1. Adisadel founded as SPG Grammar School

 The history of Formal Education started with the Portuguese on the Gold Coast when King John III of Portugal gave instructions to the Governor at Elmina in 1829 “to provide reading, writing and religious teachings for African children”. This was to be done by the Catholic Missionaries. The Dutch followed with 1637 edict to help children of Elmina ‘qualified’ to learn to advance in the Christian faith. The British presence had little impact in the creation of schools to educate the Gold Coasters except the sending of Philip Quaque of Cape Coast and later Acquah and Sackey from Anomabo to be educated in England just as the Dutch missionaries had also sent Jacobus Capitein of Elmina, Christian Jacob Protten of Accra and Anton Wilhem Amo of Axim to Europe to study in the eighteenth century.

The 19th century saw a snail paced putting up of schools until the Wesleyan Missionary, which emerged in Gold Coast in 1835 after Anglicans (Church of England) had left, started planting schools and founding a girls’ school in 1836 and Richmond Boys school in 1876, two years after the Gold Coast became the British Colony. From there on, the Gold Coast educational landscape was dominated by the Methodist, until the Church of England out of necessity re-entered the field of education in 1906, having absented themselves for eons. This was in line with the competition with the Methodist and the enactment of the Education Ordinance of 1888 which established a partnership between the Government and Christian missions/churches vis-a-vis formal education.

Consequently, when the Mfantsipim School under the then Headmaster, Rev. J. Delaney Russel insisted that both boarders and non-boarding (day-students) students attend the Methodist Church as part of the church`s proselytization efforts, a deep rival dagger was sunk into the bosom of Nathaniel Temple Hamlyn,(the Lord Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Accra from 1909 to 1910). The Lord Bishop made an instant move to put up a new school for the Anglicans and other Gold Coasters. After making his research and finding Cape Coast then as the cradle and centre of premium education, he settled on a giant storey-building nicknamed S.S. Sir George at the Topp Yard in Cape Coast. Hence, on Tuesday 4th January 1910, the novel school was opened at the Topp Yard in the ancient city of Cape Coast. The opening was greeted with ecstatic fanfare and jamboree in the town. In the morning around 7:30 a.m., on that day, the inauguration began with the well-attended celebration of Holy Communion at the Christ Church officiated by Nathaniel Temple Hamlyn.

 In the afternoon around 3:45 p.m., Bishop Hamlyn officiated another Dedication Service in the Christ Church. Afterwards, an informal reception was given at the Church House by Bishop Hamlyn and his wife, Mrs Hamlyn to meet the School Governor, Church officials and all who contributed to the making of the novel school.  Finally, at 5 O’clock, the School was finally opened by the Lord Bishop of Accra and was named as Society of the Propagation Grammar School (SPG Grammar School). The crème de la crème of dignitaries that greeted the occasion included M. Winifred Haigh, Mahel Robinson, E. C. Elliot, Captain O. Whigham, J. Biney-Crawford, Jos A. Britton, Dr. Richard Akinwande Savage, E. D. Alunoah, W. Hutton-Mensah, William M. Fynn, and T. Barber.

  1. Pioneer Students

In line with formation and commencement of school, 20 gifted students seeking to drink from fountain of the new citadel of enlightenment had already been enrolled on 5th January 1910 before the actual opening of the school. The pioneer students who enrolled first in the morning were 19, but another joined in the afternoon after the school was opened. The full list of the students are shown in Table 1 below:



1 Augustus James Fry


11 Albert Sunkersette Mends


2 Joseph William de Graft Johnson


12 Clement Henry Elliott


3 James Victor Mayne


13 John Stephen Crankson


4 Lewis Augustus Brydow Brown


14 Samuel Cobbah Sagoe


5 Ebenezer Benjamin Quashie Quaynor


15  Jacob Tawiah Stephen


6 George Christian Mends


16 Robert Dougan Mends


7 George Christian Heywood


17  Albert Henry Addo


8 John Thomas Green Ackon


18 William Thomas Flight Davidson


9 Joseph Jonah Mefful


19 Robert Ekow Wryter


10 James Hector Mayne


20 Ishmael Thomas Williams

  Table 1. The Legendary 20: List of the first pioneering students of Adisadel College in 1910


(c) Bumpy but good start

After the school was founded, academic work commenced in tandem with Temple`s vision of producing teachers, catechists, and priests for the English Church mission. Extra-curricular activities with regards to drilling started earnestly. On 10th February 1910, Captain Wigham of Cape Coast Castle started the drilling of the boys in the afternoon at Topp Yard but moved the exercise to the Victoria Park on the following day before changing it to the mornings from 18th February 1910. 

On the 14 May 1914, Rev. G. Weston, became the first person to fall sick and was hospitalised for two days before resuming his duties again. Good news also came to the school when the SPG England gave three scholarships of £10 a year each tenable for three years to the school. As it pertains to Missionary Schools, Church Holidays and Public Holidays were duly observed in the infantile stage of Adisadel. The included the 20th May-funeral of King Edward VIII of England, 24th May- British Empire Day, 3rd June Birthday-King George V of England and 22nd September funeral of Sir John Rodgers, the Governor of the Gold Coast. The school was closed to observe these solemn occasions. On 22nd June 1910, Cape Coast experienced a heavy downpour of rain with thunderstorms which caused the school to be closed. The rainfall affected the eastern part of the building and caused it to collapse because the downpour compromised the building foundation.

Repair works were done, but it hampered academic progress of the students as classes became irregular. Despite these initial drawbacks, three students: Lewis A. B. Brown, James V. Mayne and George C. Mends sat for the Civil Service examination and succeeded to pass with Mends emerging first in the entire Gold Coast Colony. Mayne and Brown also came second and third after Mends and out of total of 19 boys who passed in the Colony. Immediately afterwards, the school closed down for the first term in August. On 9th December 2010, nine boys: De Graft Johnson, Brown, Crankson, Heywood, Mayne, Ephson, Mefful, Quaynor, and J. S. Wartemberg sat for the College of Preceptors Examination for which Mr W. J. Pitts, Headmaster of the Government School was appointed to supervise.

Just a year after the school was founded, the Government of the Gold Coast gave assistance to the school. This came at a time when all the nine students who sat for College Preceptors Examination had passed their papers with flying colours on 23rd February 1911. Five students passed with Honours and six had Distinction in one or more subjects. As usual, James Mayne had six Distinction out of eight. SPG Grammar school became a centre of attraction of the Gold Coast intellectual elites. Lawyer Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford came to the school as the first Gold Coast nationalist to address the students. Dr. Richard Akinwande Savage, the renowned Cape Coast based physician of ethnic Nigerian Yoruba extraction, was the friend of the school and its pro bono physician who operated the school`s clinic known as the Red Cross Sick Bay. He offered lessons in hygiene and physiology to the students on regularly basis. On 21 June 1911, Chief William Zacchaeus Coker, merchant and the Tufuhen of Cape Coast also came to the school to chair a concert staged by the students. In all, the most important day was 24th October 1919, where the entire school marched to the Castle for the special reception of His Excellency the Governor of the Gold Coast, Brigadier General Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg.

The school continued to attract new students, 14 knowledge seekers came in with six on scholarships on 28th February 1914 to study. The boys studied very hard to prove their mettle in all subjects. Thus when the 1918 College of Preceptors Examination was released, five boys obtained Senior Certificates. Victor Savage emerged first with 795 marks, G. P. Savage (760 marks), B. D. Okyne, (725 marks), Francis Charles G. Hutchison (585 marks), C. E. Martinson (550 marks), Charles Francis Hayfron-Benjamin (675 marks). Twelve boys passed the Junior:—C. F. H. Benjamin, G. E. O. J. Quartey, E. J. P. Brown J. B. Arthur, A. B. K. Williams. S. K. Addai, F. K. Amissah, H. F. Laing, J. W. Cole, A. M. Asare, J. S. Kankam and D. W. Duncan. J. W. Cole obtained Distinction in English Language and Scripture, and D. W. Duncan in Scripture. Fifteen boys passed the Preliminary: —C. M. W. Cochrane, J. M. Bartels, W. M. Arthur, H. N. Datey, E. G. Asiedoo, I. B. A. Adjaye, E. A. Adjaye, C. W. Quist, J’. W. O. Addoh, J. Classpeter, P. A. Hammond, B. Baffoe, J. B. Mensah. T. E. E. Ampomah and J. E. Ayensu. E. G. Asiedoo, obtained Distinction in Algebra and J. Classpeters in Drawing. Two boys attempting the Senior, and one boy attempting the Preliminary, were not placed. Out of the 25 mathematical papers only two passed the exams. On 8th November 1919 Cambridge Exams, Edward Okyir Asafu-Adjaye and his brother, Isaac Boaten Asafu-Adjaye, Ambrocius M Asare, H. J. M. Laing and Charles F. H. Hayfron-Benjamin passed and one student failed. As motivation, Lawyer G. H. Savage, brother of Dr R. A. Savage who left the country and had been succeeded by Dr Buckley as a physician, visited the school and spoke to the boys about the results and encouraged them to strive harder to achieve their goals. A Half-holiday was given to the school. Lawyer Kobina Arku Korsah (later Chief Justice Sir K. A. Korsah) and John Glover Addo, OBE, also visited the school to encourage and advise the students.

On the sporting front within this early period, the school played cricket and football. The timetable was to play cricket or football three times a week. The school played their first two football games with the then Catholic School and one cricket with Richmond College (Mfantsipim). Later on 8th April 1918, the school beat Richmond College by three goals to one in football.

(d). Pioneer Teachers

Education would never be able to go well without teachers because they play a vital role in every dimension of education as well as in the lives of the students. Thus, education without teachers would be like a herd of sheep without a shepherd who would be devoured by wild animals. In the foundation of Adisadel, the following were the extraordinary teachers who tended to the legendary scholastic 20 students: Rev. G. B. Brown, Headmaster, Rev. G. Weston, Thomas Hutton Mensah and J B de Graft Johnson. On 24th April 1911, Rev. Weston acted as the acting Headmaster pending the arrival of Rev. Brown from England, Hutton-Mensah and de Graft Johnson were elevated to the position of 1st Assistant Headmaster and 2nd Assistant Headmaster, respectively. Later, Rev. Robert Fishers and R G Koufie came to join the staff. Neil Melchior Renner, B. A. (Durham) who has been teaching at St. Cyprian School in Kumasi came to the school to teach Form (which form) Logic on 19th October 1916. Apart from Renner, Rev. J. R. C. Yalley, Mr. K. Akun Egan and Mr. Augustus W. E. Appiah also came from St. Cyprian to join the staff on 29th July 1919. Mr. G. A. Graham also joined the staff in that year.

Some of the brilliant and selfless Senior students were also recruited and appointed to the position of temporary teachers. Amongst these pioneers were J. W. de Graft Johnson, the first Head Prefect of the School; the always present James Mayne, R. Amonoo and T. Williams, and .J. W. de Graft Johnson who became the first Senior Boy to be appointed as permanent teacher at a salary of £25 per annum. On 25th April 1914, R. G. Kuofie left the school, and Samuel Cobbah Sagoe, Senior boy who was temporary teacher of the Government School replaced him on 3rd August 1915.