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Maritzburg College is a secondary school for boys situated in the city of Pietermaritzburg, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It was founded in 1863[1]:18 and is the oldest boys' high school in KwaZulu-Natal – and one of the oldest schools in South Africa.[2] It is attended by 1 340 students, of whom approximately 480 are boarders.[3]

Maritzburg College
South Africa
TypeSemi private school, Boys
MottoPro Aris et Focis
HeadmasterCJ Luman (since 2013)
Exam boardKZN
Grades8 - 12 (Forms 2 - 6)
Enrollment1 340
School colour(s)Red, Black and White
FeesDay Scholar:

R44 525 p/a (Grade 9-12)

R47 200 p/a (Grade 8)


R111 425 p/a (Grade 9-12)

R117 300 p/a (Grade 8)

Maritzburg College was ranked 4th out of the top 100 best high schools in Africa by Africa Almanac in 2003, based upon quality of education, student engagement, strength and activities of alumni, school profile, internet and news visibility.[4]



Victorian originsEdit

RD Clark (eighth from the right) poses with boys and colleagues shortly after taking occupation of the newly built "Main Building", 1888.

Maritzburg College was founded as the Pietermaritzburg High School in 1863, by William Calder, in a carpenter's shop in what is today Langalibalele Street, to accommodate the influx of children arriving at the new city of Pietermaritzburg and its surrounding farmlands in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. As the school - commonly known as 'College' - swelled, "the best-trained [architect] in the Colony", PM Dudgeon,[5] was commissioned to design – on the then outskirts of the city – a larger classroom and boarding block, which was completed in 1888[1]:101 and later became known as 'Clark House', honouring the school's third headmaster, RD Clark (MA (Oxon)), who is often referred to as ‘the Father of College’.[1]:174 Clark House carries the KwaZulu-Natal provincial heritage authorities' seal certifying it as a heritage landmark.[1]:460 A similar honour was bestowed on the school's Victoria Hall,[1]:460 the building of which commenced in 1897 (Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee year) and which served as a British Army hospital from November 1899 until July 1900 during the Second Boer War.[1]:165–172


Since the school's foundation in 1863, the following 15 men have held the post of headmaster of Maritzburg College:

  • Calder, William (Edinburgh Training College), 1863-1867
  • Forder, James, BA (Cantab), 1868-1878
  • Clark, Robert D, MA (Oxon), 1879-1902
  • Barns, Ernest W ('Pixie'), MA (London), 1902-1925
  • Pape, Septimus W, MA (Oxon), 1926-1937
  • Snow, John H ('Froggy'), BA Hons (London), 1937-1941
  • Hudson, John W ('John-Willie'), BA (NUC), 1941-1953
  • Fuller, Raymond E ('Bones'), BA, 1954-1965 *
  • Commons, Hector J, MA (South Africa), 1966-1977 *
  • Olivier, Keith, BA UED (Natal), 1978-1985 *
  • Forde, R Dudley, MA (Natal), 1986-1992
  • Elliott, Kenneth P, BA BEd (Natal), 1992-2002 *
  • Pearson, Clive, BA UED (Rhodes), 2003-2005
  • Jury, D Ronald, BSc UED (Natal), 2006-2012
  • Luman, Christopher J, MED (UNISA) BA HDE (UCT) PGDip Sport Management (Massey), 2013-

Prominent members of staffEdit

The following men were renowned as schoolmasters at Maritzburg College in the first 100 years of its existence:

  • Rev John Dryden Stalker (Senior Assistant Master 1881-1902): Stalker was made Vice-Principal of the (then) High School under Mr RD Clark in 1881, and remained in that post until shortly after the departure of 'his beloved old chief' in 1902. An ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church, he is described as 'a strange spiky-looking man with a long, flowing beard'. Although he had none of RD Clark's bonhomie, being a somewhat 'hot-tempered and severe man', he was an English scholar of the first order, with a deep knowledge and love for the works of Shakespeare, from whose plays he could quote vast passages on demand.[1]:78–80
  • AS Langley (Senior Resident Master 1897-1909): As a schoolboy in England in the 1880s, Langley had come 'under the narcotic influence' of rugby,[6] and his admiration of athleticism was to henceforth be a hallmark of his vigorous, formidable personality. He captained and later coached the Maritzburg College First XV, and at the end of 1909 departed for the Durban High School, where he was to earn lasting fame as an iron-willed Head Master from 1910 to 1931.[6] His nickname, 'Madevu', came from the Zulu word for 'moustache'.[6]
  • William Abbit (Senior Resident Master 1902-1925): Known forever as 'Fluff', Abbit had shown himself to be a gifted mathematician at Cambridge University, where he had been the Second Wrangler of his year. His teaching 'was somewhat inspired by communion with Bacchus', and the stories of his escapades are part of the school's folklore. One of the school's favourite legends has it that his ghost still inhabits Clark House, where he lived for 23 years until shortly before his death in 1927.[1]:185–189
  • Robert Goldstone (staff 1909-1939, Games Master): A New Zealander by birth, Goldstone served in the Second Boer War. An amiable, kindly man, somewhat given in his later years to dozing off in class, Goldstone's first love was the military band. The school's primary sports field was named in his honour.[1]:280
  • Sholto Erroll Lamond (staff 1911-1950, Vice-Principal 1924-1950): An Old Collegian, Lamond had a 48-year association with the school that started when he arrived at the school as an 11-year-old schoolboy in 1902.[1]:312[a] He was dux of College in 1908 and 1909, and, apart from a short break in 1926 at the Durban High School (which he memorably referred to as his 'locust years'), he taught at the school until 1950. He knew generations of schoolboys by name, and often amazed everyone by being able to give a detailed account of a boy's history at College.[1]:279–280
  • Charles Carpenter (Vice-Principal 1926-1934): When Pape was appointed headmaster in 1925, he insisted that Carpenter be brought in as the Vice-Principal from the Durban High School to help him restore discipline. Most of the boys were terrified of both men, who were both infamously fond of the rod. As is memorably described in the school's official history, 'if they had been asked to describe him, most of his pupils might well have dubbed him 'The Iron Schoolmaster'... [The] boys avoided the main staircase leading up past his rooms, in much the same way as the footman probably avoided the precincts of Ivan the Terrible. An ill-advised cough uttered outside of Carpenter's den could lead to that gentleman asking the offender to step inside and sample one of the seven canes he kept in his study and Carpenter was not in the habit of wasting his time with less than six cuts.'[1]:252
  • RW Kent (staff 1926-1957, Vice-Principal 1950-1957): An Englishman who had served in the trenches in World War I, Kent was known to generations of Collegians as 'Tiger'. Cricket and, to a lesser degree, athletics, were his great passions, and he coached the 1st XI (cricket) from 1927-1956, in that time producing five national and 26 provincial players, and 54 provincial schools' caps. The Kent Pavilion, which overlooks the school's main sports ground, was named in his honour.[1]:254–255[7]
  • Max Castle (staff 1946-1979, Vice-Principal): Castle had been a schoolboy at College under Septimus Pape. An excellent teacher, he was renowned for his explosive temper. According to a schoolboy legend, Max had sustained a war injury which required the fitting of a metal plate in his head. Hot weather, it was rumoured, caused this plate to expand with devastating consequences.[1]:344
  • Zablon Kwela (staff 1948-1976, senior groundsman): Kwela was a legendary supporter of the school's First XV (rugby). He became a fixture at rugby games with his cries of 'Liya shoni langa, College!' ('The sun is setting, College!') and 'Ekhaya!' ('It's home-time!') echoing across the field. He certainly did not stint giving advice on the players and the game plan to the coach, Skonk Nicholson, and he was known to place the odd bet on the outcome of matches.[8]
  • Bryan 'Voerie' Bates (staff 1957-1979, Vice-Principal): An old boy of the school, Bates was a stickler for good manners. Any boy who failed to greet a staff member in the approved manner was likely to find himself spending his entire break outside the only entrance to the staff room raising his boater (known at the school as a 'basher') on high to every teacher who came past.[8]
  • James Mervyn "Skonk" Nicholson (staff 1948-1982, Vice-Principal): A dedicated geography teacher - while being a DHS old boy - he was the 1st XV rugby coach for most of his tenure, coaching 14 unbeaten 1st XV sides and firmly establishing College as one of South Africa's premier rugby schools.[8]

School crestEdit

Badge of the Maritzburg College Old Boys' Association, which was founded in 1897

The school crest is a red shield with a crossed carbine and assegai (a traditional Zulu weapon), over the Latin scroll bearing Pro Aris et Focis (For Hearth and Home).

The College colours of red, black and white were first introduced in 1891 by the captain of the school's football team, EJ Holgate.[1]:148 A short while later, Mr RD Clark instituted the school motto (derived from the Latin inscription he composed for the Colonial War Memorial, now in the foyer of Clark House) and the badge of carbine-and-assegai, both of which were initially connected more with the school's Old Boys' Association than the school.[1]:148 An ardent Victorian, Mr Clark was especially proud that 11 of his young school's sons had perished in the valiant colonial struggles 'for hearth and home' (the motto) – hence the school's martial insignia too.[9] Notably, 7 alumni had perished at the bloody Battle of Isandlwana, and one of the school's most prized artefacts is an assegai that had been retrieved from the battlefield in June 1879 and was presented to the school on Founder's Day 2018.

Debate has taken place as to why Holgate chose the combination of red, black and white for the school's colours. A popular belief is that they highlight the various skirmishes, battles and wars between the British and the Zulu that took place in the late 19th century (especially Isandlwana), with the colours representing the warring parties (white and black) and the blood that was shed between them (red).[1]:147–148

Mr RD Clark (MA (Oxon)) – 'the Father of Maritzburg College'


Although Maritzburg College had been a boarding school since its foundation in 1863, the school's system of sports Houses was only introduced in 1902. Initially, a system of four Houses was introduced, with a fifth House – Nathan House – being introduced in 1910.[1]:182 The old Houses were as follows:

  • Clark's, named after the third headmaster, RD Clark (headmaster 1879-1902)
  • Stalker's, named after Clark's long-serving senior assistant master, Rev John D Stalker (staff 1881-1902)[1]:488
  • Langley's, named after Stalker's successor, AS 'Madevu' Langley (staff 1897-1909)[1]:488
  • Oxland's, named after an early Games Master at the school, Mr W Oxland (staff 1901-1908)[1]:488
  • Sir Matthew Nathan House – or simply Nathan's – after the last governor of Natal, Sir Matthew Nathan[1]:199

The old House system of five sporting Houses was replaced in 2014 with ten new so-called 'day' Houses, each of which meet every morning, have about 130 boys, and form the basis of the school's strong mentoring programme. The Houses are now as follows:

  • Calder's, named after the first headmaster, William Calder
  • Forder's, named after the second headmaster, James Forder
  • Barns', named after the fourth headmaster, Ernest Barns
  • Pape's, named after the fifth headmaster, Septimus Pape
  • Snow's, named after the sixth headmaster, John Snow
  • Fuller's, named after the eighth headmaster, Raymond Fuller
  • Commons', named after the ninth headmaster, Hector Commons
  • Lamond's, named after former Vice Principal, SE Lamond (staff 1911-1950)
  • Nicholson's, named after former Deputy Headmaster and distinguished rugby coach, JM Skonk Nicholson (staff 1944-1982)
  • Strachan's, named after former Deputy Headmaster, JR 'Cabbage' Strachan (staff 1952-1978)[10]

The annual inter-house competition between the 10 Houses sees them compete in over 25 academic, sports, cultural and community-based events for the Forder Cup for Champion House.

The system of day or sporting Houses is not to be confused with the school's five boarding Houses. To begin with, the sporting and boarding Houses were linked, with the boarders being allocated to Clark's and Langley's sporting Houses (and later Nathan's), and the dayboys to Stalker's and Oxland's. However, since the headmastership of Mr Snow (headmaster 1937-1941), all boys have been allocated randomly to the sports Houses.[1]:281–282 Thus, a boarder in, say, the Clark House boarding establishment might these days find himself in Nicholson's day House.

The school's five boarding Houses are:

  • Nathan House: opened in 1910 and the home of the school's approximately 100 grade 8 (Form 2) boarders
  • Clark House: home to about 120 boys in Forms 3-5
  • Hudson House: opened in 1958 and home to about 155 boys in Forms 3-5
  • Elliott House: opened in 1998 and home to about 65 Form 6 boarders (originally called College House until 2013)
  • Shepstone House: purchased from the Shepstone family on behalf of the school in 1919 and used for many years as the school's sanatorium and for staff housing.[1]:199 Since January 2018, the original old building has been used to house 30 grade 10 boarders, as well as staff and prefects, who from September of that year move into a newly-built fifth boarding house.[11]

Academic standardsEdit

The school employs 105 teachers on its academic staff - in addition to scores of administrative, estates, additional sports and other support staff. The subjects offered at grade 12 level include accounting, agricultural science, Afrikaans, business studies, dramatic arts, economics, English, geography, engineering & graphic design, history, information technology, life sciences, life orientation, mathematics, mathematical literacy, physical science, visual arts and Zulu.[12] Despite its size and its customary prowess on the sports field, Maritzburg College's academic standards are traditionally strong. At the end of both 2016 and 2017 it was able to boast amongst the best results for a top tier school in the country. In 2016, all 275 of its grade 12 pupils passed the National Senior Certificate, with 95% achieving a university entrance qualification. Four of its boys were placed in the top 20 in the province and eight in the top 20 in the district, in which its matriculants attained the best marks in a number of subjects. The Class of 2017 achieved amongst the school's best results ever, with a 100% pass rate and record 97% of the candidates achieving a university entrance qualification, with H le Roux being placed second in the province.[13]

Privileges, traditions and disciplineEdit

One of the school's distinct features is its hierarchical system, which is underpinned by a long-established set of privileges and duties. The most well-known duties include 'team-testing' (the rote-learning of school teams etc. by juniors), 'running' (the carrying out of any errands by Form 2 boys for prefects), 'fagging' (a watered-down version of the old Victorian custom) and 'waiting-at-doors'. School traditions include the wearing by all boys of straw boaters (known as bashers), which are hurled into the air at First XV rugby matches, and the saying of the word 'please' when a junior is addressing a senior boy. Because of its possibly contentious nature, the hierarchical system of privileges that underpins the school's ethos is monitored by the school's traditions committee, which is made up of staff, alumni and senior prefects.[14] College's structure of traditions and concepts date back to similar styles found in traditional British boarding schools, and it is perhaps one of the few schools in South Africa where this structure is retained to something like its original extent.


The first inter-schools cricket and rugby matches were both played against the Deutsche Schule Hermannsburg, on 6 October 1870, with the old Pietermaritzburg High School (now Maritzburg College) winning both fixtures. The cricket match was played in the morning on the Camp Grounds and the rugby match was played in the afternoon on the Pietermaritzburg market square.[1]:52–53

Maritzburg College offers a wide variety of sports, including rugby, cricket, canoeing, hockey, athletics, swimming, water polo, tennis, shooting, soccer, basketball, cross-country, squash and golf.[15]

The school has fixtures against its rival schools such as Durban High School (founded in 1866), Glenwood High School and Westville Boys' High School in and around Durban, and the local private schools, Michaelhouse, Hilton College and Kearsney College. Records show College to be the strongest sporting school in the province in sports such as rugby, cricket, canoeing, polo, polocrosse and hockey.[1]:475, 478 & 482

The Victoria Hall. The building was completed in 1899 and was used as a military hospital by the British authorities during the Boer War

The school's search for greater sporting competition has taken it beyond the province's borders, and each year in winter it has derby days against Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (known as 'Affies'), Pretoria Boys High School and King Edward VII School (Johannesburg) (known as 'KES') in Gauteng, in which about 700 College boys take part.[15]

From 1944 until 1982, the school enjoyed the services of the noted geography master and schoolboy rugby coach, the late Mr Skonk Nicholson, whose name is iconic with Maritzburg College and schoolboy rugby, and who is well respected in the South African rugby community as having nurtured many Collegians to national and international sporting fame. In his 35 seasons in charge of the First XV (rugby), his teams established a playing record of Played 504, Won 403, Drew 49 and Lost 52.[16]

Amongst its many notable Old Boys (known as Old Collegians), it can count (as at April 2018) 298 sporting internationals,[17] including 31 Old Collegians who have captained South African national sides.[18] In addition, Kevin Pietersen captained the England cricket team[19] and Darian Townsend captained the USA swimming team. Four Old Collegians attended the 2004 Olympic Games, with Darian Townsend winning a gold medal as part of the world record-setting SA 4 x 100 freestyle team, and Donovan Cech winning a bronze medal in the rowing; six attended the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and four attended the 2012 Olympics in London.[20] Six Old Collegians, across hockey, cycling and swimming, were included in the SA team competing in the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast, Australia.[21]

Saturdays during the summer months can often yield 30 cricket teams (an under 14P XI has occasionally been produced), and up to 29 rugby teams and 21 hockey teams during winter.[15]

Notable Old CollegiansEdit


Maritzburg College has produced many Old Boys who have distinguished themselves. Amongst its former scholars it can count 11 South African senators, seven generals, two admirals, a Commissioner of Police, eight Officers Commanding of the Natal Carbineers alone, arguably South Africa's pre-eminent English author, two Chancellors of the University of Natal, three Directors of Education, an Emmy Award-winning cameraman, two bishops, a winner of the Polar Medal, a Chief Justice, 10 judges (including a current member of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein), three Attorneys-General, many Members of Parliament and successful businessmen, and 23 Rhodes scholars.[b]

As already mentioned, College has produced locally and internationally acclaimed sportsmen, with a tally of 273 international sportsmen to date, and as such is amongst the most produced by a single South African school.[c] Amongst that number are a former Mr USA (bodybuilding), 31 SA captains, 2 overseas captains, 10 captains of polo alone, 6 2008 Olympians, 4 2012 Olympians, and the "man who won the 2005 Ashes" for England, Kevin Pietersen.[19] The school's most recent international sportsmen include a trio of young hockey players - Tyson Dlungwana, Tevin Kok and Siyavuya Nolutshungu - a double-international swimmer/life-saver (Martin Binedell) and two cyclists (Brendan Davids and Bradley Potgieter), all of whom will be competing for South Africa at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Jesse Kriel is a current member of the Springboks, Ryan Moon plays for the SA national soccer team Bafana Bafana, Don Armand enjoyed a second England rugby cap in March 2018, and 'master blaster' David Miller is a world record-holding[22] exponent of limited overs cricket. Another well-known sportsman produced by the school is Andy Birkett, who since he matriculated at the end of 2008 has emerged as one of the country's pre-eminent marathon canoeists, having won the Dusi Canoe Marathon 8 times in the last 9 years and formed one half of the pair who won the 2017 K2 world canoe marathon title. In addition to its 273 international sportsmen, a further 25 Old Collegians have officiated at an international level in sport - including Rugby World Cup rugby referee Craig Joubert, former Test (cricket) umpire Dave Orchard and current Ireland cricket coach Graham Ford.

Roll of HonourEdit

The school's Roll of Honour lists the names of 261 former scholars (as at April 2018) who have given their lives in wars since the first Old Collegian casualty fell in 1873 (1863 foundation scholar, Trooper Robert Erskine, who was killed in a skirmish with the Hlubi at Bushman's River Pass).[23] All of their names are displayed on College's numerous war memorials and honours boards, including precisely 100 on the First World War Memorial in front of Clark House and 129 on the honours board in the school chapel that records the names of Old Collegians who died in the Second World War. The most Old Collegians killed in single actions are 11 at the Battle of Delville Wood from 14–20 July 1916 and seven at the famous Battle of Isandlwana (at which over 1,300 British and colonial troops were slaughtered by the Zulus during the Zulu War – a memorial in honour of those fallen Old Boys was unveiled on the battlefield in 1969, on the 90th anniversary of that battle);[1]:395 and at Gelib in Italian Somaliland in 1941, during the infamous 'White Flag Incident' that claimed the lives of 13 Royal Natal Carbineers.[24] A total of 27 alumni died at the Battle of the Somme, which was fought between July and December 1916.[25] Old Collegians have also earned a considerable tally of decorations and awards, especially during the two World Wars – the most recent award being the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded in 2012 to Fl Lt LD Flemington, RAF.[26]

List of notable Old Collegians (selected) (by year of matriculation)Edit


  1. ^ As an aside, his first name is sometimes erroneously given as Shafto - this was his brother's name.
  2. ^ The list and details of notable Old Collegians are recorded and maintained by the Maritzburg College Archives, and the school's Archives Committee meets quarterly. The school's archivist is Mrs H Ridley, MA.
  3. ^ It is difficult to verify the popular claim that Maritzburg College has produced the most out of all schools in South Africa, but informal enquiries by a member of the school's Archives Committee at notable schools such as Grey College, King Edward VII School, Pretoria Boys High School and the Diocesan College (Bishops) confirm that Maritzburg College's tally was, as at April 2013, higher than the totals of the schools mentioned.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Haw, Simon (1988). For hearth and home : the story of Maritzburg College, 1863-1988 (1st ed.). Pietermaritzburg: M.C. Publications. ISBN 9780620130868. OCLC 38771242. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Historic Schools of South Africa", Hawthorne, P, and Bristow, B, Pachyderm Press cc, 1993
  3. ^ "Maritzburg College admission numbers", memorandum provided by the Maritzburg College admission department in March 2018
  4. ^ "top20highschools". Africa Almanac. Africa Almanac. 1 October 2003. Archived from the original on 14 January 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2016. The research leading up to the publication of the 100 Best High Schools in Africa began with the launching of the website in December 2000.
  5. ^ for a biography of Philip Maurice Dudgeon, see
  6. ^ a b c "Skonk Nicholson Remembers Mr Langley", Maritzburg College Archives, 2010
  7. ^ "Tribute to Mr Ronnie Kent" 1957, Maritzburg College Archives
  8. ^ a b c Contents of a board in the school museum titled "College Characters", commissioned in September 2013
  9. ^ Draft text for the new Maritzburg College Museum, July 2012, as composed by the Maritzburg College Archives (ref: M Marwick)
  10. ^ Records of the Maritzburg College Archives, September 2013
  11. ^ Records of the Maritzburg College Archives, April 2018
  12. ^ See p26 of the 2016 school magazine, as produced (Louch, T: editor) in September 2017.
  13. ^ See //
  14. ^ "Form 2 Nathan House Privileges (Summary)", dated April 2018, as contained in the Maritzburg College Archives
  15. ^ a b c "Maritzburg College school magazine 2016, Louch, T (Ed.), Coloir Display Printers (Pty) Ltd, 2017
  16. ^ "Jimeloyo-Ji! A History of the Maritzburg College First XV", Nicholson, JM, and Wiblin, AJ, MC Publications, 1990
  17. ^ Minutes of the meeting of the Maritzburg College Archives Committee, 2 March 2018
  18. ^ "Maritzburg College's International Sports Captains", document maintained by the Maritzburg College Archives, March 2018
  19. ^ a b "England / Players / Kevin Pietersen". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  20. ^ as verified by records maintained by the Maritzburg College Archives and regularly referred to in various school and Old Boy publications. See for example "The College Old Boy", no 28, January 2011, Marwick, M (Ed.)
  21. ^ "Maritzburg College's Five Commonwealth Games selections", article composed by the Maritzburg College Archives, April 2018
  22. ^ See
  23. ^ "Pro Patria, Another 50 Natal Carbineer Years 1945 to 1995", Coghlan, M, Teeanem Printers, 2000, at p5-6
  24. ^ Dovey, John. "SA Roll of Honour Database". Just Done Productions Publishing. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  25. ^ A detailed, well-researched Roll of Honour of the 97 alumni and staff members of the school killed in specifically World War I is maintained by the school's Archives.
  26. ^ Rondganger, Lee (14 May 2012). "SA-born military pilot gets UK bravery award". Independent Online. Daily News. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  27. ^ Business Day article titled "JSC recommends judges for Supreme Court of Appeal", 9 April 2014

External linksEdit