Mr. J.H.A. Payne – 1905 – 1917


Mr Payne took over with 145 pupils on the roll. When he died twelve years later, there were almost 450 in the fine new building over the rise in Kensington, and the School had attained an enviable reputation in the classroom, in the cadet world and on the sportsfield.
In 1906, the Governing Body was established, the School Crest and Motto chosen, and in 1907 the Quondam Girls’ Club and the Old Boys’ Club were formed. The first issue of the School Magazine appeared.
Mr. J.H.A. Payne
Mr. J.H.A. Payne

Mr. Vines took charge of the sporting activities, and the triumphs of those early days are largely due to him. His facilities were hopeless. Games were played on “sandy hillock and arid wastes”, which were shared with “half a dozen other clubs”. Nevertheless, the cricket team of 1909 was the best the School had produced. Among the ten bowlers in the first team was Geoff Treadwell. Alf Cooper was destined to be the first of Jeppe’s Springboks. Woolridge’s batting average was 60.5,9 less than Cooper’s. At this time, Arthur Harold Childe joined the staff. For the next 34 years his name was to be synonymous with great cricket at Jeppe. Just before this arrival, however, the greatest match thus far had been won when the boys trounced their parents by having them all out for 9 (E. Davies scored 7).

Mr Payne devoted much of his energy towards securing a long promised new school building. In 1909, the Jeppe family donated a piece of ground which proved unsuitable. However, it was sold a year later and the present school site bought with the proceeds.
The building was designed to accommodate 300, but opened on its first day in January 1911, with 302. The old High School buildings were renovated, and handed over to the Jeppe High Preparatory Department under that remarkable great teacher, Miss Iddles. Fourteen years later, the Prep. received its permanent site (virtually the same piece of ground which had been rejected by the High School).
Jeppe High School - the new buildings, occupied in January 1911
Jeppe High School – the new buildings, occupied in January 1911

Mr Payne, Mr Vines and Miss Cummins quickly got to work to have playing field leveled, walls built and fences erected. Soon there were two tennis courts, and three nets for cricket and the football ground was taking shape. Three outside grounds were also being used as it was clear that the new site was too small.

Despite these difficulties, the School maintained its sporting prowess. The cricket team was acknowledged to be the best in the Transvaal, the football teams headed their leagues and the girls’ swimming club and hockey teams kept up a high standard. The greatest triumph was in shooting when Sgt Becker of the Cadets shot possibles at 200, 500 and 600 yards – a world record rarely equaled since. In 1936 he represented South Africa.
1912 was not a good year on the sports field. The Belgravia waste land where cricket matches had been played was no longer available. The Cricket Union could no longer afford the services of A.J. Atfield, the coach. Mr Payne hinted at having school on Saturdays to raise the standard of English – turned down to the relief of every pupil!
It was becoming clear that the school premises were inadequate. Pressure was exerted for the separation of the boys and the girls by the creation of a new girls’ school. Mr Payne was greatly convinced of this necessity. In 1913, 100 applicants had to be refused admission to the School. The only boarding house, Oribi, which had been completed in 1912, was so full that Mr Payne had some boarders in his own quarters.
The sporting doldrums of 1912 were over in the following year. In cricket the era of Melvill and Whytcock began. Each made over 900 runs that season. “Cuckoo” Melvill had been a member of the Cricket XI form the age of 12, and of the Football XI from the age of 13. In one cricket match, he took 10 wickets. The war claimed him in 1917.
In August 1914, with the outbreak of the Great War, six members of the staff joined up. Mr Reeve left to take over Krugersdorp High School. In 1915, the Headmaster, Mr Payne, joined up. By now Oribi and a second boarding house, Mpiti, were overflowing. A third boarding house, Tsessebe, was acquired when Mr Payne persuaded the Department to purchase “Friedenheim”. The gracious home of Sir Julius Jeppe and later of Sir Abe Bailey. Six more teachers, including Mr Manduell, who was acting Headmaster, left to join the forces. Mr Vines took over as acting Headmaster for the next difficult four years. Remaining master and the senior boys were involved in Civic Guard duties.
"Cuckoo" Melvill
“Cuckoo” Melvill

In 1917, J.H.A. Payne died of fever on service in East Africa. Tributes were paid to him by the great of the land; ordinary men mourned the passing of a great friend. In the same year, nine Old Boys were killed, including “Cuckoo” Melvill. Mr Manduell was awarded the Military Cross, and the Croix de Guerre. Old boy “Baba” Kinkead won the D.S.O. and the Bar, D.S.C and Royal Flying Cross.

Three hundred Old Boys and nine masters had been on active service. Twenty-three had been decorated. Thirty-three did not return.