Oak Grove School was the product of coming together of three of the greatest gifts of Nineteenth century -Railways, Hill Station and Public School Culture -all blending harmoniously in this institution. The first Railway hill school was started in 1870s by SP&D Railway later known as North Western Railway at a Bungalow called FAIRLAWN close to the land where Oak Grove is presently situated. It was part of the ‘Rajah’s Palace’ which belonged to the Royal family of Nepal. The ruins of the Palace are still present and part of the estate has been developed for residential purpose.
Oak Grove school was started in 1888 by East India Railway Company with an endowment fund of Rs 2 lac on the recommendations of the School Committee. In the 19th century Companies and Industrial concerns were mainly driven by profit motive and rarely invested in areas of social concern like Educational institutions, which was mainly left to Religious and Philanthropic Institutions. It was therefore quite creditable on the part of EIR to start an institution like Oak Grove, way back in the 1880’s.
The proposal soon took concrete shape and the school started functioning from 1st of June 1888. The Fairlawn school was merged to Oak Grove in 1894 as it could not survive the birth pangs like shortage of staff and accommodation.
The first School building, the present Boys school was designed by Mr. R. Roskell Bayne , the Company’s Chief Architect and built under the supervision of Mr. W. Drysdale the Company’s Engineer. Earliest recorded history of the school mentions the arrival of Matron and Sergant Mrs. and Mr. Green on 9th May 1988 as the first official of the school followed by Head teachers Mrs. and Mr. A. C. Chapman on 19th May, who steered the school through its initial teething problems and set it on the path of stable growth over the period of 24 years, which they spent here.
- 01/06/1888 – 28 boys arrive.
- 23/11/1888 – Building taken over from Distt Engineer Drysdale.
- 09/08/1889 – Rash Behari Ghosh, native doctor arrived at Rs 50 mensem, quarter, fuel etc to work as clerk also.
- 02/06/1890 – Formation of Cadet Company including 12 boys from Fairlawn.
- 07/08/1891 – Munshi appointed to teach Urdu as second language.
- 11/09/1891 – Latin started for class VI to VII.
- 16/10/1891 – Secy to Agent and Chief Engineer during their visit decided to open an infirmary.
Some other reading: Historical Perspective
Please find some interesting reading about OG :Excerpts from a book on Indian Railways:
In 1888 the first portion of the Company’s hill school at Mussoorie was opened. This school which has since proved a great benefit to the Company’s employees, is not intended for the education of the children of servants of the superior grade but for the children of those who, by reason of their position in the service, lack the means of sending them to be educated in England. A more detailed account of the Hill School is given below:
On the purchase of the undertaking by Government on Ist January, 1880, it was, as already explained, found that a sum of over four lakhs of rupees remained at credit of the Saving Bank and Fine Funds; the former representing profits on working and the latter the unexpended accumulations of fines levied from the staff. It was at once recognized that these monies should, if practicable, be devoted to some object for the benefit of the staff, and there was little difficulty in arriving at a unanimous decision, that the best means of securing this object was the provision of a school, in a temperate climate, for the education of the children of the European and Eurasian employees. The Company had already provided and subsidised schools at each of the large stations in the plains, both for the domiciled and the native staff, but there was a demand, on the part of the former class, for the benefits of a Hill climate for their children during the hot season and the question was how this demand could best be met. On the one hand, there were existing scholastic institutions at such of the Hill stations as Darjeeling, Mussoorie, Naini Tal, Murree, and Simla which might have served the purpose, but either the character of endowments, or the scale of fees levied, debarred the larger proportion of the servants of the Company from obtaining the advantage of these schools and it was felt that the only feasible arrangement was to secure a purely railway school, under the absolute control of the principal officers of the Company. The results obtained by the North- Western (State) Railway from an experiment made in this direction at “Fairlawn” near Jhera- pani, a place situated about mid- way between Rajpore and Mussoorie naturally attracted enquiries to that locality, and it happened at this juncture that ” Oakgrove,” a well- wooded and secluded estate, comprising 193 acres of land in the adjoining vicinity, was in the market. This was purchased by the Company for the comparatively small sum of Rs. 30,000 and arrangements were at once made for erecting the requisite buildings. In June 1888, the school was opened with a capacity for 210 pupils, having cost with the estate a sum of Rs. 200,000. The Board having, at the outset, recognized the disabilities under which the staff lay in respect of the scale of fees charged by other available institutions decided to set apart a further sum of Rs. 200,000 as an endowment towards payment of the Teaching Staff, the one object kept permanently in view being that the scale of fees levied should be such that all members of the staff could avail themselves of the benefits of the school. On these grounds the scale was fixed at Rs. 14 for the first child, Ks. 12 for the second and Rs. 10 for the third and other children per mensem, a rate which, apart from the endowment and such grants-in-aid as could be obtained from Government, was obviously inadequate to cover the actual expenditure. This feature of the scheme, though not ventilated by the Committee of Management, was apparently recognized at the commencement by the staff, and many of the better- paid subordinate officers declined to send their children to the school and mainly, it is believed, owing to this fact the numbers of the scholars did not equal the capacity of the school until 1895. At this period applications exceeded the limits, and as there was still a balance of about a lakh of rupees remaining from the funds before mentioned, it was decided to purchase the adjoining ” Jharipani ” estate and build a separate school for girls on the site. This estate, comprising 52 acres of land, contiguous to the “Oakgrove” estate without any intervening boundaries, and on a favourable site on it, a well-built school for girls was erected, capable of accommodating 140 scholars, and opened in the month of April 1897. The total expenditure on the entire school, including the Hospital and Sanitarium, Swimming Bath and Bakery having cost Rs. 500,000 including the endowment.
On the whole, the school has proved an unqualified success, and in 1905 had an average resident attendance of 394 pupils. (There are no day scholars.) The accommodation, although stated generally at 210 in the boys and 140 in the girls’ school, is fully equal to providing for 400 scholars without infringing the Government standard requirements in respect of the space necessary for each scholar unit.
With the advent of the East Indian Railway School at Oakgrove ” the North- western Railway decided to close their adjacent establishment at “Fairlawn” and entered into an arrangement with the East Indian Railway Company : under it they secured the right to send the children of North- western Railway employees to the school, and agreed in view of the fact that it had been erected, equipped and endowed from East Indian Railway sources, to guarantee a minimum sum per annum and the payment of a capitation fee that was mutually agreed upon as fairly representing the actual rate of expenditure unit, the North- Western Railway employees being only charged a sum relative to his salary and the difference made up from the revenue of the North- western Railway. This arrangement has continued up to the present time, and has been found of mutual benefit to the school and the North- Western Railway employ.
With the expiration of the second contract between the Secretary of State for India and the East Indian Railway Company on 31st December 1899, the former secured to Government under the third contract all proprietary rights in the school, but left the control and management of it to the Company.
For some years past, the school attendance has, roughly speaking, been made up of an equal number of East Indian and North- western Railway children, and lately two officers of the North- Western Railway have been, at the instance of the East Indian Railway Board of Directors, added to the list of ex-officio Governors of the school.
The standard of education at the school has been well maintained throughout. The pupils have taken a high place, and on more than one occasion the first place on the Government examination lists for the whole of the United Provinces. The same may also be said of the examinations tor entrance to the Roorkee Engineering College. A large percentage of the ex-pupils have found situations on the parent lines which they represent, and have thus fulfilled the objects for which the school was established. Standing as it does at an elevation of 5,300 feet above sea-level the climate of the school is temperate : the site is salubrious and far from all insanitation, the entire estate being absolutely reserved for the purposes of the school. There is an excellent and pure water-supply flowing directly to the school, through its iron pipes, direct from the Mossy Falls ” springs.
There is a rifle-range and ample room for out-door games, which are marked features of the school course, and a large swimming bath.
In every way the school is simply but thoroughly equipped, and the Institution as a whole and the results obtained from it, form a most gratifying vindication of the impulse which led to its inception and of the expenditure of the large sum of money which it has entailed.
The constant aim of the governing body is not only to conserve, but, wherever possible, to increase, the benefits conferred by the Institution, the most recent addition being the grant by the East Indian Railway and North- Western Railway undertakings of Rs. 5,000 each per annum towards the foundation of scholarships and exhibitions, tenable by the pupils of the school.”