‘A public meeting, which had been held in 1883 with the intention of stimulating local interest in a proposed building fund for the school brought in over £1000 … With this money, additional classrooms were built and plans were drawn’ (Poland, 2008:72).
This quote portrays a thread that is woven throughout the history of St Andrew’s - that of benefactors responding to appeals to make real the vision of men inspired by excellence in education: men who believed that St Andrew’s College was one of the finest schools in the country.
So, from very small beginnings, the teaching facilities at the school grew to meet the increasing demands of better education. The first science laboratory was built in 1885 after an impassioned plea: ‘…the necessity is so pressing that I consider College is likely to lose its standing as a leading educational institution …’ (Poland, 2008:72). The laboratory was extended in 1896 while the first reference library was established in 1890.
The construction of formal, purpose-built classroom buildings was a 20th century development. The Kettlewell block, Jooste, Cory, the Spencer Chapman block and Norton were constructed between 1920 and 1962 with funds from sources such as the Rhodes Trust, a grant from African Explosives and from industrial donors. At the time of construction, state-of-the art educational facilities were introduced, ensuring that College retained its reputation of excellence. However, to date, very little has changed in these teaching spaces.
In the opening of the Arthur Cotton Design and Technology Centre in 1993, the thread weaving through the history of College is clearly to be seen. Arthur Cotton’s vision was to prepare College boys for a world driven by micro-electronics and computers. In this he was ahead of his time and through his efforts, College was the first school in South Africa to be linked to the Internet. Also a first in the country was the Design and Technology Centre, aptly named after him, which revolutionised traditional teaching methods, allowing for imaginative education (Poland, 2008: 361).
St Andrew’s Preparatory School was established when Robert George Mullins purchased sufficient land in 1904 in order to construct the first Prep School House on the corner of Leicester and Cradock roads. Since its founding, the school has also shown steady development of its facilities to meet the growing demand of an excellent education for the younger boys. Robert House, housing both the boarding facilities and the classrooms was built in four stages between 1905 and 1916. Teaching space and boarding facilities were extended when in 1918, Fairlawn was purchased from the Greathead family.
Over the years, Prep has built the Art and Craft Centre (developed from the Drill Shed in 1971), Memory Hall (1953), Griffin in the 1960s, the Mullins Auditorium (1979) and the Anthony Parnell Music Centre, inaugurated in 1986. It was recognised that even young boys needed to be technologically literate so the science laboratory, which had been developed in 1969, was converted into the computer laboratory in 1989 and the classrooms were fully renovated in 1994.