Barnes School History

This short historical sketch explains much of the present Barnes. It is still primarily a place where the poor Anglo-Indian children of the Anglican and Protestant Churches can be given a good upbringing and sound education. It is still a Church School where Christian ideals are practised and imparted. It is a boarding school, the largest in Western India. It has a long, proud record of service to the community going back 250 years. The memory of founders and benefactors is preserved in the names of the buildings: Barnes, Candy, Spence, Haig-Brown, Lloyd. Other names are remembered. Greaves House is named after Sir John Greaves, prominent Bombay business man of the firm of Greaves, Cotton, Director of the Bombay Education Society from 1930 and Chairman of its Managing Committee from 1939 to 1949. Royal House commemorates Harry Royal, an old boy of the B. E. S. School from the years around 1900 to 1910 who became an important officer of the Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Honorary Treasurer of the B.E.S. for many years. Other old students may be honoured in a similar way in time to come.

One name, perhaps the greatest of them all, the Rev. Thomas Evans, needs special mention. After being Headmaster at the old schools at Byculla since 1910, he became the first Headmaster of Barnes, without whom it would probably not have survived its early years. His portrait hangs in Evans Hall which was named in memory of him when he retired in 1934. He moved to Devlali in 1925. Architects planned, committees discussed, contractors built, but one man, a resolute, little man, apparently tireless, really brought Barnes into being. He controlled, checked, yes, and at times drove his staff, the children, the servants, workmen and the Managing Committee till all was complete.

Barnes in 1926. The buildings were the same as now, perhaps the only difference being that they looked new, raw and bare. There were no gardens. The few trees were small and far apart. There were two separate and distinct schools, one for boys and one for girls, and none was allowed to forget that. A boy who looked at a girl was in danger of severe punishment. There were separate classes. In Class IX, the top class (equivalent to Class XI today), there were four boys sitting for the Senior Cambridge and two girls. Numbers in other classes, especially the girls, were small. There were about 250 boarders in all and only a dozen day scholars. No Indian languages were taught. The boys learnt Latin and the girls French. Not much in the way of Science was taught and there was no division into Arts and Science in the top classes. Besides the Senior Cambridge in Class IX, there was the Junior Cambridge in Class VIII and the Prelim in Class VI. All the boarders were Anglo-Indians or Europeans. Among the day scholars, perhaps there were half a dozen Indian children.