3.1   ADISADEL COLLEGE: 1920-1930

The 1920s was the era of new leadership in the Gold Coast. Sir Gordon Guggisberg`s regime was taking shape with a more optimistic agenda for the Colony than his predecessors. On SPG Grammar school campus at Topp Yard, the school was still growing strong and had been receiving some grants from the state. The 1887 Education Ordinance which created a partnership between the Government and Christian missions/churches vis-a-vis formal education also made a distinction between Government schools and Assisted Schools. The Assisted School were an institution which had a minimum of twenty pupils, was open to all children, irrespective of religion or, was staffed with certified teachers. Grants-in-aid were given to the religious bodies in formal education but also it enabled the churches to increase their educational contribution. Adisadel was in the category of Assisted Schools in the early 1920s to 1924. 

On the main campus, the school was hit by resignation of staff. Mr G. A. Graham, a teaching staff, resigned his post in early January and was later replaced by Ambrocius M. Asare, an old boy who transferred from St Marys School in Accra to join the staff on 27th January 1922. Then on 9th March 1920, Mr. Egan, another teacher, also resigned his post. This forced the School to recruit and appoint C. F. Hayfron-Benjamin as a Temporary Teacher. Henry Laing was also brought in to take his new position as Assistant Teacher in same month. H. J.M. Laing followed and become an Assistant Teacher on 22nd May 1920. Amid these occurrences, the result of Cambridge Local Examination sat on December of 1919 was released on 5 April 1920. Out of the 18 boys who sat for the exams, the following were successful: J N Roland (Prelims); and E. Asafu-Adjaye, J. Amorin, M. A. Hayford, D. Owoo, L. Kyiamah, D. H. Reindorf (all juniors) and Seniors Isaac B. Asafu-Adjaye, H. Laing and A. M. Asare passed their exams. At that time, the entire teaching staff at the school included: Rev. Hutton-Mensah, Principal; O. M. Renner, Vice Principal, Rev. Yalley, Mr. Hayfron-Benjamin and H. Laing. On the 8th of April 1920, the Lord Bishop of Accra appointed Renner as the acting Principal when Rev. Hutton Mensah travelled.


3.1   Holidays and SPG Secondary School

The period also saw the emergence of Adisadel’ s acting capabilities in the annals of Ghana history. On 7th May 1920, the school staged a memorable Public Concert which included ladies. It was the cynosure of the entire Cape Coast Township. The event brought the Acting Commissioner of the Central Province as the Chair. The proceeds from the concert were devoted to the Schools Picnic Fund. Flurry of holidays were also observed afterwards. There was 13 May Ascension-Day, and 24th May Empire Day celebrations, after which students were photographed. On this occasion, the students went to enjoy the rest of the day at Lawyer Peter Awoonor-Williams’ Farm and had a Picnic. The following day the Archdeacon of Kumasi, Venerable G. M. Morrison paid a visit to the school and addressed the boys.  A half-holiday was granted upon his request.

Then on the 2nd of June 1920 Government Education Report, the SPG Grammar School was referred to as SPG Secondary School for the first in tandem with the caption given Government Assisted Schools. On that same day, the Asafu-Adjaye brothers and F. Kweku Amissah were entered for College matriculation exams to be held at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone in September. In that exams, only Isaac Asafu-Adjaye passed. To offer them chance to study for their papers, the Asafu Adjaye brothers, who were teaching pro bono, were withdrawn from the school teaching staff.

3.2 Great Joy in Adisadel: Aggrey of Africa came here some!

Whilst Adisadel College was growing steadily, as a fledging competitive second cycle institution, Rev. Fisher paid a visit to the school on 26th August 1920 and expressed his delight in the improvement of the school and the increase in number of students. The campus welcomed members of the Phelps Stokes African Education Commission led by Dr. Jesse Jones, Professor James Emman, Kwegyir Aggrey (Aggrey of Africa) and Rev. A Markin on 14th October 1920. They were accompanied by the Hon. E. J. P. Brown and Mr. A. Gardner, Acting Senior Inspector of Schools. On that day, there was great joy among the boys at the rare privilege of observing these dignitaries inspecting their boarding facility. This must have ignited academic zealousness in students to study hard to pass with flying colours to walk in the footsteps of Dr. Aggrey. The joys of the students were further amplified when on 12th November 1920, Lawyer G. H. Savage announced an essay competition which was opened to all boys in all the forms. He offered prizes of two guineas and a guinea respectively for the two best essays. The essay entitled: The Football League Competition for the Governor`s Shield. It was competed for by six students and was marked by Mr G. Nobles, the District Commissioner. The first prize was won by Edward Asafu-Adjaye, a pupil in Form VI and the second by Henry Ackah Mensah, a pupil in Form II.

The students began putting their skills at the disposal of their alma mater. Edward Asafu Adjaye offered to teach the junior students for gratis again on 14th February 1921 at a time when S. H. Brew has joined the staff. Asafu-Adjaye later resigned and was replaced by George Amonoo; C. F. Hayfron-Benjamin also resigned his appointment and was replaced by Fitzgerald Kweku Amissah, ex-pupil of Form Six, as Assistant Teacher. The School then had all African staff: Rev. Hutton-Mensah, Principal, Rev. O. M. Renner, Headmaster, Mr S. H. Brew, Assistant Headmaster; and with the following as teachers: A. W. E. Appiah, Ambrocius M. Asare, F. Laing and F. K. Amissah and S. G. Amissah. It was under their tenure that on 15th April 1921, Cambridge Examination results was released. Out of the 18 students that sat, 16 passed. The October COP Examination was also favourable; out of 20 students who sat, 19 passed.

3.3   Adisadel Records and the First Death of a Teacher and S. R. S. Nicholas Arrives

The successes of the students made His Lordship the Bishop visit the school for a second time in the early 1922. Eight new boys came to join the school on 3rd March 1922. For this reason, an additional teacher was added to teach Latin. For the second time, the student marched to the Victoria Park on 23rd March to meet H. E. Governor Guggisberg and his wife, Lady Guggisberg who presented cups to the winners in the Football and cricket competition. Three months later, the most devoted member of the staff, Mr. S. H. Brew died on 5th June 1922 and a holiday was declared. The following day, the students attended Mr. Brew`s funeral and another holiday was given. It was after Brew`s death and Mr. Renner`s intention to travel to visit his family in Sierra Leone that led to recalling of Stephen Richard Seaton Nicholas, B.A (Durham), from Sierra Leone by the Archbishop to the school. Nicholas arrived on the campus on 11th September 1922 and was introduced to the school on the following day. A day after, he addressed the students whilst Renner was already on his way to Sierra Leone.

Nicholas, a Cape Coast native and an intellectual firebrand brought dynamism into the semi-lethargic teaching staff. He was discovered by Bishop O’Rorke, who had high hopes for him and became an integral part of O’Rorke’s development strategy for the diocese. This was the reason for the education he received at Fourah Bay College, which was an offshore intellectual incubation centre of the University of Durham, England. Immediately after his arrival, Nicholas worked hard and was appointed on 24th April 1924 as the Acting Headmaster. Rev. Renner was transferred to Tarkwa, and Anthony Tekyi Mensah, ex Form V pupil of the school was also appointed as a Temporary Teacher. SRS Nicholas, however, headed the school for the first time on 10th October 1924.

3.4   St Nicholas Grammar School is born

Principal Nicholas`s assumption of duties was soon to be followed by the appointment of Right Reverend John Orfeur Aglionby, M.C., D.D. He arrived in 1924 to succeed Bishop O’Rorke as the third Bishop of Accra. All this happened at the time when SPG Secondary School had become a fully-fledged Government Assisted School. The Government had accepted to make a yearly grant not exceeding forty percentage of the total of salaries of the staff.  The new Bishop, Aglionby, in tandem with canonising names of Anglican infrastructures, rechristened the SPG Grammar School as ‘St. Nicholas’ Grammar School’. Thus, on 21st September 1926, the Education Department of the Gold Coast started to refer to SPG Grammar School as St Nicholas Grammar School.

As it occurs occasionally, there was staff ding-dong affairs at the school. Ambrocius M. Asare transferred from Adisadel to the St Augustine’s College in Kumasi on 31 July 1925, which enabled the recruitment of two new teachers, D. Jackson Davies, and Ebenezer Laing to join the teaching staff on 25 January 1925. In August C. A. Ackah, who hold Cambridge certificate joins the teaching staff. On 28th January 1927, Anthony Takyi Mensah resign from his teaching appointment and was replaced later by J. K. Acquah. J. L. L. Alleyne was recruited to become the Vice Principal to S. R. S. Nicholas on 16th August 1927. The next year, F. K. Amissah and J. K. Acquah resigned their positions on 26th January 1928. This paved the way for J. F. Gyebi to join the teaching staff on 10th May 1928.  Amid all this, Robert Fisher who had given his all to the school paid his farewell visit to the school and gave a memorable farewell speech to the students on 31 May 1928. Nicholas` number two man, Allyne also resigned his position upon the request of the Archdeacon of Accra on 28th June 1928 to take up the post of Post Provincial Inspector of Schools at Cape Coast. This enabled both Mr. Henry Tekyi Mensah and Acquah to be appointed as Masters of the School. On October 29, Rev Father G. H. Darku joined the staff owning to the death of Mr George Amissah. The school was granted holiday.

On 4th February 1929, Rev. Father Alan John Knight was appointed as the Principal of the School and S. R. S. Nicholas became his Vice principal. The following day after his appointment, Rt. Rev. Nathaniel Temple Hamlyn, founder of the School died in England and a solemn Requiem Mass was sung on the morning around 6:30 at the Christ Church. The School attended the Service and it was not opened until 8-15 a.m. Knight`s tenure as the Principal saw the Rev. Father Hutton Mensah re-joining the school staff as part time teacheron 12th July 1929. In the Cambridge Examination of that year, the school recorded its first major waterloo in exams. None of the seniors who sat for the exams passed their papers, but the juniors did well. Those who passed were H K Prempeh, Komla Gbedemah, S R Otoo, C Ackah, S. S. Acquah, C. Benson, S. Nelson, and J. N. Ocquaye.

3.5   Celebrity Visitations

In the period of 1920-1930, the school welcomed celebrated dignitaries to grace their occasions. In the early 1920`s, Lawyer Peter Awoonor Renner visited the School to address the students on the need for working hard to achieve successes. This was followed by Mr. J. Spio Garbrah, the newly appointed Ag. Provincial Inspector of Schools. Mr. E. Sagoe and Father Sugget, Archdeacon of Sekondi also came to address the students to motivate and to offer them spiritual support on in 1926. But the most important visitation was the 24th of November 1924 second visit of James Kwegyir Aggrey (Aggrey of Africa) to the school where he expressed his likeness for ‘the house system used by the school’, and this how he felt the system ‘encouraged the social side of the boys’.

On his third and fourth visits to the school on 16th and 26th June 1925, Aggrey wrote in the Adisadel School’s Logbook as follows:

I visited the school and was favourably impressed with the enthusiasm in their work and the high ideal set before the pupils by the Principal Mr. Nicholas. I addressed the entire school. The audience listened intently and gave enthusiastic response to the messages on the advantages and responsibilities. I am very much encouraged.

On a second visit to the school on 27th August 1926, Aggrey again wrote in the Logbook, “favourably impressed with esprit de corps of the place and especially the emphasis being laid on character and service to country.” As elucidated by Pobee (2010: 122) such an extraordinary testimonial from a celebrated and world-class educationist cannot be ignored, for Aggrey rightly observed that the school was making progress in the right direction, since its foundation in 1910. At that time the school had experienced ten years of progress in terms of the commitment of staff, vision and patriotism and character. The esprit de corps which has otherwise been touted as characteristic of Adisadel, reaches far back in the story of Adisadel (Pobee, 2010:122).

The final visit of the period was made by the famous Gold Coast Judge, Edward Woolhouse Bannerman on 18th December 1929. After dressing the students, Judge Bannerman distributed prizes to them before school closed on 28th December of that year.

Adisadel and Sports

During this period, the school continued to participate in all sporting activities in the Colony. On 27th September 1921, the school played a football match with the West African School of Music and Commerce which ended in a draw, but the school won the game when the tie was replayed. The school went on to play another football match with the Cape Coast based Everton Football Club which ended in a draw on 15th September 1923, but Everton won the match when the tie was replayed. However, the fame of Adisadel in the athletics first echoed through all the four corners of the City of Beautiful Nonsense (an accolade for Cape Coast) on 30th September 1923. On that day, Adisadel won the Cross-Country Race that started from the Castle, Victoria Street, Elmina Road, Jukwaa Road, Aboom, Kotokoraba, Ashanti Road, Intsin Street, and Government Road and back to Castle. The champion of the day was, S. R. Attoh Ahumah, who won the race in just 20 minutes.

The decade of 1920-1930 ended with Aglionby-Knight and Nicholas` collaboration for modernising the school. Nicholas used his Cape Coast connections to arrange with the Ebiradze Royal family for the plot of land on which Adisadel was later built in 1933 – 36 as the permanent resting place of the School. On 6th July 1929, the students begun to clear the road to the new school site at Adisadel. At the time, the family of the late Rev. Philip Quaque, had made a strong case for a retention of the spelling “QUAQUE”. The Houses to be built were to be named HAMLYN, QUAQUE, and ELLIOT.