St. Nicholas Chapel
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ADISADEL COLLEGE: A HISTORICAL SKETCH

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The name given to the School at its inauguration was: The S.P.G. Grammar School. It was so named because it was to be managed and financed by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (S.P.G.), a Missionary body based in London. The Society had selected the Gold Coast as one of its fields of operation, and had sent the Right Reverend Nathaniel Temple Hamlyn as the first Bishop of the newly created Anglican Diocese of Accra in 1909.

Bishop Hamlyn's first preoccupation was to found the School, the Headmasters of which were, from 1910-1918, appointed by the S.P.G. The original School house at Topp Yard was put to maximum use. The ground floor of the house provided classrooms and a dining hall, while the fairly roomy upper floor served as a dormitory. This house was nicknamed "S.S. Sir George" so called after one of the old steam boats that plied the West African Coast and was said to have every space aboard crowded with cargo. Topp Yard was all in all to the boys, and they made very good use of their opportunities there.

In less than two years after its inception, the School tried out its strength at a Public Examination then conducted by the London College of Preceptors. All the candidates were successful, one of them gaining six distinctions, and thereby breaking the record of examinations of the College of Preceptors in the whole of West Africa. This was indeed a happy augury for the School.  By 1918 the School had become more than a local School for Cape Coast. Anglican parents from Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi also sent their sons and wards there to be educated.

In 1912, Bishop Hamlyn left the Gold Coast and his place was taken by Bishop Mowbray Stephen O'Rorke, in 1913. Soon after his arrival, Bishop O'Rorke discerned in one young lad at the School potentialities for leadership. The Bishop spared no effort to have the boy properly groomed for service to the Church and country.

The young boy, Stephen Richard Seaton Nicholas, was sent to the C.M.S. Grammar School at Freetown, Sierra Leone, and then went up to Fourah Bay College, where he graduated M.A. (Durham) and obtained the Diploma in Theology. He returned home in 1922 and joined the staff of the School.

St. Nicholas' Grammar School

At this time a change in the control of the School had taken place. The School passed to the list of Government Assisted Schools, that is, Government had accepted to make a yearly grant not exceeding forty percentage of the total of salaries of the staff. There was also then developing an awareness that the School should come under direct management, locally.

This resulted in a change of name to 'St. Nicholas' Grammar School' by the Right Reverend John Orfeur Aglionby, M.C., D.D., who had arrived in 1924 to succeed Bishop O'Rorke as the third Bishop of Accra. The Reverend William Hutton Mensah left the School in 1924 to become the parish priest of St. Cyprian's Church, Kumasi, and Bishop Aglionby appointed S.R.S. Nicholas as an obvious choice to the headmastership.

Canon C. H. Elliott (Left) & Dr. J. W. de Graft JohnsonNicholas brought with him to St. Nicholas' a reputation as an eminent classical scholar. He established great influence by his masterful personality and his melodious speaking voice. Full of youthful vigour, Nicholas threw himself with consummate skill into the work of reconstruction.

He divided the School into three Houses: Primus, Secundus, Tertius, appointed House Masters to enforce discipline, and introduced Inter-House competitions in games and sports. He also put the pupils into uniform for Church service on Sundays-black coat and white trousers, a straw hat, complete with a band displaying the School crest; a white shirt and collar and black and white tie and black socks and shoes. The weekday dress consisted of khaki shorts and shirt.

By the latter half of the twenties, the number of pupils had increased to the extent that it became necessary to rent two other nearby premises to house the School. The steady increase in numbers, resulting in vast sums spent on rents and repairs on the buildings, inevitably raised problems. Nicholas saw the necessity of moving the School into buildings of its own. He accordingly succeeded in making the initial contact with the Ebiradze Family of Cape Coast from whom the lovely hill on which Adisadel College now stands was later acquired.

As Headmaster, Nicholas certainly played his part well. He succeeded in raising the standard of scholastic achievement and attained discipline with a dignity, which every headmaster might have envied. In 1929, Bishop Aglionby embarked upon a reorganization of the School and invited the Reverend Alan John Knight, M.A., LL.B. (Cantab) to become the Headmaster, and Nicholas was made the Second Master, the name then given to the Assistant Headmaster. Nicholas’ loyalty to Knight during this period was indeed commendable.

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Rev. John O. Aglionby
3rd. Bishop of Accra

 

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