The Legacy of the Men who Shaped Cottons
The 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 saw a steady growth. It was under his stewardship that the school acquired its present site at St. Mark's Road in the heart of the fastest growing city in Asia , Bangalore. A collegiate section, which is now defunct, was started and the School obtained recognition from the prestigious University of Madras. In those days, the Boys' School and the Girls' School functioned in the same campus but under different administrative heads. When Rev. Dr. G. U. Pope had to leave India in the year 1892 to take up the post of Reader at Oxford University, the standard of the School began to decline. So much so that in 1906, even closure of the School was contemplated.
As a last resort, Rev. Whitehead, Bishop of Madras (the Chairman of the Board of Governors), invited Rev. H. Pakenham Walsh of the Brotherhood of St. Peter to take charge of the school. Rev. H. Pakenham Walsh was to later become the Bishop of Assam, and took the initiative to revive the School. His determination paid off and there was an increase in pupil attendance and several buildings were constructed. In 1911, the Girls' School was moved across the road and was to gain such a reputation for itself that, as in the Boys' section, Non-Resident Indians would send their children from across the seas to imbibe their Indian roots while gaining a solid education.
Rev. Pakenham-Walsh's successor, Canon Elphick, ushered in the 'Golden Era' of Cottons from 1930 to 1955. Steadily, the school began to regain its former glory, and was never to lose it again.
In 1956, Rev. Loworth Lewis Thomas took charge of Bishop Cotton Boys' School as its Warden, succeeding the illustrious Canon Elphick, a post he held till June 1970. Unfortunately, six months after his arrival in India, he was stricken with polio, which left his legs paralysed 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 counsellor 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, special facilities for reading, recreation and play were provided. In 1971, two fine tennis courts were made near the Science Block. The years of planning to develop a valuable property to supplement income for the School finally crystallised. The present Cotton Complex adjacent to Bangalore Club is the outcome of such planning. Mr. Balraj steered the School's life and activities for 14 long years as Principal.
Dr. 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 recognised 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 reigns of our institution for a span of thirteen years, from 1993 to 2006, in which time he dramatically improved the infrastructure of the school. This was accomplished by the exodus of buildings he raised, chief among these being the Bishop George Edward Lynch Cotton Auditorium, Ainley Centre of Learning, Pettigrew Resource Centre, Elphick Research Centre and the G U Pope Academy to name a few. The idea of the futuristic Sports Complex was initiated by him. To give the students a break from academics he hosted many carnivals, cultural and food festivals, music concerts but the chief event of the year used to be the Christmas programme in which the whole school participated with great zeal and interest, one of which was even recorded in the “Limca Book of World Records” as the school event with the biggest audience ever. On the sports front he started the “Ebenezer Challenge Cup” in which under-12 cricketers get a chance to win the cup for their school. It was through his guidance that the school was nominated the best in the Bangalore by the ‘Outlook’ magazine and we were awarded the ‘Computer Literacy Award’ by the His Excellency Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam.
After the retirement of Dr.Ebenezer Colonel John Ellis took over the responsibility of guiding the institution to newer heights. Under his able leadership the school saw many changes and revival of old practices. The baton of leadership was passed on to Professor John K Zachariah a dynamic principal in 2010 who presently is leading the institution. Under his leadership the school has seen the advent of numerous school activities and had embarked on a journey into unexplored frontiers. The school has hosted a plethora of events of national as well as international standing. The school is now on a move towards attaining a standing on the international ranks and is flourishing under his leadership.
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.