ACS Ipoh – A brief history
In response to a request herewith our version of the history of ACS Ipoh. If you believe we have made any mistakes please let us know.
“The Anglo-Chinese Boys School Ipoh was the first English school, as well as the first Christian mission school, in Kinta. It was established by the Methodist Episcopal Mission in 1895, ten years after the founding of the Methodist Mission in Singapore. The first attempt to found the school in Ipoh was in November 1894 when Rev TW Stagg was sent by the Methodist Episcopal Mission in Singapore to Ipoh to make the appropriate arrangements. The school was to be opened on the 1st day of 1895 and pupils were to be charged $3 per month. The fee was not affordable for the local people and the school closed down in June that year.
The task of re-starting and, in reality, founding the school was then given to the Reverend W.E. Horley, a young Englishman who had arrived in Ipoh on 31st July 1895. He played an influential role in the educational and spiritual development of the youth in this country.
Just 5 days after his arrival, on 5th August 1895, Rev. Horley opened the Anglo-Chinese School in a small attap-roofed Malay house rented from Datoh Panglima Kinta in Ipoh at Changkat. The land was adjoining the Police barracks, just behind the first Land Office. This was later demolished to provide space for a new mosque. It was Mr. W. Cowan, who came from Taiping, to take over the duties of Chinese Protectorate from Mr. Barnes, who encouraged Horley to go ahead with the plan. Hence, the lower part of the Datoh’s house was enclosed to become the schoolroom.
It is said that Sir George Maxwell, who in one of his letters described the new school house as being “painted a rich blue with yellow shutters” and legend has it that this is reason why blue and gold were chosen as the School`s colours in the 1920s.
Initially, four boys turned up- two Malays and two Chinese; one of them was Che Wan, who became Datoh Panglima Kinta. Another of the first students, Khong Tak Nam, became one of the first two students to pass the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1902, and went to England to study medicine at St. John’s College, Cambridge.
Very quickly the enrolment increased to 60 boys and in 1895, Horley’s application of a four acres land for school and church purposes, was granted by Kinta District Officer, Mr. R.D. Hewett. The land was situated at Lahat Road. Money was donated by the local European, Chinese and Tamil communities, to support the construction of the school.
The first building of the Anglo-Chinese School, a double-storey timber structure with a central tower, was completed at Lahat Road, in May 1896, it was known as Horley Hall. It remains standing today (2007) and houses the school museum. This, the oldest Methodist building in Peninsula Malaysia, doubled as a school from Mondays to Fridays and a church on Sundays. The school numbers increased rapidly, with another timber building being erected in 1898, which became the Primary school.
As the school’s enrolment grew to 200, facilities were erected for boarders. The first batch of boarders moved in in 1901. In the same year the first Cambridge Class was started by Mr. S.H. Wood. 2 years later, towkays Foo Choo Choon and Loke Yew donated the Commercial School (now used as classrooms) to the school. Incidentally a large part of the expansion and upgrades to the school were funded through the generosity of Ipoh’s local wealthy tin miners while the government only contributed a token sum.
The number of students continued to increase and by the time there were 250, 60 coming from Batu Gajah by train. Other buildings followed in 1904, 1914 and 1918.
The main building, a landmark, Edwardian-style, building, standing parallel to Lahat Road, with its prominent quoining, was erected and opened in 1914. It cost a total of $93 000 and was designed by Mr. C.H. Le Brooy. Rev. Horley obtained a grant of $25 000 from the government to assist in the completion of the building. Subsequent additions from 1938 were made in the same style. It was C.H. Labrooy, who also designed the Ipoh Railway Station and Ipoh Town Hall. The formal opening of this building was on 30th March 1914 by His Excellency Sir Arthur Young. Further buildings followed.
The next few decades were marked by many firsts. The first annual ACS school play – a tradition that has remained until today – was staged in 1915. Rev. L. Proebstel helmed the production of ‘Julius Caesar’ that year. In 1921 the second scout troop in the state of Perak (and the first in Ipoh) was formed in the school by Mr. A.B. Samuels. This led to one of the school’s historic moments when a rally was held at the school, in 1934, to welcome Lord Baden-Powell, the first Chief Scout.
‘The Voyager’, ACS’s annual school magazine, was first launched in 1926 and in 1936, Mr. P.B. Bell launched the construction the first science laboratory among Perak schools. The new block, also consisting of a carpentry workshop, was officially opened in 1938.
With the onset of the Pacific War, the British Army requisitioned the front portion of the school as their Ipoh headquarters. When the British troops withdrew in 1941, the school was taken over by the Japanese until their defeat in 1945. The school reopened its doors on the 26th of September 1945 under the first local principal, Mr. Aw Boon Jin.
In the decade that followed, the curriculum was expanded to include various languages, more science subjects and woodwork up to School Certificate Level. In 1949, ACS was the first school in Perak to offer post-Senior classes, the equivalent of today’s Form 6. In 1956, Mr. Teerath Ram took over the administration of the school. He was a visionary leader who instigated many changes including the separation of the primary and secondary sections of the school, the construction of several new blocks housing classrooms, a teachers’ lounge, a lecture theatre, an improved library and a new canteen. He was also responsible for the construction of the recreation centre and the swimming pool – the pride of the school of which the school teachers contributed $32 000 of the $140 000 building cost – as well as the $250 000 indoor stadium, named “Teerath Ram Hall” in his honour.
Several upgrades to the school were undertaken in subsequent years, including the building of an Audio Visual Aids (AVA) Room, the setting up of the School Band, and under Principal Thomas Kok Hee Fatt, the modernising of the school saw the set up a Computer Room and four additional AVA rooms. He saw the significance of sports and of creating a comfortable and pleasant environment in which the students could excel, doing his part to make the school greener. He also introduced the Eagle as the school mascot in 1999.
ACS has in its alumni several prolific sportsmen including the badminton players Mr. Teoh Seng Khoon (Thomas Cup 1949 and All-England 1949) and Mr. Cheah Soon Kit (Thomas Cup 1992); Malaysian Olympic representatives Professor Thong Saw Pak (weightlifting, Helsinki 1952), Mr. Philip Sankey (hockey, Melbourne 1956 and Tokyo 1964), Mr. Chet Singh a/l Sarmukh Singh (hockey, Tokyo 1964) and Dato Poon Fook Loke (hockey captain, Montreal 1976 and Los Angeles 1984). The school also produced top national swimmers Allan Ong and Anthony Ang.”