The Mount Lavinia ~ Gurutalawa Thomian Nexus and the Big Match

The College of Saint Thomas the Apostle, was founded at Mutwal by Dr James Chapman , the first Anglican Bishop of Colombo . He himself was a product of Eton College and King’s College Cambridge . The foundation stone was laid on St Thomas Day , the 21 st December 1849 and declared open on 3rd February 1851 in Mutwal . The College motto Esto Perpetua and the College colours Blue, Black and Blue are Etonian legends and the naming of forms and classes at STC were set to be based on the prestigious English Public School pattern .  In 1886 the STC Mt Lavinia Old Boys Association was formed , which is the oldest OBA in the world, untarnished and is over 125 years old now.

After having been at Mutwal for 66 years , the 1st term of 1918 saw S.Thomas’ settling down in Mt Lavinia . In 1924 the legendary Big Club Grounds was declared open by Warden McPherson as a Memorial to those who sacrificed their lives in the First World War . The Small Club ground were laid in 1928 . Also in 1928 by an Act of Parliament the Board of Governors was founded and incorporated .

In 1932 Canon R S De Saram the Sub Warden was elevated as the Warden in Mt Lavinia, at a relatively young age , having had a distinguished record at Keble and Cuddestone, Oxford.  He is remembered for the high levels of discipline that he strictly maintained, apart from all the development at Mt Lavinia in many fields . His “ spare the rod and spoil the child ” philosophy (frowned by modern reformists) , was appreciated by the Old Thomians , who revere him even today . Speaking at the official opening of the De Saram Road Mt Lavinia in the mid 1940s , a contemporary of the Warden,  State Councillor / Parliamentary Secretary and Chairman of the Urban Council the late Simon Abeywickrama said that they aptly named the road after Warden De Saram because like the Warden , it was “ dead straight ” .  Warden De Saram once remarked at a Big Match to a VVIP that Thomians are never dead till their buried when STC were in a tight spot . True to his wisdom , STC had come out of it with flying colours at the end . Canon De Saram placed great values on Thomian discipline and character than on mere cleverness .

The 2nd World War disrupted life at STC Mt Lavinia and the school had to vacate the premises on 9th April 1942, to make way for the 35th British General  Hospital  for Armed Services in the College premises . Notably, Old Thomian Lt Basil Horsefall was awarded the highest recognition with the Victoria Cross in 1918 for his bravery in World War One . The Thomian grit, guts and glory is historical and of International repute .

STC at Gurutalawa was born on 12th May 1942 with the revered Dr R L Hayman as the Headmaster . STC Mount was relocated in Guru during the World War 2 .  The life and time spent by Dr Hayman at Gurutalawa from 1942 to 1963 is exceptional . He spent his personal wealth to establish the school and bequeathed his wealth to Guru at the end . He bestrode the affairs of the school like a colossus . Dr Hayman was the  longest standing Sub Warden at STC Mount from 1937 to 1957 and the Headmaster  STC at Gurutalawa both during that period as well which is unique .One cannot forget genial Mrs Mary Hayman who carried high standards as the highly respected Sick Room Matron .

In spite of the rivalry, Royal and STC have often contributed to each others growth . In April 1916 , Royalist Edmund de Livera wrote the five versus of our present Thomian College Song , that was set to the music by Warden Stone . In lighter vein , he might have been inspired seeing the grandeur at STC !  The Gurutalawa Estate was donated by Leslie De Saram a Royalist to build the school . The Thomian fraternity is grateful to Mr Leslie De Saram (a relative of Warden De Saram) and Mr Edmund de Livera .

There was  no  distinction between Mt Lavinia and Gurutalawa as said by Warden De Saram . In 1947 he addressed the Education Dept of Ceylon and later the STCML OBA AGM that both STC Mount and STC at Gurutalawa was to be considered one and the same school . Warden C H Davidson in verse quoting Two Voices by Wordsworth did refer to ” the voice from the sea and the voice from the mountains – two great voices “ , with ref to Mount and Gurutalawa

The College shifted back to Mount again after 1945, with the conclusion of the War and genial Dr Hayman assisted again . The former Five Courts was designed and donated by Dr Hayman and the STC Mount Swimming Pool donated by him was one of the earliest in Ceylon . He regularly donated his personal family wealth  to STC for development and supposedly land as well . When will see such rare human beings again ?

In 1946 all but two players in the Thomian team were from STC @ Guru and the post war Thomian cricket captains 1947, 48 and 49 were from Gurutalawa . In 1943 the last wicket partnership for the Royal Thomian was broken with a Gurutalawa connection and in 1945 a Gurutalawa bowler trained by the coach Rev A J Foster (later Headmaster), took a hat trick in the encounter . There has been many cricketers produced by STC at Guru for Mount apart from other sportsmen and scholars too . The list is endless . STC despite in new surroundings and colder climatic conditions in Guru , adopted and performed well .  The unique Obstacle Course initiated by Dr Hayman made tough Thomians on a tougher terrain . It is no surprise that the “ Thomian Grit ” prevails at crucial times from the inception , well known,  respected and feared by the Royalists in particular, over many decades !

The “ Thomianness ” is the resilience of the high quality value for which it stands and for which we are renowned and of which  forever we have reasons to be justifiably proud .

Esto Perpetua  ~  for all we have and are.

Milinda Hettiarachchi
Hony Secretary
STC at Gurutalawa OBA  ~  2010 / 2011

Writers Note 
The above article is complied by some interesting notes , randomly adopted from the History of S.Thomas’ College stated by distinguished personalities .