The Double Blue International is Sponsored and Managed by the Wesley College Colombo OBU of Australia
The Double Blue International
Wesley College Colombo - Sri Lanka
Ora et labora
The pages that follow charts Wesley's voyage of hope since its beginning in 1874
This is an International Website for all Wesleyites, past and present, created in Cyberspace. With a few clicks of the rodent you will be transported in time to Wesley College Colombo. On its many pages we honour our Principals, Teachers and Past Students. They have done us proud. It is a repository of stories, legends, anecdotes and images of schooldays and school friends. A place to drop in from time to time, browse, read, recharge and reflect. For once it was your home away from home.
This website presents more than 125 years of educational, cultural, social and intellectual life of Wesley College Colombo. The school was founded by Rev. Daniel Henry Pereira who believed in the universal value of education. The early missionary Principals had to survive the scourge of disease and the hostile local clamour for independence. In later years the Principals and the school withstood the pressures of political upheaval and civil strife. There have been two World Wars in the 20th century. But throughout those years of trouble and turmoil Wesley continued to provide a fine all round education to its students. This is a tribute to the Methodist Mission in Ceylon and the many dedicated Principals and teachers who walked the corridors of this great school.
Schools are places of endemic change. Every year new students join and those who have left go farther on life's journey outside the school gates. We must change with time and we have done so maintaining our links with our glorious past. We have kept the old traditions whilst embracing the innovative and modern. Rejuvenation and modernisation is a continuous process. It would be dismissive to say that transition has procured no benefit. The introduction of computers and the internet into the curriculum and teaching has moved us forward into an exciting new era in education.
However timeless and imposing, the school is not just a set of buildings but a vibrant community. Education at Wesley College Colombo, since its inception, has been focussed in helping emerging adults discharge their responsibilities well, as individuals in this wonderful world. At school education has always been something more than just learning text books and sitting exams. Our long tradition of excellence in sports, arts, drama and music remain a tribute to our Principals teachers and the students and long may that ethic continue.
The main function of a school is to prepare students for life. I believe, as many Wesleyites do, our school has suceeded in that task. Well, most of the time anyway!!
We all hate change and often hear the lament "the school is not what it used to be". Perhaps it never was!! This is more a nostalgic vision of a mystical, non existent past.
As for the future, the school extends the hand of friendship to welcome back as many old boys as possible. We want the school to benefit from the skills, knowledge and experience the Old Boys can offer. Wesley College ensures friendship and goodwill to all old boys and hope the joy of shared memories will give them a continuing stake in the school's success.
Ora et labora
The Double Blue Links
Linking the Alumni of Wesley College Colombo across the World
Students have trod those long corridors, sat in the classrooms, assembled in the Great Hall and played in Campbell Park since 1907. After leaving the hallowed grounds, Old Boys look back on their time and wonder what has happened to their school, friends, teachers and Principals . Those memories are more than mere nostalgia. The emotions and sentiments associated with these memories give us the greatest pleasure.
As we see from the websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, Wesley College Colombo and its Old Boys have joined the digital revolution. Over many years we have scanned the world wide web, spoken to old boys and leaders of the many organisations of the school to collect information for the Double Blue International and the ever popular Australian OBU Newsletter. We feel strongly there is now a need for an International Newsletter. Keith and I realize the enormity of the task.
A Newsletter is only as good as the support it receives from the old boys. Any news about the school and its OBU’s and members will be most welcome. Please keep us informed of the old boys’ achievements, marriages and obituaries. Facts are sacred but comment is free. We hope the old boys will be able to express their views freely and fairly. The Double Blue Link is not an official newsletter of Wesley College Colombo or its Old Boys Unions although we have common objectives.
A man of great determination, charisma and passion, Rev Henry Highfield made a pioneering contribution to education in Ceylon, at the turn of the 20th Century. . There are few Principals who have left a legacy that has profoundly and irreversibly changed the landscape in Education in our Island. Rev Henry Highfield has achieved that distinction.
Wesley College Colombo exudes history. However, the great school we see today is just over a hundred years old, almost all the brainchild of the Rev Henry Highfield, Principal 1895-1925.
Highfield of Wesley unfolds a story of long life full of interest, endeavours and achievements. It spans a momentous period of Ceylon's history. Behind any great organisation is a great leader, and schools are no exception. The Principal of the school sets the tone, the vision and the expectations for the staff and students. He was also a clever and capable man with a gift for friendship which crossed all barriers.
Rev Henry Highfield is considered the father of the present school in Karlshrue Gardens. As the City of Colombo expanded in the late 19th Century the original school in Dam Street Pettah became smothered by buildings, dust and grime. Rev. Highfield had the wisdom and foresight to collect the funds to buy the prime land adjacent to Baseline Road. The property belonged to Charles Ambrose Lorensz, a prominent solicitor. His house became the Principals' bungalow. Rev Highfield's energy was colossal, and so was his enthusiasm. He had the vision and the determination to collect the money to build the school. It was not without its vicissitudes and setbacks. He cycled from house to house appealing to the affluent to part with their money. The foundation stone for the new Wesley College was laid in 1905 and the building completed in January 1907.
Rev. Highfield changed the ethos of the school. The students were brought up to be self-reliant and ambitious. While acknowledging the importance of learning he realised that was only a part of education. The greater aim of education is the formation of character. He changed the curriculum giving importance to sports and began the prefect system looking for moral principles and gentlemanly conduct while promoting intellectual ability. Part of his reforms was to introduce the concept of the school as a community. Rev Highfield started the four houses for the school to generate friendly rivalry and encourage loyalty. He set the standard to make the students good scholars and responsible leaders. He cared passionately about public service and the need for integrity in public life.
During his reign Wesley developed into a very good school set in idyllic surroundings.. It had an able and dedicated staff and was popular with parents. Rev Highfield as the Principal was humane and approachable. The School has developed a strong academic tradition and has produced a collection of great alumni. Sir O.E.Goonetilleke, the first Ceylonese Governor General undoubtedly the best of the bunch.
Rev Highfield set high standards for future Principals to follow. Wherever we walk in the school we feel his presence. He must wander ethereally in the corridors and classrooms of that magnificient building. Its elegant facade is a special tribute to this remarkable person. Today he is the 'pater familias' of a large and vibrant community of Wesleyites scattered all over the world. His legend lives on.
Wesley College has emerged from its quiet 19th-century grand traditions to embrace modernity but its fine original buildings still remain a tribute to Rev Highfield. It is indeed a magnificent architectural masterpiece and reflects the vision of a great man..
The Great Hall at Wesley College is a perfect tribute to Rev. Henry Highfield. It has begun to show its age. Its restoration will be part of our recovery. A project for all Wesleyites to unify around. A Project on which to rebuild our hope and courage to represent the spirit of Wesley in its struggle through many hardships for over a century.
The Great Hall during the Carol Service 2014
The Hall has survived two World Wars. There are signs of damage due to the elements and the ravages of time. Plans to restore the exterior and the interior of the Great Hall are in place. The iconic beams of the Hall are made of the finest Burma teak and is the only one of its kind in Sri Lanka. The majestic English Victorian stained glass windows are of the finest. The school does not receive any government funding to maintain its buildings and we do not charge an entry fee for visitors. This however, does mean we need to raise money to maintain the Hall. The project cost is estimated at Rs 12 Million. If anyone wishes to help please contact the Principal. We are immensely grateful to all those who give so generously. It is still being extensively used and appreciated.
This is a free and independent forum managed by the Wesley College Colombo OBU of Australia. It is a collection of Memories and Images of past students and events
The site is dedicated to the Principals, Teachers and Students of Wesley College who have now departed this world. It is created in memory of their immeasurable contribution to the life of the school. They have enriched our lives. I hope now they have found eternal peace. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning , we will remember them.
Facts are sacred but comment is free. The views expressed in the articles in this website are entirely those of the authors. Any readers who wish to discuss issues further are encouraged to write to the Editor of the OBU Australia or contact the authors directly. We have received articles from Wesleyites from all round the world. There was never any occasion to edit articles for inflammatory content although it is appreciated that no institution is perfect. I sincerely hope in the fullness of time this website would be a true and accurate record of life at Wesley since its lowly beginnings in 1874. It is also hoped all the staff and students have had the opportunity to express their views freely and fairly on this site.
The editor sends his heartfelt thanks to all those who have helped to make this website a success. The site is a tribute to each and everyone of you without whom there will not be a Double Blue International. The OBU Australia has taken on the task to host and manage the Double Blue international which they will do with great pride.
Avanka Fernando has been appointed the Acting Principal of Wesley College Colombo from January 2017. He is a graduate of the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) where he obtained a BSc degree in 2012. Avanka Fernando completed a Master of Science (MSc)in Educational Leadership and Management in the University of Portsmouth in 2015. We wish him well in his new appointment to move the school forward in a challenging environment.
I am Nihal Douglas Amerasekera. I was called ND at school, amongst other names which were less flattering!! My parents preferred to call me Nihal. Scenes of endless sunny childhood days flash by although I am now thousands of miles away from those memories of Ceylon. The unforgiving nature of the economy makes those journeys home a rarity. Those memories linger on of school and home and friends.......
I have always wanted to create a website to unify all Wesleyites whatever colour, race, religion or ethnic background they may have. At Wesley we were a multi-ethnic, multi religion and multi-cultural community. I consider the many students who passed through the gates of the school as belonging to one large family. It was my desire to bring them all together at this site wherever in the world they may be. There is no better meeting place than the internet to reflect, meet and greet.
- Provide information about school friends and teachers for a database of email addresses.
- Present photos and interesting anecdotes about school life.
- Publish articles and letters sent by old boys and OBU's.
- Make the site a meeting place for Wesley College Old boys all over the world.
- Record the recent and past history of our school including its gripes and swipes.
- Chronicle Obituaries and appreciations
- Keep alumni updated and involved with the Wesley College of today;
- Inform and interest readers about alumni networks and events worldwide;
- Take pride in alumni successes.
- Show the enormous influence Wesley College and its alumni have had and continue to have in Sri Lanka and the world.
Looking back is a curious and fascinating experience. In addition to the brilliant academic achievements and superlative sporting performances, here I have sought out the eccentric, the ludicrous and the socially revealing aspects of everyday life at school. After the 'short' fun packed existence at the 'Karlsruhe Village' with its wonders,its heroes and villains, the rest of one's long life seems an anti-climax !! Life's experiences have taught me that being clever was less important than being reliable and having an honest, dignified and cheerful attitude. These were drilled into us at Wesley. Wit and humour were endemic at school. Representing the school at sports was the peak of one's achievements. Everyone else fell short or so it seemed in those distant days.
I started work on this website in the depths of a bitter, rainswept English winter in 1997. It was a pivotal year with the Labour Party of the United Kingdom returning to power for the first time in 18 years. Tony Blair became the Prime Minister, in a landslide victory. U.S. President Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term at the Oval Office. The United Kingdom handed over sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China. By then the Internet had become an important mode of communication and a leading source of news and information with the birth of the information superhighway called the World Wide Web.
Those long days and nights spent on its creation gave me a wonderful insight into the richness of life and achievements of this great school. Time is precious. Content is not cost free. Writing is work. There are no advertising revenues and no sponsorships. But it has been a pleasure and a privilege to be the editor of this journal. I am humbled by the immense support received from old boys. It is inspiring to note there is a wondeful brotherhood of Wesleyites out there willing to help. I rejoice in the fact I was able to be of service to such a multitude of old boys all over the world. At times it is hard to comprehend the convulsive changes that have taken place within society since my childhood.
Times have changed since my schooldays. A recent poem summarised the endless posibilities for students today.
I am not in school today.
But the tape deck on my desk,
Will record each word you say.
Switch on my laptop's Webcam,
When you have something to show,
And if you pass out homework,
Find my fax number below.
I’ve a pager and cell phone,
So I won’t be hard to reach.
Since I don’t need to be in class,
I’ll do lessons at the beach.
From Dr Nihal D Amerasekera
Due to the ravages of time and living in the UK, so far removed from Karlsruhe Gardens, I have found it increasingly difficult to manage and keep the DBI updated and relevant. I am grateful to the Old Boys Union of Australia for agreeing to take over and manage the DBI. The handover took place in November of 2017. With such a loyal group of passionate Wesleyites I couldn't have found a better home for the website. I am confident they will continue to uphold the traditions, culture and heritage of that great institution through the pages of the DBI. I see a bright future for the website and wish the DBI well.
When I was looking for a good home for the DBI it was Gillian Leembruggen who floated the idea that I should speak with the Australian OBU. Gillian has helped me enormously, over many years, by sending me paper cuttings,photos and articles of her time at the Principal's Bungalow at Wesley College and then at Trinity College Kandy. Those articles on the Oorloffs are priceless.
My sincere thanks to the Australian OBU Committee and Tony Careem for their help in making the transfer appear seemless and painless.
A special thank you to Keith de Kretser,Trevor Collette and Brian Wijekoon for their efforts to convince the brotherhood of its value. I do appreciate their kindness and help. The OBU Committee made it all happen.
Finally my heartfelt thanks to all the old boys, teachers, and well wishers who by their encouragement and contributions have made the DBI what it is today.
I will indeed follow its fortunes with love and affection
Long may it ride the ether, inform and enlighten Old Boys Worldwide.
Long Live the DBI
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Keep in touch
Don't lose contact with your school friends. With the Internet and modern Telecommunications it is easier to keep in touch, than you think. Please send me your details including the email address to be included in the database, completely free of charge. Your friends are just a phone call away (or email away).