A Brief History of Railway School, Perambur
Railway Mixed Higher Secondary School, Perambur, was established in 1891 as a Primary School consisting of European, Anglo-Indian and Indian Students mixed together. Hence it was named Railway Mixed School. The school was recognized vide office proceedings letter no. nil -, dated 1.08.1891 under the then Madras Presidency. It was started exclusively for employees of the Indian Railways. With the increase in the strength of students it became a Middle School in 1941 and subsequently a High School. It was upgraded into a Higher Secondary School in November 1978.
This 125 year old school(1891-2016) is one of the oldest, biggest and most renowned schools in the Indian Railways, due to the high quality education imparted and the excellent academic results produced. The school also excels in other activities like sports, scouts and guides, and other cultural activities. Generally cent per cent results are produced especially in the higher secondary section.
Initially, Railway Schools were classified as Anglo-Indian and European Schools and started in the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay.
Up to 1947, the schools were inspected by the European Officials (called Government Inspectors), who recorded their comments, appreciation and ideas for improvement in specific visitors’ books which were available from 1916 onwards. After Independence, this was taken over by the Inspectors of Schools, which is followed even today, in its modified form. Railway School, in earlier times, was quiet renowned for promoting activities like Scouts & Guides and Sports & Games. Ms. Day, the First Headmistress of the High School section was well known for her activities in the Guides section and for conducting training camps for the Guides and Bulbuls, even after she retired.
One of the former Physical Training Instructors of the school, Mr. Baby Thomas, was a former 100m National and Asian Games Champion. The former Deputy CPO (in-charge of Madras Division Schools), Ms. Anusuya Bai, is also a National Commonwealth and Asian Games Champion in 100m, 400m. Discus and Chess was also one of the activities promoted. The great Vishwanathan Anand, is the son of a former General Manager of Southern Railway.
Music was also an integral part of the curriculum according to the rules for Railway Schools (General) 1941. A grand old piano (like the barrel organ like the ones found in the old churches), was installed in the school. Till the 70’s it was handled by the music teacher Ms.Mavis Menezes, and children were taught to sing and tap their feet to the musical rhythms. This ancient piano could be seen up to 1998 after which it disappeared from view as there were no music teachers appointed after the retirement of the previous teachers.
The facade of the Railway School is typically 19th century architecture with bay windows and a belfry which can also be seen in some of the other ancient schools. The bell could be heard up to 15 years ago, when the rope snapped due to incessant rains. It still rings if one could climb to the top. Some parts of the roof and walls collapsed and repairs were undertaken. But the administration saw it fit to keep the external framework intact as it is a Heritage Building, of 125 years. In a photography contest conducted in 2008, the student who won the First prize captured a beautiful picture of the front building in all its ancient glory and this photograph adorns the cover page of our school magazine for the year 2007-2008.
Many former students of past fifty years or above who are now scattered in U.K., U.S.A., Canada, Australia, and other countries, never fail to visit Railway School when they come back and are thrilled to take back with them photographs of this ancient heritage as mementos of the past.
In addition to all this, railway school has produced many doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists and top executives in the corporate world, who are scattered in various places, both in India and abroad.
In 2014, an enthusiastic batch of old students got together and formed the Alumini Association named ROSA (Railway school Old Students Association). They have been instrumental in bringing together so many past pupils and are also contributing to some of the welfare activities in the school including scholarships to deserving students. The idea of having a grand Quasui Centennial Celebration (125 years) was mooted by them. They represented the same to the Divisional Railway Manager Shri Naveen Gulati, who extended his whole hearted support and also ensured that the entire school and its peripherals were given a complete facelift. It is indeed a proud moment for all involved, to see this wonderful organization, that has stood the test of time, and retained its glorious splendor of the past.