Westville Boys' High School

Westville Boys' High School, often referred to as WBHS or "boys high" is a Semi-private high school for boys located in Westville, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Westville Boys' High School
26 Wandsbeck Road


South Africa
Typesemi-private school, boys
MottoIncepto Ne Desistam
HeadmasterGraham Steele
Exam boardKZN Education Dept.
Number of students1300 boys
School color(s)          Red and Blue
Pupil-teacher ratio25:1

Early history

2015 marked the 60th anniversary of WBHS as a high school. The roots of the school can be traced back to 1861, when German immigrant farmers operated a school from a nine by four-metre wattle and daub structure sited on the main Durban-Pietermaritzburg road. They were the first large group of squatters to populate the area, named after Sir Martin West, the first Lieutenant Governor of Natal.

The next recorded date of a school in Westville was in March 1935 when the Westville Kindergarten School, a private farm school, first opened its doors. Under the guidance of Miss Gladys Carr, the school eventually outgrew the Church Hall used at the time. In 1941 the school was moved to Bernard's House, an old house situated on the present school site. This residence on 6 acres (2.4 ha) of land had been bequeathed by Mr and Mrs Bernard to the people of Westville for educational purposes. It was near this site that the Outspan Tree, which marked the first overnight stop for the old ox wagons travailing to the interior, once stood. The Outspan Tree today forms part of the WBHS badge.

By 1944 the admissions roll had increased to 66 pupils. The following year the co-educational Westville Government School opened as a provincial institution and operated at primary level until 1955. In 1949, Bernard's House was demolished to make way for the new school buildings which were opened in January 1950. The year 2000 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of these buildings that today form the inner quadrangle of the school. A ceremony was held in recognition of the contribution made by the Bernard family, and a memorial in their honour was erected on the site of the original farmhouse.

Birth of a high school

Secondary education at Westville can be traced back to 1955 when a group of 21 pupils formed the first Standard Seven (Grade Nine) class of the then Westville High School. The secondary school initially co-existed with the infant and primary classes but by 1961 the last of those classes were accommodated in separate institutions.

In 1963 work on the building of a new Westville Girls' High School commenced and at the end of 1964, the split into the boys' and the girls' high schools was completed. The Headmaster who laid the foundation and guided the school into full secondary status was N. W. Bowden (1955–1963). The main sports field bears his name.

A number of projects aimed at developing the school physically were initiated between 1961 and 1963. In 1961 work on what was later to be called Commons Field began and a pavilion and scoreboard were erected on Bowdens field. Work commenced on the school hall in 1962. In 1963 the three-story complex overlooking the tennis courts was started and this was the beginning of a building program which developed over the next ten years. H. Commons became the Headmaster in 1964, the year in which the school split into two single-sex schools. Mr Commons' years as Headmaster ended when he was promoted to the Headmastership of Maritzburg College.

July 1966 saw the arrival of D. C. Thompson as the Headmaster. For three years in succession, 1968–1970, and again in 1972, WBHS provided the top pupil in the Natal education Department's matriculation examination. Thompson adopted a new focus on extramural activities, as he said: "The essential thing is that every boy in the school should do something in and for the school, and, in giving unselfishly of himself, should contribute to the growth of that corporate spirit that is so prominent a feature of the alive school."

C. D. Harcourt (1971–1973), P. C. Doyle (1975–1983), R. W. Couzens (1983–1989) and K. Elliott (1990), each served subsequently as Headmaster


The emblem of the WBHS badge is a shield, quartered by the red cross of St. George. In the upper left-hand quarter is the griffin taken from the coat of arms of Martin West, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Natal, after whom Westville is named. In legend, griffins are portrayed with a lion's body, an eagle's head, long ears, and an eagle's claws, to indicate that the student should combine intelligence with strength. The upper right and lower left divisions contain the Book of Knowledge and the Lamp of learning respectively. Represented in the lower right quarter is the historic monument, the Outspan Tree, which is in Jan Hofmeyr Road, where the ox-wagons made their first stop after leaving Durban.


Westville Boys' High School's motto Incepto Ne Desistam is taken directly from Virgil. These words, found in Aeneid, Book 1, are used by Juno, queen of heaven who hated the Trojans led by Aeneas. When she saw the fleet of Aeneas on its way to Italy, after the sack of Troy by the Greeks, she planned to scatter it by means of strong winds. In her determination to accomplish her task she cried out "Incepto Ne Desistam" – "May I not shrink from my purpose!"

Matric song

Each year at speech night and prize giving the matriculating class sings Forty Years On. The song, which is the main school song of Harrow School in the United Kingdom, is sung at several schools around the world. The lyrics of the song reflect on what it will be like for members of the matriculating class to visit their old school again in forty years time. The song was introduced to WBHS by Mr T. Brown, a former Senior Deputy Headmaster of the school. The only other school in South Africa which sings this song is Pretoria Boys High School.


The houses are named after people or symbols related to the history of the school:

  • Bernard – created in 2004 and named after the family that donated the property on which the school stands.
  • Carr – created in 1947 during the existence of the Westville Government School, and named after Mrs Gladys Carr, founder of the first school in Westville. Carr is represented by the colour green.
  • Cliff – created in 1950 and named after Mr P.K. Cliff, Inspector of Schools and friend of the school. Cliff is represented by the colour blue.
  • Hofmeyer – created in 1978 and named after Jan Hofmeyr, the celebrated Member of Parliament. Jan Hofmeyr Road lies adjacent to Bowden's Field. Hofmeyer is represented by the colour yellow.
  • Outspan – created in 2004 and named after the Outspan Tree that appears on the school badge.
  • Swain – created in 1957 and named after Mr C.E. Swain, a staff member and sportsman. Swain is represented by the colour red.
  • Wandsbeck – created in 1947 and named after the farm on which the school stands. Wandsbeck is represented by the colour orange.
  • West – created in 1978 and named after Martin West, after whom the Borough of Westville was named. West is represented by the colour black.

Modern times

E. W. Maddams (1991–1997) took over the school during a period of political uncertainty. 1991 heralded the introduction of Model B status and the school was permitted to open its doors to pupils of all races, which it did at the beginning of the 1991 school year. In August 1992, as a result of a majority vote by the parents, the school changed to Model C. This brought about additional financial burdens on the parent body but did give them more say in the development of the school.

Other developments during this time included the Ted Maddams Media Centre and the modernisation and expansion of the computer facilities. Ted Maddams retired as Headmaster in 1997.

In 1998 Trevor Hall became the first WBHS Old Boy to be appointed Headmaster of the school. The first major developments under Mr Hall's leadership have been the development of an upper level of Bowden's Pavilion, which has provided a domicile for the Westville Boys' High School Association, and the introduction of the integrated timetable and Sports Academy.

In 2002 the launch of the Sports Academy introduced a new programme for all pupils in the school to participate in sports. The main feature of the school's new approach to sport was the integration of sport into the daily curriculum, in addition to the traditional team practices that occur at the end of each school day. The integrated sports time table has improved results in swimming, athletics, squash, cricket and rugby, among other sports.

One of the most significant recent development at the school has been the opening of the R6.5 million multi-purpose centre. The facility caters for school assemblies, timetabled sport, afternoon sports practices, indoor field hockey, tennis and four cricket nets (two for bowling and the other two have bowling machines), choir festivals, dramatic productions, a gymnasium and offices. The preferred site was the area where the swimming pool is currently situated, but costs in relocating the pool were prohibitive. Consequently, the centre was built on the site of the old tennis courts adjacent to Commons Field.

A further development was the construction of a hockey astroturf, which is a shared facility of WBHS, Westville Girls' High School and Westville Senior Primary School, located on the premises of Westville Girls' High School. In 2013 work was concluded on a new aquatic centre, which includes two swimming pools, the Chad Ho pool and the Chad le Clos pool.


In the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education matric exams each year WBHS students often feature amongst the top performers provincially and nationally. Of the 58 classes that have matriculated from WBHS since 1959, six WBHS students have emerged as the top students in the province and in 1999, the Dux of the school, Colin Bigg, achieved the top matric results in South Africa.[1] In 1999 WBHS was also rated the best state-aided school in the country in a survey by the Sunday Times newspaper, and again in 2009 was ranked in the top 10 list of schools in South Africa for Maths and Science.[2]

Following the 2006 matric examinations, WBHS was admitted to an elite group of only 13 schools in South Africa that achieved more than 100 passes for maths on the Higher Grade. It is the only school in KZN province to win this accolade. Following the 2008 matric examinations, two learners from WBHS were placed first and second in the province respectively. As of the 2010 matric examinations, Westville Boys grabbed 3 places in the top 10 of KZN, gaining a placement of 2nd, 5th and 9th in KZN. The 2013 Dux of school featured the top matric results in the province and was placed first in the country among quintile five schools being the second pupil from the school to do so. Following the 2016 examinations, Westville learners were placed 4th, 5th and 8th in the province.[3]

Notable alumni


  1. "Top pupil Colin 'only a bit surprised'". Durban: IOL News. 27 December 1999. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  2. "Secret to success". The Witness. Durban. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  3. "Three WBHS matrics in the top 10 in KZN". Highway Mail. Durban. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  4. "Cricket". Westville Boys' High School. Retrieved 22 October 2019.

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