History is considered generally as a boring subject. One needs to memorize names of so many Kings, years of their reign, successes of their rules and more often than not, their failures.We, the Bengalees as a race, and generally Indians as a Nationality, has an equally careless attitude towards history. Bankimchandra and many others have lamented the complete forgetfulness of history in us. Though as Bengalee, we have so many historians as our ancestors, we have very little written history.On this background, we are looking for the history of Hooghly Collegiate School, a mostly government run school through the centuries and that also in a lesser known Bengal town of Chuchura. Hardly known outside and dwarfed by famous neighbours on either side, Chandannagar on south and Hooghly/Bandel on north. However, this is where, the oldest school of undivided Bengal bloomed.On this background, we are looking for the history of Hooghly Collegiate School, a mostly government run school through the centuries and that also in a lesser known Bengal town of Chuchura. Hardly known outside and dwarfed by famous neighbours on either side, Chandannagar on south and Hooghly/Bandel on north. However, this is where, the oldest school of undivided Bengal bloomed.The year of 1812, as the year of foundation of Hooghly Collegiate School was known locally over the years. But due to repeated changes of locations and changes of school buildings, most of the old records are lost or misplaced. After the above first reference of 1817, the second available reference was one of 1826, when, the then District Judge & Magistrate of Hooghly reported that the school (till then, attached to the Imambarah), had 83 students, of both Hindu and Muslim communities. 16 of them used to study Arabic, 7 Farsi, and rest 60 English.Then on 1st August 1836, Hooghly College was founded as a Government institute with funding from Mohsin Trust Fund. It was recorded in the History of Hooghly College that – “The Madrassah attached the Imambarah, like the English School, was abolished when the College was founded”. From then on, the school became part of the College. Initially, there was no segregation between school & college. The College had four lower and four higher classesDuring the same period, in 1834, a school was founded in Hooghly area by local Zaminders. In 1837, the academics of the new school was handed over to the Hooghly College authorities, who arranged the teaching of Bengali & Farsi in the new school.
Since there was the main school under college, this new school became known as Hooghly Branch School.In 1846, the school curriculum was changed. The top two classes became college section, whereas the lower section was divided in seven classes, four junior and three senior. This was changed again in 1849, when the two classes of College were reorganized into four. In 1856, the lower & higher sections of school were merged. Immediately, in the next year, in 1857, Calcutta University was formed and the College got accreditation.
In this connection, it may be noted that Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay got admitted in the first class of junior section of this school at an age of eleven in the year 1849. He has studied for seven years in this school.
Till 1913, school was located in the college building itself as a part of it. But due increase in number of students, the school shifted to a rented house named ‘Bhudev Bhavan’, family house of Bhudev Mukhopadhyay, an educationist himself and close friend of Michael Madhusudan Dutt. This is the start of complete separate existence of the school. During a long period, the school did not have it’s own building. During the second world war, for a brief period, the school was relocated in the ground floor of Hooghly Madrassa. At that time, the present school building was used as a Hostel of Hooghly Madrassa.
Post Independence, with active help from various administrative quarters, these two were interchanged, and in February 1951, the school got its permanent location at the present building.
During the periods, the school was located in Bhudeb Bhavan, as well as in in Madrassa, there was a metallic signboard in school gate, indicating the name of the school, along with the foundation year as 1812. This was continued in the new building also. Then in 1964, when the present gate was constructed during the tenure of Sri Keshab Chandra Bhattacharya as Headmaster and Asst Headmaster Sri Prafulla Kumar Sarkar, the same text was inscribed on the main gate.
This is the history of the school, in short. Very soon, it is going to reach two-hundred years of it’s foundation. Though the exact time of its creation is not clearly documented and more & more getting under the dust cover of time, the long period of it’s existence cannot be denied. However, a school is not only known by the years of its existence, but by its students and teachers. During the last two centuries, it has produced many outstanding students. Many of them secured top ranks in various state & national level examinations, including the board examinations. We hope that in time, the school will keep its prominent place in the time to come.