Calcutta Boys' School

0332265-1531, 0332265-0385
033 2265-6283
Calcutta Boys' School, 72, S.N. Banerjee Road, Kolkata, West Bengal, India - 700014
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About Calcutta Boys' School

Calcutta Boys' School was founded by the Rev. James Mills Thoburn (Methodist Missionary to India, and later Missionary Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church), and was opened in 1877. It was endowed by the late Robert Laidlaw and others interested in the education of the sons of the Anglo-Indian and domiciled European community.[1]

The origins of CBS are closely linked with the establishment of the Methodist Episcopal Church in India. In January 1873, the Reverend William Taylor founded the work of the Thoburn Methodist Episcopal Church in Calcutta (Kolkata).[1] He was succeeded by the Reverend James Mills Thoburn. The latter's ardent preaching soon rendered the Entally Baptist Chapel unable to cope with the increasing number of converts.[2] In February 1874, a new chapel was opened at 145 Dharamtolla Street, built at a cost of 16,000 rupees largely due to the generosity of George Bowen of Bombay who donated 10,000 rupees.[3] Soon even this chapel proved unable to accommodate the growing congregation, until a larger church was constructed on Dharamtolla Street, where it stands today. The New Thoburn Church was dedicated on December 31, 1875. In 1888 Rev. James Mills Thoburn was elected Missionary Bishop of India & Malaysia - the first ever Missionary Bishop in India.[2]

Bishop James M Thoburn

It was Bishop Thoburn who founded the Calcutta Boys' School. First located at Mott Lane, and then later housed in a room on Corporation Street (known as S. N. Banerjee Road today), the school struggled for survival without a building of its own. It acquired a permanent residence in 1893 thanks to the generosity of a man who could be regarded as the chief patron of the school: Sir Robert Laidlaw


Sir Robert Laidlaw

The Girls School was erected in 1886, during the principalship of Miss Hendrick.[4]

1930s to Present

The school struggled for finances in its early years, and was on the verge of closing down during the Great Depression. It was Principal Horace Christopher Fritchley who then took over the reins and saw the school through the turbulent thirties and forties that saw the Depression, the Second World War, Independence and Partition. He did away with the system of prizes on Sports Day, inculcating the value of love for sport and (at a greater level) one's work in life without considering monetary and other benefits.


Horace Fritchley and his wife

Fritchley was succeeded by his son-in-law Clifford Hicks in 1952. Hicks consolidated the school in terms of its academic performance, and introduced a system of strict discipline (in today's terms, sadistic child abuse)in consonance with his now legendary motto: "Two yards outside the school gates the jungle begins" ("cult-speak" for brainwashing). Later nominated a Member of the Legislative Assembly, Hicks believed that the guardians of the students were required to be interviewed more rigorously than the students themselves, and during his tenure, this principle was adhered to (until he was ousted from his position in the mid to late '70's).

During Clifford Hicks' time as principal the newest of the three buildings that currently house the school was built. Named the "Fritchley Building" the construction was made possible by the retirement benefit & gratuity of Mr. Horace Christopher Fritchley which he very generously donated to "his very dear CBS" together with donations collected by the students of the school.[1] The school library (now housed in the old dormitory) is named "The Clifford Hicks Memorial Library". The CBS Archives (established in 2008) are also housed in the Library.


New Building and Renfrew House

During Alfred Martin's tenure the school changed from Senior Cambridge to the ICSE and ISC system affiliated to the Indian Council of Secondary Education. Throughout the 1980s, students ranked prominently in the ICSE and ISC rankings. Unlike the Hicks era, Martin encouraged students to participate in co-curricular activities such as debating and quizzing. The school developed a debating society and a quiz club, which during the 1980s swept most of the inter-school meets.

Calcutta Boys' School also did well in the British Council One Act Play competitions during the late 1970s and the early 1980s. Teachers like Mr Joseph Kodaikanal, Eric Warrier, Lawrence W. Hartnett (now the principal of a major school in Dubai after serving as principal of Assembly of God Church School), Sujata Goswami and Guy Dantes raised the standard of English teaching.

Possibly the biggest contribution during the Martin era was the school's strength in the mathematics and science faculties. Teachers like Mr S.K. Deb, S. Biswas, Gautam Mitra(considered a maths genius by many), Biswapati Chaudhari and B.K. Saha had great influence over the shaping of students in this period. As did senior science teachers like D.N. Bhattacharya , A.G. Pal ; 2nd language teachers like Mr Ganguly, Mr Singh;Primary school teachers like Mrs Gupta , Mrs Zaffer , and Mr Biswas- all stalwarts of contemporary school teaching in Calcutta (Kolkata) as well as the country. In fact the old boys of CBS have initiated a rolling trophy " The Mr Gautam Mitra Memorial Shield for Excellence in Mathematics " to be awarded each year to the student scoring the highest marks in Mathematics in the ICSE.

Calcutta Boys' School attends other schools fests and stages its own, called 'Concord'.


The main building in 1893

Gilbert Samuel, who became Principal in 1997, furthered the cause of co-curricular activities, allowing the students of CBS to secure top positions at premier National and International contests regularly, including a second place finish at the 2003 Biology Olympiad and the International Infomatics Olympiad in 2004.[5] In 2005 CBS won the under 16 national cricket tournament, and in 2004 the national rounds of the Inter School Frank Antony Memorial Debate.[6]

The present Principal, Raja McGee (also the youngest Principal ever), has introduced an elected Students council called the United Students Organization (USO). A 3-day language festival "Lingua Fiesta" and a Computers, Science and Mathematics festival COSMA have also been introduced since 2007.Under his leadership CBS has established two branch schools, at Sonarpur in 2008 and at Beliaghata in 2010.

A new block is proposed to be built (as an annxe)behind the Main building. Furnished with an elevator and state of the art facilities,this new block will house a well equipped cafeteria, a gymnasium and a computer lab (for the senior students)together with a set of class rooms to accommodate a third section for all classes. Construction of this new block will commence in November 2011.


The House system was introduced in CBS in 1916. The four houses into which the students are divided on admission to the school are named after those who made the most contribution to the school - Thoburn for red, Warne for gold, Henderson (previously christened Pritchard) for blue and Laidlaw for green.

House events are held such as the Lingua Fiesta, the Football/Cricket Tournaments, the COSMA and the Annual Athletic Meet in the month of December. The house that emerges victorious at the end of the House competition is awarded a trophy.

Each house is assigned a House Master or Mistress that looks after the activities of that House, and ensures a democratic process of selection and nomination for the offices that are associated with the governing of the house.

Student activities

Academic and co-curricular activities are both given importance at Calcutta Boys' School. Awards have been gained from competitions including international olympiads, national and local quizzes, debates, inter-school festivals as well as those won by the students of the school at The Telegraph School of the Year Award, an award given by an English newspaper.

The school has an Interact Club which runs social projects.

Non-competitive activities take place in the school, such as quizzes,debates, plays, Eastern and Western music competitions.

Public events are held, ranging from the annual Suvrojit-Somak Debate, which is organized in memory of two students of the school to the annual inter-school fest, Concord which is today, one of the most well known fests of the city and is the first inter-school fest in the city. This fest, usually held at the Kala Mandir Auditorium in the city, is renowned for its Quiz and the Western Music event.

The School Annual Concert-"Rhapsody" is played out before students and parents.

The awards (for academic excellence and also for extra-curricular activity) are given on the annual "Speech Day". Two prestigious awards instituted in 1897,the Bishop James Mills Thoburn Gold Medal and the Sir Robert Laidlaw Silver medal are awarded during this ceremony to the over-all topper in the Senior School and the Junior School respectively.

The Inter House Athletic Meet-"Panorama" takes place around the month of December, with parents in attendance in addition to most of the school. The lighting of the athletic meet flame and the hoisting of the meet flag followed by the march-past forms the mainstay of the day. The other events in the Meet include floats, relays, and other races, such as the 100m, 200m and 400m.

The Christmas Cantata, a presentation of carols and a nativity play is played at the Thoburn Methodist Church on the second Saturday of December each year.

Lingua Fiesta (Language festival) & COSMA (a computer-science-Maths festival)are major inter-house competitive festivals organized by the school.

Calcutta Boys' School magazine, was first published as the CBS Chronicle in August 1912 and priced one anna eight per annum. Published by the CBS Literary Society since its inception (only with the exception between 1986 and 1988, when it was run wholly by students, without any intervention from the staff), it was christened as "The Pulse" and is published every year.

Several Principals of Calcutta Girls High School including Ms.R.N. Ganakan, Mrs.Montoo Rakhit and Mrs.Beulah Raju have also served as Acting Principals of Calcutta Boys' School at various points in time.


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