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Jeppestown Grammar School 1897 – 1899


Jeppestown Grammar School
The Council of Education spent £3 458.02 on alterations and equipment. The buildings consisted of “three classrooms, lavatories, two dormitories, cottage of seven rooms” and were situated in what was then called the township of Fawcustown.
The naming of this school is of some interest. The Council had been given some stands in Jeppe as a site for a proposed High School by the township company associated with the Jeppe family. Mr. Jeppe was approached for permission to sell these stands. He agreed “on condition that (his) family name be introduced in the title of the school at Fawcustown”. Thus it was resolved that the School should be called the Jeppestown Grammar School. It opened in April 1897 and soon had fifteen scholars.
One of the pioneer scholars was Mr. Justice Leslie Blackwell, who had this to say about the only Headmaster, Mr. J.H. Hardwick, B.A.(Cantab), previously Vice-Principal of Durban High School: “He had a task of appalling difficulty with a small and not-too-efficient staff and he had to endeavour to run a secondary school on English Grammar School lines for the English-speaking children and, apart from Marist Brothers College, this was the only boys’ secondary school in Johannesburg. But Mr. Hardwick was a man of outstanding personality and he tackled his task with a keenness and devotion which has remained a memory ever since to those pioneer children, many of whom still live in Johannesburg”.
The Grammar School prospered as can be inferred from this contemporary press advertisement: “Jeppestown Grammar School: a first-rate Public School for Boys, opened in April, 1897. Staff: Headmaster: Mr. J.H. Hardwick, B.A. Cambridge, (lately Second Master in the Durban High School). Resident Assistants: Mr. H.W. Keating; Mr. R. Day, (Dutch); Mr. Benninck Jansonius, (Science); Mr. John Daniell (Gymnasium); Mr. Prutt. The course of institution includes English, Mathematics, Latin, Dutch, French, Science (Chemistry, Physics, Metallurgy, etc.), Drawing, Book-keeping and Gymnastics. Especial attention is paid to Writing, Arithmetic, and Elementary subjects. The School has the use of a large field for cricket and football. The Headmaster receives a limited number of boarders. Fees: three guineas per quarter, all fees payable in advance. For further information, application should be made to the Headmaster …”
In 1898, the Council for Education was in serious financial difficulties. Mr. Hardwick and his staff were given notice. Towards the end of May 1898, a deputation of Jeppestown parents offered to take over the school. On 1 October 1898, the school changed hands for £2 500. Mr. Hardwick stayed on as Headmaster, and a Parents’ Committee, or Governing Body, was established under Mr. E. Hancock. Patrons of the School were F. Eckstein, Julius Jeppe and Abe Bailey.
By mid-1899, the exodus of woman and children from Johannesburg began. The School dwindled to almost nothing, and Mr. Hardwick himself left in September. The School carried on for a few more months under a Mr. Muller, and then finally closed for the duration of the Anglo-Boer War.