St. Peter’s College was launched as St. Joseph’s College, Colombo South by Rev. Fr. Maurice Le Goc, the visionary Rector of St. Joseph’s College in 1922 and obviously sports and many other extracurricular activities were introduced by St. Joseph’s from early years. Two examples are Cricketers studying at St. Peter’s playing for St. Joseph’s College up until a separate team represented St. Peter’s in 1927 and Football launched at St. Peter’s in 1925 while it was still St. Joseph’s College Colombo South.

Although it is obvious that this should be the natural order of things, as St. Peter’s progressed as a College independent of St. Joseph’s after 1927, there are at least three activities that St. Peter’s College introduced before its brother school. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, least of all to Peterites as their indefatigable Rector of the era, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Perera ensured that progress was in leaps and bounds.

1932-1st-Rugby-team-Capt.-Lim-F-Bilimoria-Coach-Herbert-E-Wittachchi-Copy-QA-1-scaled1932-1st-Rugby team-Capt.-Lim F Bilimoria – Coach Herbert E Wittachchi

As early as 1932 – during the Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Nicholas Perera (1927-1943) – the Peterites were competing in the rugby field with the pioneers of that sport of the era, namely Kingswood and Trinity from Kandy and Royal and Zahira from Colombo. The first Peterite team to face the much fancied teams in 1932 was captained by Lim Bilimoria and the squad included such stalwarts as J E F Pereira, Villiers Gunawardena, Shirley de S Illesinghe, V Arnolda, Noel Harridge, L C de Fonseka, Paul de Niese, Kenneth Nugara, Benedict Alwis, Eric Perera, K B Y Rambukwella, J H Elders, C Collom, E Dias, D A Pereira, Roy Reimers and E D Perera.

St. Joseph’s, on the other hand introduced rugby in the year 1954 through a team called ‘Hornets’ but official rugby at St. Joseph’s had commenced an year or two later.

In 1933, the year following the introduction of rugby, Rev. Fr. Nicholas Perera of revered memory, as Rector, decided to introduce the House system at St. Peter’s. He created four Houses for the Peterites and they were: Anthony House – named after the Archbishop at the time the school was started, the Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Coudert; Peter House – named after the Archbishop at the time the House System was started, the Most Rev. Dr. Peter Marque; Maurice House – named after the Very Rev. Fr. Maurice Le Goc, the Founding Rector and Nicholas House – named after the first Rector of St. Peter’s, Very Rev. Fr. Nicholas Perera. The number of Houses at College now is six and include Basil House and Arthur House created much later.

Although the year in which the Joes started a House system is not available to me, I am assured by a Josephian historian that the House system was started at St. Joseph’s after the Peterites. In fact, records have it that the first Inter-House athletics meet at St. Joseph’s was held on 20th September 1935.

Not surprisingly and for obvious reasons two of the Houses at St. Joseph’s are named after the same eminent personages that the Peteries chose them, namely Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Coudert (Anthony House at St. Peter’s and Coudert House at St. Joseph’s) and Most Rev. Dr. Peter Marque (Peter House at St. Peter’s and Marque House at St. Joseph’s), both Archbishops of Colombo.

1956.6.30-1st-School-Band-St.-Peters-College-Band1956.6.30- 1st School Band- St.Peters College Band

As many now know but some don’t wish to acknowledge, St. Peter’s was the first school to start a Band. Known then as the ‘Cadets’ Fife and Drum Band’ it was formed on 30th June 1956. This was during the Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Arthur N Fernando (1956-1963). Although the Peterites were not allowed to continue cadeting after the schools takeover in 1960, the ‘Band played on’. The first leader of the Peterite Fife and Drum Band was Dodwell de Silva (Bugle Major in the Ceylon Cadet Corp) and the other members of the band were – Hatim Darwoodbhoy, Roger Philips, D Crusz, Desmond Morias, Mouldrich, Alwis, Claude Crusz, Gerry Von Bergium and Jefery Von Bergium (on drums); Venkit Narayan (on cymbals); Humphry Rodrigo (side drums); Schumarker (bass drum); Hector Pietersz, Carlyle Nugera, Pompeus, Coloums, Linus Jayawardena, Fredrick Avery (aka Miller), Jeyer Rodrigesz, Eden Pompeus, Ivan Nugera, Humphrey Solomnsz, Rodrick Hughes, Patrick Hingert and Tony Earnest (bugles). Being the only band in existence in those days, the Peterite Band was much in demand, specially at schools’ sports meets and was also part of the performing bands – in fact the only school band – at the Independence Day parade in 1957. The Peterite Band, as we all know, has come a long way and even now whenever the Peterite band plays at any event they are the cynosure of all eyes.

The Peterite Band having been the first school band, I presume there is no need to look for the start of the Josephian Band. Having said that, it is on record that the Western Band of St. Joseph’s College was launched in the year 1977, during the Rectorship of Rev. Fr. Quintus Fernando.

I wonder if there were other Peterite firsts and invite others to share their knowledge. This invitation is also to any Josephian who might have knowledge of their College history to put me right in case they have evidence to dispute what is on record here.

Algi Wijewickrema

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