St. Joseph's School- North Point


180 Degree Panoramic view of St. Joseph's School, North Point

1888---1898 | 1899---1908 | 1909---1918 | 1919---1928 | 1929--1938 | 100-Years-Ago

The Government of India acquired Darjeeling as a health resort in 1835. By 1846 the town had an excellent girls school conducted by the Loreto sisters. Several attempts were made to open a similar institution for boys, but for years none was successful. Finally, in 1887, when jurisdiction over the Catholic community in Darjeeling was transferred from the Bishop of Patna to the Archbishop of Calcutta, the Jesuits there were able to satisfy a long-standing request of Calcutta Catholics and establish a school for boys in Darjeeling.

On the slope above the presbytery was a long, low building locally known as Sunnybank. As a provisional measure, this would now house the new school. Accordingly alterations were immediately decided on and carried into effect.

To bear the heavy responsibility of maintaining the infant institution the authorities could find no one more able than Fr. Henry Depelchin, the founder of flourishing colleges in Calcutta and Bombay and pioneer of the Zambezi mission.

The veteran missionary landed in Calcutta in January 1888, and a few days later assumed charge in Darjeeling. February 13th heralded the birth of the new school. The next day classes formally opened with 18 boarders and 7 dayscholars present.

That Sunnybank provided only temporary shelter for the school was clearly realized, and it was on this understanding that the Fathers cast about anxiously for a new and permanent site. The spur of Birch Hill called the North Point location was the final choice. The transfer of the land was effected on July 10th.

The building of the structure was entrusted to Brother Eugene Rotsaert, who commenced with characteristic energy the levelling of the site, approximately 2,000,000 cubic feet of rock and soil had to be removed before building could begin, and a force of some two thousand men was employed for the purpose. Below the school site, the Maharaja of Burdwan had an extensive field known as Ladbrooke Farm. It was acquired on long lease and the property taken over at a moderate rental. Thus came to a close the year 1888. The work at North Point proceeded apace under the strenuous lead of Brother Rotsaert. Alignments were taken on May 2, 1889 and the foundations marked out. By May 10, 1889 the excavation of the foundations was completed and construction was started without delay.

By December the plinth was four feet high, and in January, 1890 the arches were begun. On April 27th His Grace blessed the foundation stone. By December, 1890 the eastern wing had been roofed over.

By June that year 1891, the whole building had been roofed over, and Brother Rotsaert now devoted his entire attention to the rapid completion of the interior. In December, to the surprise and delight of all, the building was declared fit to be occupied, and on December 8th, Fr. Depelchin blessed the new school.

It was during this year, 1892, that Mr. E. H. FitzGerald joined the staff. From then until his death in 1945 he remained with the school and contributed enormously to its success by his generous and whole-hearted devotion.

Classes reopened on February 18th, 1892, for the first time at North Point. The boys were delighted with their new surroundings and ever so proud of their school, already recognized as the premier school of Darjeeling.

In spite of the financial difficulties at St. Joseph’s material improvements were actively taken in hand from the very first year of its existence. The dormitories were panelled, spacious dressing-rooms were fitted out, and the equipment of the two laboratories-for physics and chemistry-was considerably improved. Important changes were made in the course of studies, with a thorough revision.

The first year at North Point was a decided success. The appreciation of the general public for the efficiency of Jesuit education was manifest beyond all doubt; and the boys’ systematic and thorough ways of studying, bore ample witness to the good wrought by the Father efforts.

An important and most welcome change was the creation in 1893 of the front flat, by the complete removal of the unsightly mound which stood between the building and the Lebong Road.

During the year 1893 Darjeeling residents were surprised by the excellence of the school sportsmen. St. Joseph’s met St. Paul’s for the first time in a cricket match on April 3rd, and to the amazement of many the result was a glorious victory for the North Pointers. Ten days later they won again in a season of mostly victories.

The school year of 1894 began with a serious earthquake, occuring about midnight of February 21/22 but the school suffered absolutely no damage.

Cricket flourished this year under the wise and firm direction of the captain, F. Boswell, who led the team from victory to victory. Such indeed was the success that at the close of the year the team organized and carried through a successful tour of Calcutta. During the year the first cricket pavilion was erected. Though it cannot bear comparison with the present pavilion, it certainly served the purpose. The boys excelled in athletics, and secured several “firsts” at the public sports of the District. After successfully guiding the school for almost four years, Fr. Neut was, in 1895, called away to Calcutta. His successor was Fr. John Schaefer, one of the two Jesuits present when in 1887, the Jesuits succeeded the Capuchins in Darjeeling. After only a few weeks in office Fr. Schaefer took sick, and soon his condition grew rapidly worse. On October 14th, after only five months in office, he left Darjeeling and was replaced by Fr. C. De Clippeleir.

In cricket and football the school was well to the fore. Under the matchless guidance of G. O’Brien Power the cricket team was well nigh invincible, and the football XI reached the finals of the first open football tournament to be held in Darjeeling, only to be beaten by a military team by a margin of one goal.

To meet the wishes of many old boys eager to remain in touch with their Alma Mater, the school paper, the North Point Annual, was started. North point cricketers of 1896 were presented with a new pavilion built on the site of the old, which had proved inadequate. Largely responsible for the new one was a generous benefactor, Captain Lord, who had long been a warm friend of the School.

The disastrous earthquake of 1897, which wrecked Darjeeling and reduced to ruins most of the towns that lay in its path, did not leave the college untouched. Such was the intensity of the shocks that twisting motions in visible waves rapidly succeeded each other; a terrifying rumbling was heard throughout, and the cracking and rending of houses and trees produced a horrible din. The school building was oscillating more than a foot-and-a-half from the vertical, and all expected its immediate collapse. To the architect’s credit it survived the ordeal, and though much plaster fell and some minor cracks appeared, its safety was unimpaired. The western wall had suffered most, so to ensure its greater security it was firmly bolted to the main building by iron ties and binding plates.

In the following year, 1898, two serious landslides from exceptionally heavy rain caused much inconvenience. The resulting damage necessitated immediate attention, and the heavy expense incurred was wholly unanticipated.


TUESDAY : Winter Camp Begins
26 FRIDAY : Republic Day

THURSDAY : School Office Reopens
10 SATURDAY : All Boarding Staff Arrive
12 MONDAY : All Boarders of Classes 5-12 Arrive Staff Orientation
13 TUESDAY : All Boarders of Classes 3-4 Arrive Staff Orientation
14 WEDNESDAY : Classes Begin PD,LD,UD, SD
15 THURSDAY : Cricket Season Begins
17 SATURDAY : Academic Awards Day Captain Vs Secretary Cricket Match
23 FRIDAY : Last Day of Payment of Fees
24 SATURDAY : PD Parents Teachers Meeting, Staff Vs Students' Cricket Match

SATURDAY : LD,UD,SD Parents Teachers Meeting, Cricket Match NP vs MH
SUNDAY : Cricket Cup-Tie PD,LD,UD,SD
MONDAY : Inter-house Basketball Matches (3.30 pm)
10 SATURDAY : NP vs MH Cricket Match, PTI Meeting at SP
11 SUNDAY : Cricket Cup-Tie PD,LD,UD,SD
17 SATURDAY : Fr. Kinley 8 & Below Basketball Tournament
24 SATURDAY : NP vs SP Cricket Match
30 FRIDAY : Good Friday
31 SATURDAY : Month End Outing / Picnic for Boarders

SATURDAY : Inter-Class Singing Competition LD,UD
SUNDAY : Cricket Cup-Tie PD,LD,UD,SD, NP vs SP Teachers' Cricket Match at SP
MONDAY : Inter-House Volleyball Matches (3.30 pm)
13 FRIDAY : Inter-School Basketball Carnival at SAS
14 SATURDAY : LD Spell Bee, Inter-School Basketball Carnival at SAS
15 SUNDAY : Class XI Boarders Arrive
16 MONDAY : Class XI Begins
21 SATURDAY : NP vs SP Cricket match, PD Choral Recitation
28 SATURDAY : Month-end Outing, ISC Fest-Dance at MHS
30 MONDAY : Edinburgh Cricket Tournament at SP

WEDNESDAY : Edinburgh Cricket Tournament at SP
SATURDAY : LD Quiz, Edinburgh Cricket Tournament at SP
SUNDAY : Football Season Begings
12 SATURDAY : 8 & Below Inter-School Volleyball Tournament at NP, Tennis NP vs SP, ISC Fest- One Act Play at NP
18 FRIDAY : Staff vs Students' Football Match at 3.30 pm
19 SATURDAY : Inter-School Volleyball Carnival at SP
20 SUNDAY : Football Cup-Tie Matches PD,LD,UD,SD
25 FRIDAY : PD Concert
26 SATURDAY : Month End Outing
27 SUNDAY : Football Cup-Tie Matches PD,LD,UD,SD
29 TUESDAY : Football Selection 3pm
30 WEDNESDAY : Football Selection
31 THURSDAY : Football Selection

FRIDAY : Football Selection at 3 pm
SUNDAY : Football Cup-Tie Match PD,LD,UD,SD
16 SATURDAY : First Semester Exams Begin
18 MONDAY : Exam
19 TUESDAY : Exam
21 THURSDAY : Exam
22 FRIDAY : Exam till 11 am Summer Vacation Begins

SUNDAY : Boarders Return
MONDAY : Classes Resume
SATURDAY : Results-PTM, NP vs MH Football Match, ISC Fest-Debate at SP
MONDAY : Inter-house Football Matches
11 WEDNESDAY : NP vs SP Football Match
14 SATURDAY : PD Elocution, Joraj Memorial Football Tournament, Inter-School Chess Tournament at LC
21 SATURDAY : Inter-school Table Tennis Carnival at NP
25 WEDNESDAY : NP vs SP Football Match
28 SATURDAY : Month-end Outing, DNPSA Quiz
30 MONDAY : NP vs MH Football Match at 3 pm
31 TUESDAY : Musical Play- Inigo

WEDNESDAY : Vernacular Elocution-Hindi at NP, Nepali at SP, Bengali at MH
SATURDAY : North Point Musical Concert
WEDNESDAY : Lawn Tennis at SP
11 SATURDAY : LD,UD Elocution Inter-school Badminton Carnival at SAS
15 WEDNESDAY : Independence Day, Fun Activities
17 FRIDAY : Inter-School Football Carnival at NP
18 SATURDAY : PD Quiz Inter-School Football Carnival at NP
19 SUNDAY : Athletics Season Begins
24 FRIDAY : NM Master's Shield at LC
25 SATURDAY : Swimming Gala Inter-Jesuit 8 & Below Football Tournament at St. Vincent's School Hatighisa
28 TUESDAY : Practice of Heats Begin
29 WEDNESDAY : Lawn Tennis at SP

SATURDAY : Month-End Outing NP vs SP Teachers' Football at NP, Inter-School Swimming at MH
WEDNESDAY : Teachers' Day
SATURDAY : Inter-School Primary Division Bill German Quiz
29 SATURDAY : ISC Fest - Singing at LC

TUESDAY : Gandhi Jayanthi
MONDAY : Height and weight in Kurseong
TUESDAY : Height and weight in Kalimpong
10 WEDNESDAY : Height and weight in Darjeeling
11 THURSDAY : Alumni Get-together for 1993 & 1968 Batches
12 FRIDAY : Sports Day School Concert Dinner for Parents/Alumni
13 SATURDAY : Rector's Day at 8.30 am, Puja Vacation begins at 11 am
17 WEDNESDAY : Durga Puja / Saptami
19 FRIDAY : Desserha/ Vijayadashami
23 TUESDAY : Boarders Return
24 WEDNESDAY : Classes Resume
31 WEDNESDAY : PTI Meeting at SAS

SATURDAY : Inter-School Athletics at GMS
MONDAY : Meeting of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools at DGH
THURSDAY : Holiday, Excursion to Alipruduar for Boarders
FRIDAY : Bhai Tikka, Excursion to Alipurduar
10 SATURDAY : Excursion to Alipurduar
14 WEDNESDAY : Children's Day, Fancy Fete

SATURDAY : Exam till 11 am Winter Vacation Begins
15 SATURDAY : Results PTM
19 WEDNESDAY : School Office Closes
25 TUESDAY : Christmas