Kingswood steps into one hundred and twenty six years in a turbulent storm within one of the oldest Unions of Old Boys over an Annual General Meeting. But the prize -giving of the school would be held today with an Old Boy as the Chief Guest. The normal practice of an old Boy as the Guest of the Week would not be there while the Provincial Director is the Guest of Honour. Are these changes for the good of the school founded by a journalist and historian.
There is no parallel anywhere in the world that a journalist had founded an educational Institution and has lasted for one hundred and twenty five years. But, Kingswood College Kandy founded by a journalist Louis Edmund Blaze has withstood the currents of time. He was the Editor of “Ceylon Independent” and built a public school for the children of the country. He also became a Historian.
There seems to be nothing wrong when the Union of Old Boys goes before Courts, as Kingswood has a vibrant group of students who pass out of its portals. But, the fate remains. The Annual General Meeting is now in abeyance.
Kingswood was the first school to be handed over when schools were taken over by the State. It was also a decision by the Wesleyan Mission. The school proudly presents the three gates, one imported from the United Kingdom, one from South Africa and the other from England. But, unfortunately a Principal, removed this unique blessed gate to the area of the lower school and a new gate was constructed for the Mahapola exhibition, in order to take a heavy truck. But, “Mahapola” never materialized and disfigured the school entrance.
Kingswood was known as ‘Blaze School’ founded in 1891 with twelve students, based on the foundations of public schools in England. Blaze was Sri Lankan, but was an Indian graduate from an Indian University, having his basics at Trinity College, Kandy. Kingswood was founded as “Kandy Boys’ High School” with a sister school as “ Kandy Girls’ High School”. Both were Methodist Mission schools.
On fourth May 1891, Kingswood saw the light of day as “The Kandy Boys’ High School” and later changed the name to “Kingswood College” in 1898.
There are many firsts at Kingswood woven for the benefit of the country, not only for the school. Traffic Units were born at Kingswood College when a senior prefect Sanaraja Banda Senaratne mooted the idea for a school traffic unit way back in the nineteen fiftys. Kingswood commenced rugby and gave up after a player died after an attack of a kick. It was the first school to recruit woman teachers such as Miss Annie Bartholomeuz to a boys’ school. The first to introduce school bands. The first to send a delegate Francis Rajapakse, to a World jamboree in Paris, and the only delegate to represent Sri Lanka at the Centenary Congress of the Red Cross. These are only a few of the many firsts...
The blessings of Blaze was that any child who passes out of the portals of Kingswood could live up to its standards and also fit into any society, high or low. There was no supremacy and everyone was equal, humble and disciplined. Blaze instilled this concept to the pupils at a very early age, so much so that when the Tulba family of Egyptians were exiled from Egypt and lived in Sri Lanka, they opted for Kingswood for their children’s future rather than ‘forcing’ them into other recognised school’s in Colombo.
The 156th birth anniversary of the founder falls on 29th September, born in 1861.
Blaze forsook an appointment offered by Professor Mars to be the Editor of the one time Journal “Ceylon Independent” for a short-lived journalistic career. He was also an author of Ceylon History.
The 156th birth anniversary of the founder falls on 29th September, born in 1861
Kingswood was the first school to be handed over when schools were taken over by the State
Kingswood is the only school that has prologues recited
Blaze took to journalism at the age of 15 when he was a student of Trinity College and became the founder editor of the fortnightly school magazine, the “Gleaner “ which he commenced on 15th May 1876. He commenced the classes with eleven pupils at No. 11, Pavilion Street, Kandy which is now Deva Veediya and houses an Attorneys’ office. When the school was at Pavilion Street, the Courts was in close proximity and a number of incidents had occurred during this period. One suchstory is when a boy saw a ‘cock’ walking on the narrow pavement of Pavilion Street. Out came the catapult and the cock rolled on the ground and lay still. Right behind the boy was the ‘Arm of the Law’ and the boy was taken to the Court, which was close by, now the International Cultural Centre. The Magistrate then was firm and also human. He asked, “Where is the cock?” The policeman could not touch the cock, because the cock stood up shook his feathers and walked away, among the laughter of the the legal fraternity and the Magistrate. That was life then.
The first prize giving of Kingswood was held in 1895 at the Kandy Town Hall which continued to be the venue till 1904 after which it was moved into Kandy Girls’ High School Hall and back to the Town Hall.
"There was no supremacy and everyone was equal, humble and disciplined. Blaze instilled this concept to the pupils at a very early age, so much so that when the Tulba family of Egyptians were exiled from Egypt and lived in Sri Lanka, they opted for Kingswood for their children’s future rather than ‘forcing’ them into other recognised school’s in Colombo. "
The first Chief Guest was F. Dornorst and the unique prologue was read by E.G. Jonklass. The privileged student to read the prologue was the winner of the oratory prize of the school, then and even now. Kingswood seldom invites politicians to be their Chief Guest, unless he is the Head of State.
Kingswood is the only school that has prologues recited and this tradition was borrowed from Harrow of England, where prize day poems were recited. In the words of Blaze, the object of the prologue was to get rid of the restlessness that is created during Prize Day in any school. In fact it was a diversion.
Blaze was the first graduate to obtain the B.A.Degree from the University of Calcutta, as student from Trinity College. Then he taught at the Boys’ School of Lahore for a short time after graduation. Blaze’s grandfather Hendrik Carl Blaze was a highly placed person in the United Kingdom. He arrived in Sri Lanka as the third mate on board the ship “Amphitribe”. He had three children including Henry Blaze, who was the father of of Louis Edmund Blaze. The Wesleyan Methodist Conference in England appointed Henry Blaze as a teacher to the Methodist Mission school at Bentota in 1821.
Henry Blaze then became the Headmaster of the Government Boys’ School, Payagala in 1826 and married a school teacher Margaret Caroline de Joodt in the same year.
A brief caning incident at Kingswood shows Blaze the educationist par excellence at work. It is recorded that when a boy had to be caned, he asked one of the boys to bring a cane and one who volunteered and jumped forward to bring the cane was the one who was caned by Blaze. The reason attributed by Blaze was that the boy who jumped to bring the cane was very eager to see one of his colleagues being punished. This he used to say was not the spirit of Kingswood.
Kingswood had no science teachers and the Wesleyan Mission ‘imported’ them from India. Most of them did not return . They were involved with the spirit of Kingswood and their contribution spelt beyond the school walls.
Kingswood was lucky enough to obtain a spacious land to build the school in the present premises at Peradeniya Road. The gift was by a man who never set his foot on Kingswood soil nor did he see what was happening at the new education Institution. Sir John Randles the benefactor in England was looking for a school to which he could give 10,000 sterling pounds. The Wesleyan Mission selected Kingswood, which by this time was firmly built by its founder.