded in 1872, its antecedents go back to 1817 when the first missionaries from Britain, Mr. and Mrs. Browning entered the hill country, despite the recent anti-British rebellion which had shaken the country. They set up an elementary school of humble proportions, which later grew up to be a large institution. This flourished in its day but was later closed down for unknown reasons. Another attempt was made under a zealous missionary Ireland Jones in 1857. In his day it was popularly known as the Kandy Collegiate School, but again for unknown reasons was closed down in 1863. Hence it was necessary to make another effort in 1872. The early efforts were painstaking but the results have endured for the school has grown and has lasted to this date. Richard Collins (1872-1878) was followed by the illustrious Principals Rev. J.G. Garret, M.A. (Dub) (1878- 1883), Rev. E.N. Hodges (1883-1888), Rev. E.J. Perry (1888-1890), Rev. H.P. Napier-Clavering (1890-1900), Rev. R.M. Ryde (1900-1902) and under their wise stewardship the school grew.

The greatest was to follow them. That was the grand Principal of Trinity about whom reference has already been made. Fraser was an inspiring personality and yet truly self-sacrificing. All his best years were given to Trinity and all his efforts bore fruit. He had the power of persuasion, which he used to inspire brilliant men from Oxford and Cambridge to serve as Anglican missionaries at Trinity College. Walter Senior was one such person who came to serve as Vice Principal under Fraser. He is best known as the Bard of Lanka. Decisions of Mr. Fraser were daring but far sighted. It was he who introduced the mother tongue and broke away from conventional subjects mostly imported from England. He introduced a diversified system of education with a strong bias towards national needs. Agriculture was introduced when it was not the practice in any other local school. The story of Mr. Fraser is voluminous, for he was not merely a Principal but a stalwart among head masters. He had on his staff a brilliant man Gaster, who was responsible for planning the buildings of the time. Two buildings, one know as the “Gaster Block” and the other was The Chapel which continues to be admired today and bears testimony to the wisdom of Fraser and Gaster. The chapel is unique among churches in Sri Lanka. Architecturally one could see the best of Sinhala Architecture, with designs and carvings similar to those one could see in Polonnaruwa, an ancient capital of Sri Lanka. It was the first open chapel in the world, when all the others were of gothic type. During his years as Principal, Mr. Fraser obtained a lease of a land from the Asgiriya Temple and leveled it to create a playing field, which was later to become the Asgiriya International Cricket Stadium. In his time the school games brought much honour and glory to the school from the innumerable victories in Cricket and Rugby. Rev. Fraser left in 1924 to head a school in Ghana, namely Achimotta the great college of that country.

Before Rev. Fraser left, he found his ideal successor Cannon McLeod Campbell (1925-1935) who not only carried on the work of Mr. Fraser to its fulfillment but, brought about a very healthy atmosphere in the school. If Mr. Fraser was an uncompromising disciplinarian, so was Cannon Campbell. The decade he headed was perhaps a period of pristine glory. Cannon Campbell retired to England and later held responsible positions in the Church of England, particularly as Chaplain to the Royal Family. His successor, Rev Robert Stopford (1935-1940) had a short period, among other reasons the Second World War intervened and all that could have been accomplished during this period could not be realized. Introduction of Kandyan dancing into the school curriculum, and the introduction of the mother tongues as media of instruction, will always bear testimony to Rev. Stopford’s wisdom. The hall was a gift of our greatest benefactor Mr. A.H.T. De Soysa during the time of Principal Stopford. Principal Stopford did not return to Trinity, but continued to serve the church and later rose to be the Bishop of London.

The first Ceylonese Principal Mr. C.E. Simithrarachchy (1941-1951) was a great conservationist and a disciplinarian under whom Trinity consolidated using all that was best in its heritage. When Ceylon became independent in 1948 Trinity College was fully equipped to serve the Nation. Far-sighted decisions made Trinity College a model school and a storehouse of experience. In 1950 under him, Trinity College Kandy became an independent school and to this day remains so, as a fee-levying private school recognized by the educational authorities of the Government of Sri Lanka. After the retirement of Mr. Simithrarachchi, the school went back to the old tradition of British leadership and appointed Norman Walter (1952-1957) a young and zealous man. Perhaps he was the most industrious Principal under whom progress was all round, particularly in buildings. He was the last of the British Principals. With the independence of the country there were considerable changes particularly with regard to language policy, and it was thought wiser to hand over Trinity to local management. The policy laying body of the school is the Board Of Governors under the Anglican Bishops of Ceylon. The Board in consultation with the retiring Principal appointed a Sri Lankan C.J. Oorloff as Principal (1957-1968).
It was a very wise decision, for the new Principal was a mature man with a very fine record as a high ranking civil servant. He headed Wesely College, Colombo before he came to Trinity. In his day the country was perhaps going through its most difficult period, as anti-British policies were fashionable and national feelings were roused sometimes reaching hysterical proportions. Even the right to survive as an independent school was challenged, many schools in the education system were taken over to the government but Trinity College remained as it was. Mr. Oorloff’s policy of quiet dignified management paid ample dividends. It was indeed a period of stabilization. He was able to accommodate changes taking place in the country whilst maintaining all that was best in the history of Trinity.
Mr. Oorloff retired after 12 years and was succeeded by Mr. Lionel Fernando (1968-1977), a person with administrative experience, new in the field of education, but not a stranger to the school, as he was an old boy. He was the second old boy, to be a Principal of the College, the first being Mr. Simithrarachchy.

Mr. Lionel Fernando had a strong devotion to the school, Understanding the students psychology was his forte. If the main purpose of Trinity is to bring out the best of the character of the student, Mr. Fernando’s ability was a good respite. He threw himself into the life of the school with his deputy, Hillary Abeyrathne, another illustrious old boy who has devoted his life to the service of the school. They believed that the school should have closer ties with the community.

The period of Mr. Lionel Fernando and Hillary Abeyarathne are unique as being two old boys there was total commitment. During their period the Swimming Pool project was begun, which was completed during the time of Rev. Dr Wickramasinghe. The period ended with the departure of Hillary Aberyrathne for Australia, and the early retirement of the Principal. There was an interlude before a permanent Principal was appointed. During this time Rev. Harold De Mel acted as Principal.

Rev. Dr. W.A. Wickremasinghe (1978-1988) was appointed as permanent principal. The legendary Cricket field of Asgiriya was transformed into an International Cricket Stadium during his time. The architect of this project was the Minister in charge of the Mahaweli Development Scheme. This was a daring task into which the Cabinet Minister Lionel Gamini Dissanayeke a loyal old boy threw himself until its completion. It is also noteworthy that the Principal Rev. Dr. W.G. Wickramasinghe embarked on another gigantic project, the Agriculture school in Pallekale, Kandy. This was an attempt to have an institution of higher learning affiliated to Trinity. This although functional for 8 years, did not bear results as expected. Trinity still hopes that such an institution will be a reality in the near future.

Principal Wickramasinghe retired having served ten years of noteworthy service. He himself nominated his successor Captain. L.M. De. Alwis, another old boy who had risen from the bottom of the school as a student, asst. Master, Head Master of the primary school and finally as Principal. As Vice Principal he had the services of Mr. C.B. Rathnayake and another senior master Paul Jeyaraj. Although the Principal took over the mantle with reduced powers compared to those of his predecessors the period was one of quiet and calm improvement. There was a marked improvement in public examination results, many buildings were erected, namely the new science block, auditorium, the new administration block and the rugger stadium at Pallekale.

Principal Lt. Col. L.M. De Alwis was succeeded by another old boy Dr. W.R. Breckenridge. Dr. W.R. Breckenridge retired from his job as the Professor of Zoology of the University of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya, to join Trinity College. The new Principal was no stranger to the school. He was an old boy and son of a well known master R.R. Breckenridge.

Trinity College has evolved into a national school emphasizing good discipline while offering students every facility to grow into a complete personality; a school with activities so diversified that there is abundant life throughout the day every day. Those passing through the school have held positions of responsibility in their own land and have shown remarkable competence at international level. It is a multi-ethnicl and a multi-religious school which, having a Christian foundation, will undoubtedly help to establish peace and harmony amongst a divided nation.

Trinity College will build on its heritage and goes to greater heights in the new millennium. The motto of Trinity is “Respice Finem”, so Trinity looks if not to the end, but to the years ahead in serving the youth of Sri Lanka.

Article From: www.trinitycollege.lk

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