Brief History

  • Last update on 10 May 2019
    Brief History of Thurstan College

    Thurstan College was founded on January 11th, 1950 and was opened by the then Minister of Education Mr E A Nugawala. When it's first Principal Mr Douglas Earle Allen Schokman addressed the assembly, where 53 students were present. However they were not students of Thurstan, but Government Senior School. Government Senior School was formed to accommodate the overflow of students from Royal Primary who could not gain admission to Royal College in the period 1947 to 1949. These 112 students were accommodated in Form 1 [year 6], Form 11 [year 7], Form 111 [year 8], together with 53 students New Entrance to Lower Kindergarten [year 1]. These constitute the first batch of students at Government Senior School. Prasanna Abeyratna, ex-treasurer of the OBU has the unique honour of becoming its first student.

    Thurstan College has grown on rich educational soil in the Colombo’s prestigious educational triangle. The college was named as THURSTAN on March 26th, 1953 on the occasion of the first Prize-Giving which was presided by the Deputy Director of Education Mr T D Jayasuriya as it abuts Thurstan Road. The name remembers the pioneer Englishman & Anglican Missionary Rev A J Thurstan who established a Private Industrial School in this site in 1859 which he maintained out of his own funds which provided both Agricultural & Craft training. After some years, the school was closed down and the British Government opened an Agricultural School in 1884 to develop the Cinnamon Industry, as Cinnamon was grown extensively in this area and even today Colombo 7 is known as Cinnamon Gardens. This school which was started by the then Director of Education Mr H W Green too was closed down in 1910.

    The Government then commenced a small school for the children of the area. When Royal College was moved to Reid Avenue in 1923 to accommodate the newly established University College, the Primary section of Royal too departed and in the vacant premises the Government started the Teacher Training College with hostel facilities for both males & females. Denham hostel was a well known landmark until the late 80’s in the premises. In 1949 the Teacher Training College was shifted to Maharagama to accommodate the bigger intake of teachers and with it went the Practicing school which catered for the students in the periphery.

    Thus the Government Senior School was founded in 1950 in the premises vacated by the Training College. The picturesque Government Senior School with its land mark “Nuga “tree flanked by the University College & Royal College in the famous educational triangle of Thurstan Road, Reid Avenue & Racecourse Avenue. It was once again made to a hive of educational activity to provide primary & secondary education to Sinhala, Tamil and English medium.

  • Last update on 10 May 2019

    Mr M D Gunawardane assumed duties in January 1956. He was a genial gentleman, but a stern disciplinarian. He was much liked the students and parents. He was able to rally the parents and reactivate the Parent Teachers Association [PTA] which was instrumental in building the first Shrine room [now demolished]. During his era, in July 1958, a two storied Science block, the new Hall & the Office complex was opened. It was during Mr Gunewardena’s era that Thurstan commenced Tennis and Neville Senaratne was a national Tennis Champion and lateraly appointed as National Coach. Thurstan also earned a name for Table Tennis during this period and emerged runners up in the Public Schools Tournament, Ayal Jayathileke a member of this team went on to earn a Cambridge Blue the first ever by a Sri Lankan.

    Mr. Gunewardenae reorganized the administration in different fields stressing on the need for academic development. In 1958 students commenced entering the Universities. The first two to enter was Nihal Gunawardane [Engineering] & Shunith Goonatelleke [Arts]. In the field of drama, Dayananda Gunawardane who was a teacher produced the famous “Nari Bena “play which late became a stage play of much acclaimed. Another drama which won the imagination of many was the English play produced by the Western Music teacher Mr Weerasinghe - “Aladdin and the wonderful lamp ".

    Rugby practices commenced in 1957 and in 1958 Surath Wickramasinghe became the first College Captain. Geoff Ratnam who was a member of this team rounded up a fine club career and had the distinction of captaining Ceylon and latterly being appointed national coach. The 1st XI cricketers were given the opportunity of playing with their counter parts of other leading schools both in Colombo & Outstations.

    In this era Sports bloomed at Thurstan. Boxes excelled at Stubb shield meets, Athletes were winners at Group & Public School meets, the Table Tennis paddlers were a force to reckon with at Inter - school championships. Cadets won the Herman Loos shield and two Thurstanites, Harris Perera & Lalith Pieris captained the National School Cricket Association teams to Australia in 1962 & 1964 respectively. A contributory reason for such success was the active involvement of the teachers who were not only Masters-in-Charge but also were the coaches. In 1957 the Primary classes were done away with, while classes from Form 1 [year 6] to University Entrance [year 13] prevailed. In 1958 with the onset of the communal disturbances, the multi-ethnic character of Thurstan was lost with the Tamil stream transferred to Isipathana.

    In 1960's many Thurstanites were emerging from the Universities as doctors, engineers, & graduates from other disciplines. The Teachers Guild was an active body, which brought much bonhomie among the teachers & their families Mr Gunawardane has been a keen Tennis player and two courts were constructed and he used to play regularly with his pupils & fellow staff members. It was during Gunewardena era that Thurstan commenced Tennis and Neville Senaratne was a national Tennis Champion and lately appointed as National Coach. Thurstan also earned a name for Table Tennis during this period and emerged runners up in the Public Schools Tournament, Prof.Ayal Jayatileke a member of this team went on to earn a Cambridge Blue the first ever by a Sri Lankan. Despite not having a Swimming pool of their own Gavin Amarasighe emerged as a leading public schools swimmer by winning the much sought after annual two mile swim for two consecutive years.

    To the later part of his era, the famous Musician Pandit Visharada Mr Lionel Algama who was the Music teacher in school at that time compiled the College song. About this time the medium of instruction in the advance level classes too were changed to Sinhala.

    Mr Gunawardane's era as the 2nd Principal of the school ended in January 1967. This could be called the period where Thurstan gained stability.

  • Last update on 10 May 2019
    Brief History of Thurstan College

    The first Principal Mr Earle Schokman was an Old Kingswoodian, who had taught at Trinity and worked with dedication to improve the newly established school. It had all the trappings which a Public School Education Institution of the time needed. A House system. Prefect system, Literary and other Cultural Societies, Sports, Cadeting and Scouts troops were formed.

    No apter names could have been chosen for the Houses; Denham, Macrae, Robison, Sandeman, all past Directors of Education during the Colonial period who made great contribution to the development of education in Ceylon.

    The college colours were Blue, Gold & Red, the reverse of the Trinity colours, may be for Mr Schokman to remember his days at Trinity. The motto resounds exhorting all it's sons to move from “darkness to light ". On Saturday February 9th, 1952 the first ever Inter - House Athletic meet was held under the patronage of Dr H W Howes, CMG, Director of Education. The teacher in charge of sports was Mr Kingsley Fernando and Robison House emerged as the first Inter-house champions.

    In 1953 college commenced playing 1st Eleven cricket with many under 16 ners and they played against the 2nd Eleven teams of the bigger schools. In this period the Lower Kindergarten and Primary classes were gradually abolished to set up a collegiate school preparing students for SSC & HSC examinations.

    The famous Rationalist Abraham Kavoor joined the school in this era to teach Biology. After his death according his wishes his anatomical skeleton was handed over to the Biology laboratory at Thurstan. After laying a solid foundation Mr Schokman retired in 1955.