Longmarket Girls’ School Oldest Old Girl Message from the principal, Deryl Muir

2015-08-05 06:00
PHOTO: supplied

Longmarket girls.

PHOTO: supplied Longmarket girls.

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LONGMARKET Girls’ School was founded on 1 August, 1890 and is the oldest government primary school for girls.

It was established on the premises previously occupied by the Boys’ Model School on the corner of Longmarket and Boshoff streets and was called Longmarket Street Girls, although there were some boys.

Miss Jarvis was appointed the first headmistress. The school went up to Standard IV and had about 156 girls, many of whom were from farms and outlying areas.

The school began with a single-storey building. As it grew and when Standard VII pupils were admitted in 1903, it was no longer adequate and a building programme was started.

By 1910 the school was housed in one of the finest buildings in Pietermaritzburg. On 11 October, 1911 cookery classes were started. While Miss Murchie was principal, Miss Lorna Badock, a teacher at the school wrote the school song, which was set to music by Mr Cyril Wright. The school song was dedicated to Miss Murchie.

The history of the school is interwoven with the history of Pietermaritzburg.

On 4 August, 1920, 54 Longmarket School girls became founder members of the girls’ high school. On 31 March, 1939, the installation of electric light was completed. In 1950 the school held its first public celebrations to mark its diamond jubilee. Physical education teachers were commonly known as drill teachers. After 82 years on this site, due to the school having increased considerably in numbers, a new school was built.

On 1 December, 1972, the girls assembled in their school houses and, led by two pipers of the Caledonian Band, marched down to the new school at our current premises at 380 Bulwer Street.

Mr A. Kempe, the headmaster of Merchiston Boys’ School, presented a beautiful lectern to the school to commemorate the move to the new premises.

School began in the new building in January 1973 and was now named Longmarket Girls’ School. The old building was declared a national monument in 1975.

The swimming classes now had be to transported by bus to the Buchanan Street baths. It was imperative that the school built its own pool. On 20 September, 1975 the gates of a newly constructed pool were opened. Since then a junior primary pool has be added.

One of the most problematic aspects of the new site is that it lies on the flood plain of the Msunduzi River and the school has been threatened by floodwaters on more than one occasion. On 27 July, 1976 the original dykes around the school were raised by 60cm. However, this was all in vain as on 28 September, 1987 the Duzi River burst its banks engulfing the school premises and submerging all amenities and structures on ground level to a depth of 1.56 metres.

All pupils were safely evacuated. Although the school is currently a girl’s only school, in the past boys have attended. In January 1976 boys were readmitted to the junior primary after they had been discontinued for 36 years before in 1940.

Recently it was necessary for the school once more to phase out boys as they were unable to find placement at other schools when they left in Grade 3.

Mrs Byrne introduced chess in the school in 1977. Athletics was introduced in 1979. On 8 December, 1979 a function was held to make the official naming and dedication of the Elaine Pechey Hall. Two tennis courts were opened on 21 September, 1982. Cross-country events were introduced during 1983 and Longmarket School co-hosted the Hosking Week with Merchiston in 1985. Since then basketball and soccer have been introduced.

In September 1985 Longmarket Girls’ combined with Merchiston to produce the musical Oklahoma. In July 1991 the school opened its doors to children of all race groups.

On 16 May, 1995 the Maureen Byrne Library Centre was opened. It was later destroyed in the 1987 flood. Then on

7 November, 1996 Libraryland for junior primary classes was opened. In 2001 our first Grade R class started. A technology centre was built in 2003 and a music room in 2006. On 4 September, 2007 the Jill Molloy Media Centre was opened. In 2009 our first Grade RR class started. This year a new “Links” block with two new Grade R classrooms was opened. Today Longmarket Girls’ School is a unique girls-only school catering for girls from Grade RR to Grade 7. We offer a structured, well-balanced, rounded educational programme, various sporting codes and cultural activities.

We have a team of enthusiastic, dedicated teachers and teacher aides who provide quality education. Futhermore, for girls with learning difficulties we have a tutor satellite centre at our school.

Longmarket prides itself on being a caring school and we try to live by our motto of “Loyalty, Honour and Truth”.

Our aim is to prepare and equip our young ladies for their future by ensuring they acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to become the best that they can be. - Supplied.

“Our 125th birthday celebrations went extremely well. The awesome walk, thanksgiving service, teas and braai have created many special, wonderful memories for all involved. We praise and thank God for the lovely, sunny weather, His protection and many blessings.”

The school began with a single-storey building. As it grew and when Standard VII pupils were admitted in 1903, it was no longer adequate and a building programme was started

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