History of ACS
Founding and The Early Years
The Anglo-Chinese School was founded on 1st March 1886 by Bishop William F Oldham. With a humble beginning of 13 pupils in a small shophouse at 70 Amoy Street, the school increased its population to 104 the following year and had to move to a building in Coleman Street, where the first Methodist Chapel had already been established. The Methodist Chapel served as the School Chapel while the school building housed the missionaries and young boarders. The Mission subsequently purchased “Bellevue” in Orchard Road and moved the boarders there in 1888. The boarding house was renamed “Oldham Hall” in 1896.
Though then fairly young, the Anglo-Chinese School was soon known for its significant achievements. The School was so successful in the Government Examinations that it qualified for a regular Government grant. H A D Moore in 1894 and Robert Hoisington in 1897 won the coveted Queen’s Scholarship. In later years, the school was able to boast of a good number of Queen’s Scholars, Queen’s Fellows and State Scholars.
The First World War marked an era of intense activity under the able leadership of Rev J S Nagle, who was principal from 1914 to 1922. A man of great foresight, Nagle was commissioned by Bishop Oldham to build an institution of higher learning. He thus formed the Post Cambridge Class in 1914. This, he hoped, would be the beginning of the Anglo-Chinese College. However, the project was abandoned as the Government was planning to build Raffles College as a centenary memorial.
The School continued to make considerable progress in many areas. Nagle was responsible for reintroducing religious education as part of the curriculum in the School. The moral and spiritual well-being of the pupils was fostered through the chapel services. The physical development of the pupils was not neglected either. Mr Edgar H Rue was appointed Physical Director in 1917 and through his leadership the School won many trophies in inter-school athletics. His good work was continued by the two Sports Secretaries who succeeded him, Mr Yong Ngim Djin (1926 – 1931) and Mr Chan Siew Jiang (1932 – 1951).
The Principal who succeeded Nagle was Rev P L Peach (1922 – 1924). His notable contribution was the setting up of the Continuation School in 1925 for the overaged students who, because of age limits imposed by the Government would otherwise not have had a school to go to. The Anglo-Chinese Continuation School was later renamed the Oldham Methodist School. The Rev Peach’s other significant project was to build a secondary school at Cairnhill. This task was completed by his successor the Rev A B McNab (1925 – 1929). The School continued to excel in every field of endeavour.
The Old Boys Association was reorganised in 1924 and immediately made its influence felt. It had served and continues to serve today as the rallying force for the School and Old Boys who continually express their loyalty and support for their Alma Mater.
In the 1930s and 1940s, ACS underwent a period of consolidation and achievement. The Principal during this period was Mr T W Hinch (1929 – 1947), under whose leadership the School achieved great successes in every aspect of school life. Academically, a very high standard was maintained and this was reflected in the annual Cambridge Examinations. In the field of athletics and sports, the introduction of the House System in 1930 was a great incentive. The Houses were named after Bishop Thoburn, Bishop Oldham, the Rev Goh Hood Keng, Mr Tan Kah Kee and Mr Cheong Koon Seng, all of whom showed a keen interest in the School.
What is today known as the ACS spirit, that intangible force that binds all ACSians together and helps the school to achieve success in all fields of endeavour, first took root at this time as well. Mr Hinch, in an attempt to instil greater interest in extra-curricular activities, encouraged the formation of School Societies and Clubs for Geography, History, Photography and Art. Extra-Curricular activities were indispensable in fostering sprit de corps and therefore developing the ACS Spirit. It was in this spirit that expansion plans were made for building the school at Barker Road.
In 1952, Dr Thio Chan Bee, an Old Boy of the School, became its first Asian principal. On 7th January 1955, ACS became the first Methodist school to have a Board of Governors. With the formation of the Board, the Old Boys were able to provide even better service to the school as the Board comprised representatives of the Methodist Church, the ACS OBA and the School.
While the expansion programme for the secondary school was under way, changes were being made at the Coleman Street site and all primary school classes were shifted to the new building in 1957.
ACS Moves to Barker Road
With his appointment as principal in 1947, Dr Herbert H Peterson embarked on an ambitious campaign to relocate the school from Cairnhill to a new campus at Barker Road, a dream that became reality on 29 September 1950.
Another period of expansion followed with the establishment of the Lee Kong Chian Building to accommodate new Science laboratories and a library. The building was declared open in 1960. After the Anglo-Chinese Junior College’s establishment in 1977, the Lee Kong Chian Building was occupied by the expanding number of classes in the secondary level and became known as the “Lee Block”.
Yet more expansion soon became necessary with the great demand for places and an increased intake of students. In 1960, with the money obtained from two fund-raising projects under Mr Lee Hah Ing, a new storey to the Middle Block of the School was added. This comprised the Haw Par Art Room, the Nagle Library and the AVA Room. In addition to the expansion project, Mr Lee Hah Ing’s term of office as Principal also saw the initiation of the Methodist Schools Festival of Sports which took place in Singapore (1966), in Ipoh (1967), in Kuala Lumpur (1968), in Penang (1969) and after a long interval was revived to celebrate the School’s centenary in 1986. The Festival of Sports fostered friendship and goodwill through competition and sports. Mr Lee also instituted the School’s Prefectorial Board. During this time also, technical workshops were instituted for Secondary One and Secondary Two students.
With funds raised in the Fun-O-Rama held in 1968, a Sports Complex was built and officially opened in 1970. ACS became the first school in Singapore to have its own swimming pool.
The Founding of ACJC
In 1970, Mr Chee Keng Lim took over from Mr Lee Hah Ing as principal of the secondary school on the latter’s retirement. The School’s enrolment saw an increase from 2090 in 1970 to 2445 in 1976. The number of classes rose from 52 to 59, including 7 Pre-U One classes and 6 Pre-U Two classes.
With the Singapore Government’s move to encourage the building of junior colleges, the ACS OBA, with the support of the Board of Governors, established the Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) Building Fund. The site at Rochester Park, off Dover Road, was allocated for the building of ACJC. Through several fund-raising drives, more than $5 million was raised. In 1977, ACJC opened its doors to 600 Pre-U One students and the 287 Pre-U Two students who had completed their Pre-U One course at the Barker Road campus.
With the extra classrooms available as a result of the move by the Pre-U students to ACJC, the Secondary School increased its number of classes to include at least 10 classes per level.
In 1985, the Anglo-Chinese Junior School, which had previously been functioning in the same campus as the secondary school in Barker, Road moved to its new premises in Cairnhill in 1985.
ACS (I) Moves to Dover Road
Between the end of 1987 and October 1989, plans were drawn up for the establishment of a new campus for ACS at Dover Road. Several fund-raising campaigns were organised for the School Building Fund and its Endowment Fund.
March 1st 1989 marked the ground-breaking ceremony at the new site at Dover Road. This event was held in conjunction with the annual March 1 Founder’s Day celebrations but this time, as in the 1986 Centennial Celebrations, the event was a joint celebration of all four units of the Anglo-Chinese School.
In January 1992 the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) made its big move to its new campus at Dover Road. The site was officially opened by Dr Richard Hu, Minister of Finance of Singapore, on 1st March, 1993, the 107th anniversary of the school’s founding by Bishop Oldham, and today, the School continues to uphold its fine tradition.
Maintained by ACS (Independent) IT Department