Started in 1834, the legacy of Ewingers lives on in Ludhiana
Missionary zeal: Started by the Presbyterian Church in 1834, the oldest boys’ school in greater Punjab during the pre-Independence era drew students from Lahore, Ambala and even Allahabad; today it’s a co-ed school affiliated to PSEB looking for govt help.Updated: May 28, 2018 10:02 IST
Just 16 years shy of turning 200, Ewing Christian Senior Secondary School near Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) on Brown Road stands testimony to the significance Ludhiana held as the last outpost of the British in the North. The terracotta-coloured arched columns and arches with a façade of lemon-yellow walls, the imposing double-storeyed structure is witness to the rise and fall of rulers while keeping pace with changing times.
Built at a time when schools were rare and few, the concept of modern education was introduced by missionaries of the Presbyterian Church in 1834 on the suggestion of Sir Claude Wade, who was in-charge of political affairs of Ludhiana from 1823-38. The English occupation of the Ludhiana outpost was meant to be temporary but the troops were never withdrawn during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s lifetime till 1839. In 1838-39, Shah Shujah-ul-Mulk, the exiled Afghan ruler, was put up at Ludhiana under English protection.
- The school was initially called the City School for Boys and housed in a building in Lakkar Bazaar. Boys were taught English and the Bible.
- Eventually the building and ground came up and the Christian Boys Boarding School was opened on the premises on Brown Road in 1877. The boarding school was shifted to Ludhiana from Lahore, where it functioned for three years.
- In that era, the activities of the school led to an awakening of thought, which in itself was considered a significant contribution.
- Being the oldest school in greater Punjab of the pre-Independence era, students from Lahore, Ambala and even Allahabad used to study here and stay in the hostel.
Winds of change
Today, the school is co-educational and affiliated to the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB). It is spread over
two acres in the heart of the city, a far cry from the campus that stretched across 15 acres with huge trees and spacious playgrounds. The school hostel has also been demolished.
At present, the school has a strength of 500 students, including 285 boys and 215 girls with classes up to 12th grade. The school was upgraded to Class 10 in 1984 and in 2007, it was made a senior secondary school. The winds of change have swept this centuries-old institution too as it now has five smart classrooms with digital boards.
The school is now functioning under a registered society: St Thomas Educational and Research Society of the Diocese of Chandigarh, Church of North India.
“Earlier, our school was an aided one. Over the years, the government stopped the aid and the strength of the school is on the decline. I feel proud to be part of such a rich legacy but the government should help maintain our rich heritage,” says principal Avinash Kumar.
Though the authorities do not have any old photographs of the school dating back to the 19th century for the files were eaten by termites, they have maintained the legacy of starting school daily by ringing the huge bell installed on the terrace.
“The bell was made by Alfred Ivers and Company, New York, and installed at the school in 1841. The name of the company, year and place is still inscribed on the bell,” says principal Avinash Kumar.
The bell rings every morning for five minutes before school starts. Its sound would once reach Aarti Chowk, 5 km away, but the increase in noise pollution has taken a toll and it can now be heard clearly till Clock Tower.
Another witness that has stood the test of time is the more than a century old tree on the campus that has been the favourite destination of generations of students and teachers.
Students of the school have gone on to become leading bankers, doctors and teachers. Dr William Bhatti, the director of CMCH, is also an alumnus. “I have many fond memories of the school as I studied there from Class 1 to 10 and passed out in 1980. The best thing about the school is that it focuses on quality and practical education,” he says.
Sharing details, Dr Bhatti says, “Right from a young age we were taught managerial skills and took turns managing a tuck shop to prepare a weekly report on profit and losses incurred.” “Those days were simple and full of fun. I remember how we used to play and make the most of the 40-minute recess time. I will always cherish memories of those stress-free days,” says Dr Bhatti.
Another former student, Peter Prashar, who is technical supervisor at the CMCH blood bank, says, “I was born in 1960 along with my two brothers. We are triplets. All three of us were admitted to Ewing school in 1964.”
“The name of our school is enough to send us down memory lane. We used to sing under its huge trees on the campus and play on the swings. The biggest strength of our school is its teachers. We’ve been fortunate to be part of such an old school,” Prashar says.
This school sure has stood the test of time.
Next: Satish Chander Dhawan Government College Ludhiana, 1920.
First Published: May 28, 2018 09:59 IST