Dear Old Boy

1935 - 1949

To a generation of boys, the second Headmaster was known as 'Garibaldi' soon shortened to simply 'Gari' or more commonly 'Baldi', in reference to his distinctive pate. Daniel Duff Matheson had no kindship with the Italian liberator, however, being Scottish by birth and upbringing. He had served as an assistant master at the School from 1920 - 1924 and came in 1935 from South School, Pretoria to take up the headmastership.

Matheson's style of controlling the School was in stark contrast to that of his predecessor. A short, stocky man, Matheson believed it would be inappropriate to use corporal punishment on boys or young men who might be taller than he. His period as Headmaster was memorable (perhaps even unique in South Africa at the time) for its absence of coercion in making pupils confirm to accepted norms.

In his running of the School and School House, Matheson relied on a system of self discipline that he believed was essential in teaching boys the values they would exercise in adult life. He made it clear that boarders in his house were free to break bounds at night, which took away most of the allure of this pursuit and it became rare. Probably at no other stage of the School's history have pupils been treated more like young adults than during Matheson's years. He justified his approach in the following terms at the Prize Giving ceremony of 1936:

'It seems to me that, as a boy goes through the high school, the external and direct agents of government should be removed in order that the boy may, step by step, reach up to the conception of discipline and social duty - as something which he owes to himself and the community in which he lives and which in the last resort must proceed from himself. The task of the School is thus to reduce the difference between supervised and unsupervised conduct. ... We in South Africa cannot run the risk of producing citizens whose initiative and self reliance have been sapped by repressive discipline in their youth, and I think it is worth running the risk of a few failures if by accustoming boys to a freedom measured by their capacity to use it, we produce fellows who adapt themselves quickly and easily to adult conditions and face life with enterprise and courage.'

That he commanded such respect from his pupils as to make a system of 'self governance' work, is the greatest tribute one can pay him. Much of the middle period of Mr Matheson's time as Headmaster coincided with World War Two, which placed a great administrative and emotional strain on the man. He was also greatly saddened by the changing educational milieu in his last years as Headmaster, which made him an outspoken critic of the segregation, along language lines, of the school population. Outside of education, Matheson's great interest was in golf, of which he became a fine exponent.

Matheson's plans for a preparatory school in the grounds of Boys High were superseded by the war and a change of government, both of which would account for the limited physical expansion of the School in this period. Much of the tone of Boys High, however was set in these three years, the Friday school assembly being instituted by Mr Matheson. After his retirement as Headmaster, he remained at the School as a teacher and thus came to serve under two of his successors, Mr Pollock and Mr Abernethy. He passed away in 1960 after a short illness.

Mr Matheson is commemorated at the School by a fountain, erected at the cricket pavilion in 1960, and recently established Matheson House, a day boy house that bears his name.

John Illsley, Pretoria Boys High School - The Story of a South African School 1901 - 2001

CLASS OF 1988 - 30 YEARS ON 2018

WARNING: reckless humour and banter follow. All references are to real people, places and events, and are fully intentional.

Despite the brooding angst prior to most reunions, it never ceases to amaze me how these trepidations give way to the familiarity and genuine warmth of the event. For the Class of 1988, this 30 Years On, held on 31 August and 1 September, was no exception. It is interesting how significantly the memories from that relatively short period of five years (six for Adrian Nunn, for whom some of the more significant memories involved Mr Wylde with his threat of joining The Mikado cast as an alternative to the real punishment of expulsion), embed themselves in one's mind, able to bridge an increasing timespan now cluttered with the concerns of marriages, families and maturing careers.

Two things were special about the context of this reunion: Mr Illsley, our most-capable host to our Friday morning walk-about, started his career at Boys High in 1988, and shared a number of notable experiences from his slightly-fiery baptismal year (Solomon House features with the fiery bits - it always does - and the risky erection of a zipline in the hall for the effect of some poor member of The Mikado cast crashing into the proscenium arch five meters above the stage; and I hope that his account of 1988 is not the explanation for Mr Reelers's absence that day); and being forty- going on fifty-somethings, many of the Old Boys now have the common fortune of having their own boys presently attending the school (unlike his career as a schoolboy, Adrian Nunn was the first out of the starting blocks in this respect:

his boys having long-since passed through the school - yet somehow, he seems to have impressed himself more on the mind of the current headmaster than his sons - he just keeps coming back).

My son implored me, prior to the reunion assembly, that our guest speaker should not deliver a Boring Speech. This task fell to Dr David Reynders, who tackled it admirably, surprising us with the remarkably-familiar re-invention of his Form III English speech, comparing our lives with a sandwich (this central theme oriented around food was very exciting for the boarders).

As much as it made an impression on me 33 years ago, v2.0 of this lovely speech only benefited from the wisdom and experience of the past three decades, much the same as a good red wine (the delight of the literal description of the sandwich's contents was just a little too much for the Rissik House boarders, which I believe presented somewhat of a barrier to their grasp of the metaphor). For the benefit of our Solomon House readers, I will explain that the obvious gist was that the making of this sandwich was up to our own imaginations and effort with the assistance of the Greatest Kitchen in the World at our disposal, namely, Pretoria Boys High.

I was quite stunned by Andre Barnard's scripture reading, which turned into more of a brief but punchy sermon about being Joshua-like warriors seizing the day with courage in the midst of war and adversity, a fitting message to match the expectation conjured from Andre's lengthy CV of his sporting achievements following school.

And as much as the great hall has marvelously changed, there is a warmth and comfort about the content and format of the assembly that is still the same - from the reading of notices and sporting results, to the singing of hymns and prayers. To our delight, we were also reminded about another thing that hasn't changed: Dimitri Kambourides' unbroken High Jump record of 2.10m set in 1988! The ceremony was well-rounded with a masterful performance of a cello duet performed by an '88 Old Boy, Kendall Reid, and the eye-wateringly-talented Form III boy, Christof Joubert.

The festive lunch that followed, the poignant moments of the Last Post contemplated over a port and the embers of the dying day, were all a delightful precursor to the hearty and boisterous dinner of the Saturday. George Harris (currently on loan from the Class of '88 to Hilton College as Headmaster) delivered a memorable toast to the school, and together with the Headmaster's reply, reminded us both of the great challenges educators and schools currently face, and more incredibly, the fantastic achievements that have been made.

The attendance by the masters is not taken for granted, and for this we thank each of you for making this event whole - some of whom, despite still being on staff, were still willing to face us; others who stubbornly refuse to leave beyond their retirement (Chalky, you're a legend) or who are a constant feature at the Old Boys' club (Mr Obermeyer). We were rather pleased by the attendance of Mr Schroder, who could finally get a taste of what he missed with the Class of '88 (by all accounts though, the feeling is mutual). To Mr Reeler, whichever committee is responsible for decisions about World Peace, Energy Sustainability, Headmasters and other globally important matters, we feel they have made the right decision and placed this remarkable school in good hands: we wish you well, and hope to see you at at least the next two reunions as you build your career and legacy.

It cannot be left unsaid how grateful we are for the attendance of Mr David Wylde, who travelled a great distance to be with us. The Class of '88 was incredibly fortunate to experience the full force of Mr Wylde's six-year tenure at Boys High as deputy headmaster, during which period his impact was indelible, intelligent and significant (particularly for the bottom of Mr Nunn). During my speech, I was able to remind him of his disclaimer during his farewell address in our matric year, when he stated that he was "not a rat deserting a sinking ship": we believed you Mr Wylde: you were a rat and the ship was not sinking!

Lastly, I thank you, the Old Boys of '88, who by your mere presence, travelling from near and (very) far, made this such a beautiful and memorable experience. Memories of past events are important, reflections upon which remind us of who we are, where we came from, guiding as onwards towards the future.

Gavin Ehlers (1988)
(part-time enabler to the most-able Byron Brooker and his organizing committee)


The High Jump team this year remained undefeated. In each meet the team accumulated over 55% of the possible points available. The highlight of the season undoubtedly was Jimmy Kambourides' leap of 2.10m at the Inter-High on Saturday 24 September. Jimmy started the season and broke a 13-year old record by 13cms jumping 2.00m. At Maritzburg he cleared 2.05m and ended the season with a personal best of 2.10m at the Inter-High held at Pretoria Boys High School.

- The Pretorian 1988


We are proud to announce that the Pretoria Boys High School Parents' Association are hosting the Pretoria Boys High School 24hr MTB Relay Challenge from Saturday 10 November to Sunday 11 November 2018 and we would like to invite all Old Boys to to participate.

Held on the school grounds, the route requires riders to complete as many 6 kilometre laps as possible in the 24 or 6 hour race period. Featuring 120 metres of climbing per lap, the route is made up of jeep track, singletracks and sections across the car parks and sport fields of the School. Man-made obstacles provide additional challenges for those with the technical skills to take them on, while A and B lines are provided for each technical feature - allowing the less skilled riders to safely skirt the hazards.

Entry categories include:

  • 24 hour solo race
  • 24 hour relay race for teams of 2, 4, 6 or 8 riders
  • 6 hour solo race
  • 6 hour relay race for teams of 2, 4, 6 or 8 riders
  • 6 hour "schools" relay category for teams of 4 riders

Off the bike there will be a festive atmosphere throughout the event, ensured by food trucks and complimentary camping for all riders and their support teams.

The Parents' Association would also like to offer all Old Boys the opportunity to get involved by becoming a sponsor for the event, knowing that the success of such an event is as a result of the involvement of both riders and sponsors. Sponsors will be given branding / marketing rights for the event. Please email Jamie-Lee Fisher at the school, should you be interested in a sponsorship opportunity: pr@boyshigh.com

A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Operation Healing Hands; a healthcare charity which provides life-changing surgeries to patients who would otherwise not be able to afford them.

Read more here: https://www.ohhsa.net/

Event times:

  • 24 hour race: Saturday, 10 November - 10:00
  • 6 hour race: Saturday, 10 November - 14:00
  • Prize giving: Sunday, 11 November - 10:00

For more information or to enter, please visit www.entryninja.com or contact Rudolf Botha on 083 236 8933 or via email at rudolf@petrichoradventures.co.za

To stay updated on all the news and important announcements, like the event's Facebook page: PBHS MTB Challenge


Congratulations to the Pretoria Boys High School quiz team who won the Pretoria News Varsity College quiz on 1 September 2018 walking away with R20 000 prize money. They now qualify to take part in the national competition. Great job boys!

L: Congratulations to the PBHS Cross Country team on being awarded the Pretoria League Mass Participation trophy.R: Well done to the PBHS 4th Golf Team, who won their league last week.

Images & Text: PBHS


The Pretoria Boys High School Aeronautical Society will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with a reunion dinner. All Old Boys who were members of the Aeronautical Society between 1993 to present are invited to attend this special occasion.

Date: 20th October 2018
Venue: Sommerville Pavilion, Pretoria Boys High School
Time: 18:30 for 19:00
Cost: R270.00 per person (partners welcome)

To book for the reunion dinner please deposit the relevant funds:
Pretoria Boys High School - collections
First National Bank
Branch code: 250655
Account number: 62565719691
Swift code: FIRNZ AJJ
Reference: 7500/042 Surname

We hope to have a fantastic turnout of past members to celebrate a quarter of a century of activities; the achievements of those who went into the industry and the passion for flying in its various forms.

Please RSVP to Mr Illsley: john@boyshigh.com


We appeal to all Old Boys to please send recollections of events at Pretoria Boys High School that you found particularly poignant or humorous. With the help of Dr Trebot Barry (1956), the PBHSOB Association would like to put together a coffee table collection of reminiscence. This can only be done through the participation and contributions we receive by Old Boys.

Please send your recollections to info@pbhsob.com


Classical music victory during the final of ATKV-Muziq and -Muziqanto

..21-year-old Cameron Williams (2015) crowned this year in the ATKV Muziq Competition..


Stunning silhouettes show animals of Africa at sunrise and sunset

Wildlife photographer Greg Du Toit (1995) has captured powerful images of silhouetted animals in southern and eastern Africa to show "the mystery and intrigue of Africa."


Spring Classic MTB race results: Withaar, Swanepoel claim titles

Jan Withaar (2000) and Bronwynne Swanpoel won the respective men's and women's event at the Spring Classic MTB race in Krugersdorp today.


Congratulations to all the winners at The African Legal Awards 2018

The evening culminated with the CCASA Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Justice Edwin Cameron (1970), who sits on the Constitutional Court of South Africa and is renowned for his pioneering work campaigning for gay rights.


Titans packed with Proteas for new T20 international tournament

Chris Morris (2006) will get his chance to impress Proteas coach Ottis Gibson for the first time in a while when he features for the Titans in a new T20 international tournament in Abu Dhabi next month.



One often hears boarders going on about how we think we're better than dayboys. There is one reason for this: we are.

We are allowed only limited time upstairs after lunch, so we are almost forced to get involved. Where a dayboy might try something, a boarder just does it. Apart from sleep (a favourite pastime in the hostel) there are many other afternoon activities such as sports practice, club meetings, and a game of touch rugby or gym (one of the more popular options).

With over-the-top stories of gruelling "PT opstaans," early morning writing torture, Boss-work, and dining hall food, why would anyone want to be a boarder?

Firstly, there's the brotherhood. All the trials, pains and comedies we go through, we go through as a dorm. These groups, no matter how weird or wonderful become your brothers.

Then there's the rush of competition. The first race starts at 6:30 with a thirty-second-long bell, rung by a Form I boy. One needs to be neatly dressed, fully shaven (if applicable), have one's bed so straight that a coin can bounce off it, and be down stairs in fifteen minutes. No wonder that boarders are awake only in about the third period, after which they'll happily sleep anyway.

The next race happens when the break-time sandwiches are good - that is on Tuna Tuesday. The rule is that we are allowed two sandwiches, but when the bell rings at the end of break, leftovers can be taken at will. As the end of break draws nearer, we start to act like race-horses. We get into our starting blocks, surrounding the tray and wait. Then, in a matter of milliseconds after the bell as rung, the great tower of sandwiches is reduced to crumbs. Sometimes even the tray goes missing.

There is also a way of getting away from a stressful life. Form I may be stressful, but the rest of the hostel is highly "chilled". Look at the boarders. Do they look stressed? No, probably tired, but not stressed. Some of us may be a bit too relaxed, but it's safe to say that a boarder's life is lived at a considerably slower pace than a dayboy's.

Then there's the "boys will be boys" nature of wanting to do the wrong thing. Hiding one's cell phone after lights-out, going on a night swim, bombarding someone with papers during prep, "shave creaming" guys we don't like - all of these are punishable offences. (It's not possible to explain why throwing paper is contributing to our studies.) But we do these things, not because we want to or because we can, but because we're not allowed to do them.

Now comes the disturbing bit: hostel life tampers with our minds. There's no other excuse. Why else would we, after being hosed-down on the coldest night of the year, sing that house war-cry still more loudly? Why else would we decide to see how many people can pile onto Pentz before the bed breaks (Record: 22.) Why else would we make a random animal noise at lights out? It's not easy being a boarder. We have got duties, we have got a bad reputation with the teachers and always end up with the worst jobs. I guess it all comes down to two things: commitment and brotherhood. The school relies on boarders, and we rely on one another.

Greg Lavagna, Boys Highlights Number 11 - November 2008


Purchase regalia items via the Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys' Association online shop on the AlumNet portal or email info@pbhsob.com for more information.

Please note Regalia is only available to PBHSOB Association Life Members.

"Old Boyz" items are available to all Old Boys of Pretoria Boys High School. Life Members of the PBHSOB Association can purchase these items online. Old Boys must please email their queries to info@pbhsob.com

Are you interested in joining the
Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys' Association?
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The Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys Association is pleased to announce the following advertising options available on our new AlumNet Portal:

Home Page Sponsor
Purchase one of five rotating spaces on the PBHSOB Association AlumNet home page for R600.00 per month.

Title Sponsor
Displayed at the bottom of the home page and rotate with other sponsors within the online portal. Purchase this prime advertising space for R700.00 per month.

Please click here or email info@pbhsob.com for more information


Old Boy sculptor, Guy du Toit, was commissioned to sculpt and cast four bronze statuettes as the trophies for the Inter-House competition. They are all based on the Danny Swart statue on the dome and in the school museum, with the Winning House trophy (second from right) being a miniature of that statue.

The other statuettes are for cultural events (on the extreme left); sports events (second from left) and academic performance (extreme right).

The new Inter-House trophies were awarded for the first time at the end of 2017 during the final school assembly of the year.

Seen with the trophies are those heads of house who accepted them on behalf of their houses. From left to right: Conrad Reid (Armstrong House) with the Cultural Trophy; Richard da Costa School House) with the Sport and Winning House trophies. Jan-Hendrik Dreyer (Abernethy House) with the trophy for Academic Excellence.

- The Pretorian 2017


Click here for the latest school sports results

  • 28 September 2018: End of Term 3
  • 9 October 2018: Form V Valediction | Term 4 begins
  • 13 October 2018: Athletics - Grey College meet @Bloemfontein
  • 19 - 20 October 2018: Athletics - Pukke Top 30 @Potchefstroom
  • 26 - 27 October 2018: Athletics - Gert Le Roux meet @Tuks

Click here for more

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The Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys' Association has recently teamed up with a company called AlumNet and most of you should have received an email or SMS from the new system encouraging you to log in. Click here to access the Alumnet Portal

All Old Boys will be able to register or log in and update their details on the new portal. As a Life Member of the Pretoria Boys High School Old Boys Association this exciting new platform will also allow you to:

  • Purchase regalia from our online shop within the system
  • Network and send messages to other Life Members
  • Place an advertisement in the classifieds section
  • Take part in forum discussions
  • And many more features

If you have not yet received any communication regarding the new online platform or are having a problem logging in, please email info@pbhsob.com




  • 26 & 27 OCTOBER 2018
    40 YEAR ON - CLASS OF 1978
  • 9 NOVEMBER 2018

If you have any interesting news items and photos or just want to let your fellow Old Boys know what you have been up to after school, please send all information to info@pbhsob.com

This e-mail is proudly sponsored by PBHSOB