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Remembering My First School: The Stanes High School

A senior Air warrior and a PG in management and law is well qualified to write on contemporary Legal matters



One of the top schools in India that traces its Heritage to the days of the British Raj is the Stanes High School at Coimbatore. The school is now in its 158th year of existence. I had been a student at this school about a couple of decades back. It was my first school. My father who was in the Air Force was posted to Coimbatore at the Air Force Administrative College and he got me enrolled in the school.

The Stanes High school was the brainchild of Sir Robert Stanes a coffee planter who had his plantations of coffee in the Nilgiris. In those days Robert Stanes used to take his coffee seeds for processing to Kerala. But once he happened to visit Coimbatore, he liked the place immensely as it had a salubrious climate that reminded him of Manchester.

Sir Stanes also had a religious streak coupled with a philanthropic bent of mind. This brought out his desire to set up a school at Coimbatore for children of Europeans in India. Thus he conceived the idea of this school, which was named the Stanes European High School. The school saw a new shape in 1862, making it one of the oldest schools in India. It is older than the Daly College and Doon School.

The school was set up with help from the church. But by the turn of the twentieth century, the school opened its doors to all categories and classes of people. The name European was dropped and the school renamed 'Stanes High School'. However in keeping with the wishes of Sir Stanes the school even now carries on with reservations for the minority Anglo Indian community. Though, now when India is into the 21st century, the reservations for the Anglo Indian community are only symbolic, as hardly any Anglo Indians are left, most having migrated to Australia.

The Stanes family

The Stanes family has an association of more than 150 years with India. In1864, at the age of 23, Robert Stanes was made the Coimbatore Municipal Council's first Chairman. He married Harriet Huntingdon Harris in Bristol in 1870 and the couple returned to India the same year. Robert and Harriet had eight children between 1871 and 1884.

The name of Robert Stanes endures among all the Stanes for promoting causes like education and other charities. The Government of India awarded him the Kaiser-I-Hind gold medal in 1914. He was knighted in 1920. He lived up to the age of 95, passing away in September 1936 in Coonoor. His funeral service at All Saints Church was well-attended and the majority of the persons attending were Indians, at a time when there was an anti-British feeling all over the country.

Stanes in 1900

Stanes in 1900

The school today

The Stanes High School celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2012. This was a rare achievement, as hardly any school in India is that old. Presently the school has over 3000 students and the medium of instruction is English. The standards are fairly high and eminent men from the field of Sports and other fields are invited to interact with the students. During my student days the famed Indian batsman Polly Umrigar had visited the school and played with the boys. It was a tremendous inspiration. When I was a student there my English and history teacher was an English lady and if I can recollect her name, it was Mrs. Thorpe. She migrated to Australia after she retired from school. The principal of the school at that time was Mr. Fowler who along with his wife served in India for his entire life. It is difficult to forget such people who, though, English gave their entire life to the development of what India is today. I remember Mr. Fowler taking us boys for a trek through the dense forests of Siruvani and TopslIp.

When we look at the school now, we must all spare a thought for Robert Stanes who had the vision to set up this school. Sir Robert Stanes breathed his last in 1936. But he left behind a splendid monument of all the good that the Raj brought with it.

The Stanes Hugh School has developed a lot since those old days. A modern science lab and an indoor stadium have been added. The school which follows the Central Board of Education prepares the students for the Higher Secondary examination. The school is a co-educational school and girls are given equal opportunities.

In 1947, the Staness family left India and sold the school to an Indian planter Alwarkurichi. He and his family have been running the school and keeping the name of the founder alive. I picked up cricket at the school and I have fond memories of my teachers and the school itself.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 23, 2021:

Denise, a big thank you to you for commenting on this hub.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on February 23, 2021:

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This is a lovely tribute to a school and its founder. I'm happy for you to have such fond memories of this school. That doesn't always happen, you know.



MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 23, 2021:

Chitra, sweet of you to have commented.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 22, 2021:

Interesting article about your first high school. The firsts are always special. I am reminded of mine. Thank you for sharing the details.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 22, 2021:

Thank you, Sp Greaney, your comment was most welcome.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on February 22, 2021:

This is such a lovely article reflecting back on your school years. It's great that you have fond memories of your time there and that there were teachers who left a good impression on you.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 21, 2021:

Thanks, Vanita.

Vanita Thakkar on February 21, 2021:

Interesting and informative article.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 21, 2021:

Tom, nice comment. I love Coimbatore, what a lovely climate. I have landed so many times at Sulur, which is a BRD and base. I completed my JCC course at AFAC, Red Fields. The school is I suppose one of the best in India and it's my honor to have studied there.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 21, 2021:

Pamela, thanks for sparing time and commenting.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on February 21, 2021:

Thank you, Liz, your comment is welcome.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 21, 2021:

This is a very interesting article about the historic high school you attended, MG. The long history of this high school is wonderful. It sounds like attending this high school is a honor.Your article is very well-written.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 21, 2021:

This is a well-written and interesting article. It's good to see that this school has made a positive impact for you and many other past and present students

tom on February 21, 2021:

british contribution to education forgotten.coimbature manchester of south india,near kerala border,riaf sulur ww2 station

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