St Michael’s College 1890 – 1897


St Michael’s College

The birthplace of Jeppe High School was at the corner of Crown and Commissioner Streets, Fairview.  (The original buildings are gone; in their place is the Fairview Junior School).

Jeppe, as a Government School, opened after the South African War but it opened with many of the same pupils and in the same buildings of the Jeppestown Grammar School which had functioned before the war.  This Grammar School had, in turn, sprung from St Michael’s College which was established in 1890.

Johannesburg was four years old when St Michael’s College was founded in 1890 by the Church of England in close association with the Parish of St Mary-the-Less in Park Street, Jeppe.

The first headmaster was the Reverend Henry Bindley Sidwell, Rector of St Mary-the-Less.  A year later Reverend George Perry succeeded him and held the reins at the College from 1891 – 1895.

St Michael’s College seems to have struggled for its existence.  In 1896 there were 45 boys enrolled, whose ages ranged from under seven to over thirteen – and they wore mortar boards!  The College was only saved from extinction as a school when the buildings were purchased in 1896 by the Witwatersrand Council of Education.  This was a body formed by the Uitlanders of the Witwatersrand Goldfields to secure for their children which the South African Republic was failing to provide.

Reverend Perry had returned from long leave in 1896, but he appears to have handed over the charge of the College to a Mr J. Rossouw, who is referred to in one Directory as “Resident Teacher and Secretary”, and in another as “Headmaster”.

Between 11 September 1896 and 10 November 1896, the Syndic (the Executive Committee of the Council of Education) had bought the buildings of St Michael’s College from a Mr Steytler, after he had ejected the tenants, for £1 500.  This was the ignominious end of St Michael’s College.


St Michael’s College, 1890 – 1891  (The Whole School)