Thu, 15 Apr 2004 00:00
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We profile Durban High School.

School's profile

We profile Durban High School.

Durban High School, referred to usually as DHS or simply School, has had and still has a big impact on Durban. The school has virtually grown up with the city which, though 21 years after becoming part of a British colony, was then little more than a camp on a swamp when DHS opened its doors on 1 June 1866 in two rooms and seven pupils in Smith Street. From there it moved to a disused granary in Cato Square in 1880, just after the Zulu War, and then to the Old Hospital on the foreshore. Eventually, in 1895, it moved up onto the healthier Berea to its present site, where it flourished. The land, 10 acres in all, was granted to the school by the Durban Town Council.


Name of school    Durban High School
Motto of school: Deo fretus (Relying on God)
Date of foundation: 1866
School address: 255 St Thomas Road, Durban. 4001


DHS's great rivals are Maritzburg College, founded just three years before DHS and one of South Africa's great rugby schools. It gave rugby football to DHS and the rivalry began which persists.

DHS has achieved great things on the cricket field and provided many great old boy cricketers. But rugby, which came later, is a passionate part of school life. AS Langley, the fourth headmaster of DHS, came to the school from Maritzburg College in 1910. He, nicknamed Madevu (moustache), reigned till 1931. He chucked out soccer and got rugby going, so successfully that DHS beat Maritzburg College the following year.


The first coach was Colonel AC Martin who later became the sixth headmaster of the school. The most famous coach was Izak van Heerden, who became the innovative coach of Natal and did so much to make the Pumas a playing force in rugby. The main rugby field is named after him. A Maritzburg College old boy on the staff had an enormous impact on schools sport, especially rugby, in Natal. He was Bill Payn, a Springbok rugby player and a great all-round sportsman, the founder of Natal Schools Rugby and its chairman till his untimely death in 1959. He coached the 1st XV from 1932 to 1957. While Bill Payn was away during the wear, much of it spent in a prisoner of war camp where he taught Okey Geffin to scrum, CFS van Reenen coached the 1st XV. The school’s great rugby man in recent times has been an Old Boy, Dave Magner.

Traditional rivals

DHS has several traditional rivals, but above all Maritzburg College and Glenwood southwards along the ridge. Others include Kearsney College, Hilton and Michaelhouse plus, further afield, Jeppe and KES. DHS has won more matches than it has lost against all its rivals, save only Maritzburg College.

Great Players

Two old boys have played for South Africa - Neville Tod in 1928 and Andrew Aitken. Garth Williamson was a Junior Springbok scrumhalf and several old boys have played for Natal. One of them, prop Graham Downes, played for the USA.