Pretoria Boys High School

Pretoria Boys High School (colloquially known as "Boys High") is a public, tuition-charging, English-medium high school for boys situated in the suburb of Brooklyn in Pretoria in the Gauteng province of South Africa, founded in 1901 by Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner.

Pretoria Boys High School
Badge of Pretoria Boys High School
251 Roper Street, Brooklyn


South Africa
Coordinates25°45′38″S 28°13′26″E / 25.76056°S 28.22389°E / -25.76056; 28.22389
School typeAll-boys public school
MottoLatin: Virtute et Labore
("Virtute et Labore”)
Established3 June 1901; 123 years ago (1901-06-03)
FounderAlfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner
Sister schoolPretoria High School for Girls
HeadmasterGreg Hassenkamp
Second masterCraig McBride
Staff100 full-time
GradesForms I-V
(grades 812)
Age13 to 18
Number of students1,500
Schedule 07:40 - 14:15
Hours in school day6 h 35 min
CampusMain Campus
Pollock Campus
Campus typeUrban
HousesBoarding houses:
  Rissik House
  Solomon House
  School house
Dayboy houses:
  Abernethy House
  Arcadia House
  Armstrong House
  Hofmeyr House
  Matheson House
  Sunnyside House
  Town House
Colour(s)  Red
SloganThe white and red live forever
Song'Tis Here We Learn To Live'
NicknameBoys High
Team nameRugby 1st XV - “Candies”, Hockey 1st XI - ”Red Socks”, Water Polo 1st VII - ”Chipmunks” , Soccer 1st XI - ”Stripes”, Cricket 1st XI - ”White Caps”, Basketball 1st V - “Timbers”
Accreditation Gauteng Department of Education
NewspaperThe Phobian
The Boys Highlights
YearbookThe Pretorian
School feesR88,000 (boarding)
R63,800 (tuiton)
Feeder schools
  • Brooklyn Primary School
  • Glenstantia Primary School
  • Hamilton Primary School
  • La Montagne Primary School
  • St Paulus Primary School
  • Waterkloof House Preparatory School
  • Waterkloof Primary School
  • Irene Primary School
  • Curro Primary School

Main school building (1909).

The school enrols over 1,500 pupils, including 300 boarders, from South Africa and beyond, managed by about 100 full-time staff.

Though the school itself was founded in 1901, its neoclassical red-brick style main school buildings date from 1909, maintaining provincial heritage site status. A new media centre, library and music centre was completed in 2016. The 40-hectare school grounds also include a second campus, 'Pollock Campus', as well as sporting and recreational facilities. Three boarding houses are located on the school grounds: Rissik House and Solomon House are part of the original school complex completed in 1909, while School House was built later in 1920.

Its sister school is Pretoria High School for Girls, founded in 1902.


A caricature of Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner (1854–1925), founder of the Pretoria Boys High School (Vanity Fair, 1897).

The antecedent of the current school is the historic Staats Model School, built 1896-1897[1][2] by the government of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (later Transvaal) in central Pretoria. Alfred Fernández Harington was appointed English master on 1 October 1895. The school was not in operation for very long owing to the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899. At the time, the building served as a prison, where notably Winston Churchill was briefly imprisoned.[3]

The school was part of the whites-only education system, until the abolition of apartheid.

Pretoria High School (1901–1903)


With Pretoria under British control, it became apparent to Lord Milner, the Colonial Secretary at the time, that the educational facilities in the city needed attention as there was no secondary school for English-speaking pupils. The Staats Model School was duly refurbished. It was renamed Pretoria High School and became the first of the so-called Milner schools in the Transvaal, opening on 3 June 1901 with Charles Hope - who also founded Potchefstroom Boys High - as headmaster. Initial enrolment was 32 pupils, both boys and girls, which increased to 132 by August of that year. Hope left 15 months later, along with the girls, who were finally accommodated into the old building of the former Transvaal Republic's Staatsmeischjeskool (State Girls' School), which was renamed Pretoria High School for Girls.[citation needed]

Pretoria College (1903–1909)


Under the new headmaster, Harold Atkinson, enrolment increased to 100 boys by 1903. The name of the school was also changed to Pretoria College. Atkinson left at the end of 1905 and was succeeded by J F Acheson who stayed with the school until it moved from Skinner Street to its current site in 1909. Formal devolution between primary and high school pupils only occurred in 1905.[citation needed]

The new buildings and bilingualism (1910-1920)


Milner's intention was to create a stable educational infrastructure in the new colony's capital and duly set aside 200 hectares (490 acres) of ground to the south-east of central Pretoria for the construction of new academic institutions. The southernmost 60 hectares (150 acres), which included the Waterkloof Kop (English: Waterkloof Hill), was chosen as the new site for Pretoria Boys High School. The architect, Patrick Eagle, met the challenge by designing an edifice rivalling its larger contemporary, Sir Herbert Baker's Union Buildings. Eagle chose to site the main buildings on the ridge of the hill giving the school its well-known dramatic setting.[citation needed]

The new school buildings were officially opened in 1909 by Jan Smuts, then colonial secretary of the Transvaal. The main building of the school, sited on Waterkloof Hill, is at present close to University of Pretoria, sitting opposite to the distant Union Buildings on Meintjieskop.

One year later, the four colonies of the Transvaal, Orange River Colony, Natal and the Cape formed the Union of South Africa. Keen to forge unity between English and Dutch (Afrikaner) South Africans, Smuts' influence was evident when, on 6 April 1910, the school absorbed 100 boys and staff from the Dutch-medium Eendracht High School to form a dual-medium high school. The combined school was now named Pretoria High School for Boys - Pretoria Hogere school voor Jongens. Smuts would later send his own sons to the school.[citation needed]

Devolution and re-establishment (1920)


The dual-medium institution would last ten years. By 1920, the divide between English and Afrikaans speakers had become apparent nationwide; this was reflected in the need for a separate Afrikaans high school in Pretoria. Consequently, the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool was formed immediately south of its parent, becoming the first Afrikaans-medium high school in the country, several years before Afrikaans attained official recognition as a language (and not a semi-creole of Dutch). The two schools enjoy close ties to this day, especially in rivalry in sporting events. PBHS would now be left in its present form, known as Pretoria Boys High School, an English-medium public school.[citation needed]

Headmasters since 1909

  • William Hofmeyr (1909–1935)
  • Daniel Matheson (1936–1949)
  • Noel Pollock (1950–1955)
  • Desmond Abernethy (1956–1973)
  • Malcolm Armstrong (1974–1989)
  • William E. Schroder (1990–2009)
  • Anthony Reeler (2010-June 2020)
  • Gregary Hassenkamp (July 2020-)


Coat of arms of the school, with motto: Latin: Virtute et Labore; English: "Through Courage and Labour".
Main school building of Pretoria Boys High School, dating from 1909.



According to Illsley,[4] each component of the badge has a special meaning relating to the history and spirit of the school. The shield component of the badge is divided into four quadrants, with the book representing learning, the tools the wealth of the Transvaal through gold mining, the tree growth and the ox wagon the Transvaal. The background colours of the four quadrants were the colours of the first four houses when given permanent names, i.e. Town red, Solomon gold, Sunnyside black and Rissik green.

The school songs


The official school song, Tis Here We Learn To Live, was written in the 1930s by two Old Boys. The composer of the music, George Findlay, was a prominent Pretoria dermatologist. However, the school later adopted Forty Years On, originally the school song of Harrow School in London. It is this song that is sung at all school valedictions. The official school song was relegated to obscurity until it was revived as the school's rugby anthem.

Culture and activities


Cultural activities


Cultural activities include a well-established musical tradition, as well as a plethora of clubs and societies. These include photography, fantasy and historical war games, aeronautical, film, wildlife, drama, debating, chess, public speaking, creative writing and science clubs. The school newspaper "Boys Highlights" is published and distributed each term.[citation needed]

The school's Music Centre is regarded as one of the best in the country.[by whom?] The following ensembles frequently perform at school functions and external events:

Athletics and leisure


Sporting facilities include soccer, rugby union, cricket, Olympic standard athletics grounds, tennis, squash and basketball courts, a gymnasium, hockey fields, two swimming pools including one for waterpolo, an AstroTurf and a rock-climbing wall. There is also a man-made pine forest, an old shooting range which has been converted for the purpose of archery, an amphitheatre and an artificial lake, Loch Armstrong. The grounds form a protected bird sanctuary and are home to several different species of birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles.



The sports that are played at the school are:[citation needed]

School buildings


The new school buildings were officially opened in 1909 by Jan Smuts, then colonial secretary of the Transvaal. The main building of the school, sited on Waterkloof Hill, is at present close to University of Pretoria, sitting opposite to the distant Union Buildings on Meintjieskop.



Pretoria Boys High School is made up of ten constituent houses, each with its own culture and identity. House assemblies are held weekly, and house prefects are appointed annually. Annual inter-house sports meetings take place in which every pupil is encouraged to participate. The inter-house swim meet (gala) is the most popular and well-attended of sport meetings.

Boarding houses

  • Solomon
  • Rissik
  • School

Day-boy houses

  • Abernethy
  • Arcadia
  • Armstrong
  • Hofmeyr
  • Matheson
  • Sunnyside
  • Town

The Old Boys Association


Pretoria Boys High School has a network of Old Boys, forming one of the largest alumni organisations in South Africa. Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys Association publishes an annual journal and review, The Phobian, which is distributed to Old Boys across the globe. Members of the association meet annually at the school for the annual dinner, and regular reunions of each matriculating group are organised 10, 20, 30 and 40 years on, echoing the refrain of the school song, Forty Years On.

Notable alumni

Max Theiler (1899–1972), 1951 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine laureate, for developing a vaccine against yellow fever
Michael Levitt (1947-), 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate
Damon Galgut (1963-), winner of the 2021 Booker Prize
Edwin Cameron (1953-), judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa
Elon Musk (1971-), business magnate and founder of SpaceX and a co-founder of Zip2, PayPal, Tesla, Neuralink and OpenAI.

The school has produced two Nobel Prize laureates, eighteen Rhodes scholars, eight Supreme Court judges, an archbishop,[clarification needed] two English Premier League football players, seven national cricketers and four Springbok rugby players[4]

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Staats Model School, C/o Nana Sita and Lilian Ngoyi Streets, Pretoria City Centre, Tshwane". Archived from the original on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Staatsmodel School". Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  3. ^ The Churchill Centre: "War". Archived from the original on 8 March 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
  4. ^ a b Illsley, John (2001). Pretoria Boys High: The Story of a South African School, 1901-2001. Pretoria Boys High School. ISBN 978-0-620-26617-8.
  5. ^ "Ombudsman: Judge Brian Galgut to replace Judge Peet Nienaber". 2007. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  6. ^ Bonorchis, Renée (20 September 2006). "Inspiring Research at the Dreaming Spires to Benefit the Poor". Business Day. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Profile: Peter Hain". BBC News. 24 June 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2008.
  8. ^ "Simon Harmer Profile". ESPNcricinfo. February 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Aiden Markram Profile". ESPNcricinfo. October 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Chris Morris Profile". ESPNcricinfo. September 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  11. ^ "Distinguished scientists elected as Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society". Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Elon Musk". Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  13. ^ Jacobs, Elize (23 September 2004). "Cape Times - High praise for 'phenomenal' Pistorius". The Cape Times. Archived from the original on 11 October 2004. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  14. ^ Phipps, Claire (18 April 2016). "Oscar Pistorius to be sentenced in June for murder of Reeva Steenkamp". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  15. ^ "SA Rugby Player Profile – Chiliboy Ralepelle". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  16. ^ "SA Rugby Player Profile – John Smit". South African Rugby Union. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  17. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1951: Max Theiler". March 2018.
  18. ^ "Tucker Vorster | Overview | ATP Tour | Tennis". September 2015.
  19. ^ "Duduzane Zuma". News24. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.