By Alan Megahey

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Calling in at Gabbitas Thring - the educational clearing house - he saw an advertisment for the headship of a public school in South Africa. Almost on a whim, he applied. He got the job. At the age of 35, a few months after the Munich Crisis, Fred and his family arrived at Michaelhouse in Natal. It was one of some half a dozen schools in South Africa which were, as a history of the schools is entitled, 'little England on the Veld'. Many of them had English heads and staff; all of them perpetuated the traditions and styles which are easily recognisable as 'English public school'.

With the school now having a legal existence and a site, and with money coming in, it was time to start building. An architectural competition was launched in March. W. Thornton White of Cape Town, who had agreed to act as assessor of the 16 designs which were submitted. The drawings were on view in the Cathedral Cloisters in Salisbury, and the winners and runners-up were presented with prizes by Sir Ellis Robins. The chosen design was by Messrs Montgomerie, Oldfield and Robson of Salisbury. It was a modern one, placing the main entrance (or administration) block on stilts, and making use of the local grey granite which could be excavated on site.

In the public school world, the term 'Headmaster' (or 'Head Master') is most common, though 'Principal' is sometimes used. Other titles include 'Warden' (Radley, St Edward's, Oxford), 'Master' (Marlborough, Wellington), 'Chief Master' (King Edward's, Birmingham), 'High Master' (Manchester Grammar School, St Paul's). But the other Rectors whom Fred joined 28 FOUNDING FATHERS on the Headmasters' Conference were all (except for Michaelhouse) in Scotland, where there were eight. Rather more grandly, two Oxford colleges (Exeter and Lincoln) boast a Rector.

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A School in Africa by Alan Megahey
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