“The salvation of this country lies in education, for it is in that way that the higher ideals are brought out and the smaller and objectionable matters left out of our lives. It behoves us all to do everything we can for the children of South Africa and bring about the happiest relations between everyone.”
Mayor W.C. Adcock (1938)
With these words, the foundation stone of the old Lawson Brown High School – a then dual medium institution located in Sidwell - was laid.
Lawson Brown is an English-medium co-educational high school that caters for Grade 8 – Grade 12 learners. The school’s existence resulted from the splitting of the dual-medium Lawson Brown High School which was founded in 1938 and was situated in Sidwell, with the school being named after city councillor W Lawson Brown – a prominent lawyer and chairman of the Port Elizabeth School Board.
In 1953 the SIdwell school was divided, the English-speaking component moving to the Mount Road area now known as Millard Grange and initially named Mount Road High School. The Afrikaans-speaking component of the school remained on the original site and became known as Hoerskool Cillie. Mount Road High School was later renamed after Mr W. Lawson Brown – a prominent lawyer, City Councillor and Chairman of the then School Board who had laid the foundation stone of the original building. His dream of seeing an English-medium High School established in the area had been realised. In 1953 Principal MR J.A. Campbell and three staff taught 1098 Std 7’s (now Grade 9) in a cluster of pre-fabs and by 1955, when the new building was completed the enrolment had grown to 320.
The hall, which for many hears served as the venue for the Inter-Schools’ Play Festival, was erected shortly before the retirement of second principal Mr C.F. de Lange. He was succeeded briefly by Mr. H.D. Schroeder who later distinguished himself on both the SATA and RFC executives. Our Valley Fields were taken into use during his term of office. With Mr M.E. Yates, later Chief Superintendent of Education, at the helm, enrolment reached nearly 750, which made this the largest “white” school in those years. Extensions virtually doubled the size of the existing building. Additional courts and fields became necessary too. It was also in this time that Lawson Brown’s Art Centre, for which the school has become famous, was established.
It was principal Mr B.F. Simpson who, when part of our traditional feeder area changed from residential to industrial, and with a country in socio-political flux, took the bold step of abandoning tokenism and “properly” opened the school to pupils of all races and persuasions, thus pioneering among state-controlled schools in this city an integrated system of education in the very spirit of the words of Mr Adcock 50 years earlier and just as in the spirit of the New South Africa.