The Legacy of the Men who Shaped Cottons

st-pettigrewThe first five years of the School was a turbulent period as the School saw Principals of different temperaments and calibre. But the vision proved stronger than all of the teething troubles. With the arrival of Rev. Dr. G. U. Pope, a distinguished Tamil scholar and missionary, the School witnessed steady growth. It was under his stewardship that the school acquired its present site at St. Mark’s Road in the heart of Bangalore.

The period from 1896 to 1906 was one of crisis and the school struggled to survive. However, under Rev. Pakenham Walsh, of the Brotherhood of St. Peter, the school turned the corner and began to see an improvement in enrollment.

Rev. Pakenham-Walsh’s successor, Canon Elphick, presided over an era of stability and consolidation at Cottons from 1930 to 1955. Steadily, the school began to regain its former glory, and was never to lose it again.

canon-elphickIn 1956, Rev. Loworth Lewis Thomas took charge of Bishop Cotton Boys’ School as its Warden, succeeding the illustrious Canon Elphick. He administered the school all the way up to June 1970. Unfortunately, six months after his arrival in India, he was stricken with polio, which left his legs paralyzed for the rest of his life. Though crippled, he was not crushed. Among the first tasks undertaken by the new Warden was the opening of a new Junior Library. The Senior Library too continued to grow. Rev. Thomas was one in whom discipline was tempered with human consideration. He was more a counselor and comforter than some figure on a pedestal. It was he who introduced Kannada as a subject. He formed the fourth House – namely Elphick House – and set the Old Cottonian Association on its independent course. A grand centenary celebration was held in 1965 under his leadership. The Science Block was also constructed during the centenary year of the School.

The year 1970 brought several momentous changes in the life of the School, the most important being a change in the Wardenship. Rev. Thomas, who guided the destiny of the school as its Warden since 1956, left in May 1970 for England. Mr. A. T. Balraj became the first Indian Principal and Warden of Bishop Cotton Boys’ School and Junior College, following the retirement of Rev. Thomas. 1970 saw the birth of a Junior College with a modest intake of 70 boys and 14 girls. The renovation of the old Science Laboratory into a Library was completed, and special facilities for reading, recreation and play were provided. In 1971, two fine tennis courts were set up near the Science Block. The years of planning to develop valuable real estate to supplement income for the School finally bore fruit when The present Cotton Complex adjacent to Bangalore Club was completed. Dr. Francis Samuel took over as Principal in September 1985. A period of expansion and academic excellence soon followed. A Kindergarten section named after Rev. Thomas was started in 1986. The nation’s President, R. Venkataraman, was the Chief Guest on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the School. The services of Dr. Francis Samuel were recognized by the Government of Karnataka with a State award presented on Rajyotsava Day in 1992 – a fitting tribute to an illustrious career.

gu-popeDr. Francis Samuel took over as Principal in September 1985. Consolidation continued. A period of expansion and academic excellence took firm root. A Kindergarten section named after Rev. Thomas was started in 1986. The then President of India, His Excellency Shri. R. Venkataraman, was the Chief Guest on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the School. The School had arrived. The services of Dr. Francis Samuel were recognized by the Government of Karnataka with a State award presented on Rajyotsava Day in 1992 – a fitting tribute to an illustrious career.

Dr. A Ebenezer was the visionary who held the reins of the institution for a span of thirteen years, from 1993 to 2006, during which he dramatically improved the infrastructure of the school. He oversaw the construction of several important new buildings. Chief among these are the Bishop George Edward Lynch Cotton Auditorium, Ainley Centre of Learning, Pettigrew Resource Centre, Elphick Research Centre and the G U Pope Academy. The idea of the futuristic Sports Complex was initiated by him.

lowert-thomas Colonel John Ellis took over after Dr. Ebenezer retired and he guided the institution to newer heights. Under his able leadership the school saw many changes and revival of certain old practices which were found to be still relevant and valuable. In 2010, the baton of leadership was passed on to Professor John K Zachariah. Under his leadership the school has entered a new era of innovation and consolidation

Building on the vision

Every Principal of Cottons has built on the vision of the Founder Pettigrew and has done his share to add value to the school. Each has also left his mark in the shape of the physical buildings and facilities added to the existing infrastructure during his time.

….And the story goes on, for education is a story that never ends.