Anecdotes from my time with Richmond College, Galle

5 July 2017 01:32 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Nizam Cader, was born in 1926 making him 91 years, as of date. He is one of the founder members of the ‘Sixty Club’. It is remarkable that he could recall some anecdotes from his time. He sent a letter reminiscing his days at Richmond which is reproduced below unedited except for correcting the spelling of a name. 

  • Richmond College is now 204 years old; started by the British Missionary
  • During our time, there were only 325 students. now I think it is well over 4,000
  • Every third child had to pay only 50 cents as facility fees!
  • On a clear day, Adam’s Peak could be seen from Richmond Hill

Greetings to the members of Richmond College over 60’s club. I joined in 1933 and studied up to 1940. Richmond is now 204 years old, and was started by the British missionary.   

I was born in Galle Fort on August 17, 1926. My two brothers Razik and Dr. Zain Cader, and my cousins Lafat Hassen, Dr. Ansari Hassen, and M.C.T. Cassim travelled together from Galle Fort to school. I started schooling from Kindergarten. The Head Teacher Rita Kale also lived in Galle Fort. The other KG teachers were Ms. E.M. Jansz, L.N. Jansz, and Ms. Gunewardene.   
I don’t know how to start, but I will mention what comes to my mind...   

From Kindergarten, we went to standard 2. I still remember the great principal of the school, mainly the Rev. A.A. Sneath, who was an imposing figure who visited our classes once in a way. I also remember E.R. de Silva, followed by Shelton Wirasinha. Rev. Dolby was one of the Principals of Richmond College during my time.   

Every day we used to have assembly in the Darrell Hall, a masterpiece in engineering. A roof standing without any support from below. Rev. Darrell planned and built the college hall. He died during the plague helping the sick.   

We had some great teachers at the time. Saa Bandaranayake who later became the headmaster of Royal Primary. Maj. Adihetty was more a preacher than a teacher and discipline was number one for him. As soon as he entered the class, he would write on the blackboard ‘Don’t have Jealousy, Anger and Pride’ (emphasis by the editor).   During the Richmond vs Mahinda match, he would say ‘If Mahinda plays well cheer Mahinda, if Richmond does well cheer Richmond. Play the game, play fair and let the better side win’ (emphasis by the editor).   

We also had teachers like A.C.G. Abeywardene who liked to play the fool in or out of the class. R. S. Wickremasinghe, S.I. Perera, K.T. Koshy (From India) and Ms. Gunewardene were the other teachers.   

About a year ago, I went to Richmond College and met the Principal, and got his permission to open the Darrell Hall for me which he readily did. During our time, it was an assembly hall, where we sung  hymns or the Principal addressed the students. It is sad to say that the hundreds of chairs that were used for assembly were not there any more, perhaps been put to other use.   

Every day we used to have assembly in the Darrell Hall, a masterpiece in engineering. A roof standing without any support from below. Rev. Darrell planned and built the college hall. He died during the plague helping the sick

During our time, there were only 325 students. Now I think over 4,000. During my time, G.W.S. de Silva, was collecting the school fees. During the British period, parents were encouraged to send children to school, and every 3rd child had to only pay 50 cents as facility fees! I had to pay only 50 cents. I am sad to say the beautiful flamboyant trees on the way to Richmond Hill are no more. It was said on a clear day, Adam’s Peak could be seen from Richmond Hill. There was a big ‘Ata Amba’ tree which was supposed to be haunted. We dreaded to pass that tree on concert days at night. I used to close my eyes and run down the hill. At that time, there was one tap, in which all our boys used to quench their thirst. This was opposite the kindergarten.   

Sometimes our books would get stolen, so we used to write on the inside cover “Steal not this book for fear or shame for God will ask on the judgment day, where the book you stole that day” (emphasis by the editor).   

At the end of the year, the boys had autograph albums in which the children would write, what they wished. One such thing I can remember was ‘the grass is green, the rose is red, remember me till I am dead, dead, dead’. ‘Some anecdotes’ I recall from Richmond days: the boys used to sing a song before the year end - One week more and where shall we be - out of the bounds of RCG. From Richmond, I went to S. Thomas’ Mt. Lavinia in 1940, and did my O/Levels there. My favourite subject was general knowledge both at Richmond and STC. I can remember the longest river in the world Nile and the highest mountain, Mt. Everest, and Sri Lanka’s highest mountain the Piduruthalagala in Nuwara Eliya 6,199ft. I could remember all the railway stations from Galle to Colombo and the largest railway network in the world (India) and the distance from point Pedro to Dondra Head.   

Before the end of the exam, the class teacher used to assess the chances of each student. When it came to my turn, he put his hand on his head, and said ‘Oh Cader, miracles do happen’. But it did not happen. I left school and joined the family business on March 14, 1947. Thus ended my school career by mentioning the Thomian motto “Be thou forever Richmond”. May God Bless Richmond College. Now I am retired, and a grandfather of five boys and two girls, and great grandfather of two great grandchildren. This is the happiest time of my life.   

I wish all the Richmondites; past and present and all the teachers and the Principal of Richmond College, the best of luck. Richmond is most certainly one of the best schools in Sri Lanka.   

Nizam Cader   
6A MAITLAND CRESCENT,   
COLOMBO 7.  

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