Wood House


 

Student Assistants:   

Thandile Dukashe
Jonathan Braans
Nicholas Moorcroft 


Click here for a printable version of the Wood House Information Booklet.


Click here for the latest Wood Housemaster's Newsletter 

 

The History of Wood House

This House, by virtue of the fact that it once housed Stanton's Wagon Store, was on Burton Street long before the idea of establishing a Boys School was born. It is therefore the oldest building on the original Kingswood campus. It was built initially only of Grahamstown Blue Stone and was only a single storey building.

During the years of the Anglo Boer War, Kingswood experienced an unexpected demand for boarding facilities. The school grew from 51 to 95 boarders in less than three years and as School House was designed for 80 boarders, the need for expansion was obvious. The College Council took the decision to build a new boarding house (now Jagger) on 3 July 1902. Then James Stanton died and his business closed. Restall Stocks, one of the Kingswood Trustees, takes up the story. "There were men on the (College) Council who realised that this property could be turned to the advantage of the College Preparatory Department, as well as a College Hostel." The Council stalled the scheme of building the new boarding house for a year and purchased the Stanton property. "Builders were called in. The archways leading into the workshops were built up, doors and windows were fitted and the fine classrooms thus formed were fitted up making a commodious and convenient school for the Prep. The remainder of the building was then successfully altered, and an additional floor added in which dormitories and bathroom accommodation, a Library and Housemaster's quarters, etc were housed."

"At the time of these alterations there was a scarcity of labour and owing to the War, bricks were at a price and almost unobtainable. Fortunately for the College, Rhodes was developing, and a large Military building was to be demolished. It was found to be a first class building .... Kingswood Council decided to purchase the building and use the bricks ... the transaction (proved) a great saving to the College." What a story those bricks could tell of Regiments like the Berkshires and others who were stationed in Grahamstown for duty on this South Eastern Frontier!

That's how Stanton's Wagon Store (if you look hard at the outside of the building where the ivy allows - you will still see very faintly some of the name upon the stonework above the corner window) came into the community, but how did it get its name?

Photo: THEN and NOW

Wood House

 

It is named after the man who was elected Chairman at a meeting when the first Trust Deed of the College was notarially executed on 20 August 1895 - Henry Richard Wood. He was born in 1838 and was the fourth son born to the Hon George and Mrs Wood. A merchant in the town, he was a very public spirited man. He served for twenty eight years on the Town Council from 1892 and was four times Mayor. When his brother, John Edwin, whose name is on one of the foundation stones of School House, returned from the Legislative Assembly, he was elected to take his place and served there between 1902 and 1907. Chairman also of the E.P. Guardian and Loan Investment Company, he was also a Life Governor of the Grahamstown Fine Arts Association, Honorary Treasurer of the Albany Museum and, besides chairing the Kingswood Council for 26 years, he was also on the Board of W.H.S . A great churchman, he was Superintendent of the West Hill Wesleyan Church Sunday School for 45 years and held office as Circuit Steward and, as a District Synod official, represented Grahamstown Methodism at the Annual Conference. He was also Deputy Sheriff for Albany and a member of Rhodes University Council. Obviously a "people person", he seems nevertheless to have been very conservative in his approach as after Union he vigorously opposed the implementation of the Provincial Council system because he feared that it would curtail and undermine the powers of local authority. With hindsight wisdom, one might comment that he was not so much conservative in outlook, but far-sighted - since the implementation of the Provincial System did, as we have so often seen, curtail the powers of local Government.

For a man who was elected to lead the Kingswood venture - he was obviously well equipped, and it is no surprise that ultimately his fellow Councillors and the Kingswood community commemorated his service by naming the House in his honour on 21 February 1921. He died in that same year.

H.F. KIRKBY

NOTE: Information for this article came from :
Miss M.D. (Boy) Wood, daughter of H.R. Wood.
Notes on the different Mayors of Grahamstown submitted by the City Council to the Settlers Museum
Memoirs of Restall Stocks and all else from either
College Council Minutes 
College Magazines.

Wood House

 


 
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