Selborne College was founded in 1872 by Pastor Heinrich Muller, a German settler, and at that stage was known as the Panmure Public School. In 1880 the first recorded sporting engagement involving the school took place, namely a cricket match against Dale College in King William’s Town.
In 1892 another sporting milestone was reached when this school played its first rugby match. Again the opponents were Dale College.
After Pastor Muller’s resignation in 1896, John Young piloted the school through an eventful seven year period that encompassed the South African War and saw the school move premises to Muir Street. It was under headmaster, George Rattray, in 1907 that the school was named Selborne College in honour of the Second Earl of Selborne, High Commissioner from 1905 to 1910, whose Selborne Memorandum became the blueprint for the Union of South Africa.
The Selborne family coat of arms and motto were adopted as the College badge and motto. Palma Virtuti (‘Reward is to the Brave’) underpins the approach to both the academic and extra-curricular activities of the school. By 1920 it became evident that the school was once again outgrowing its premises and in May 1922 the foundation stone was laid by Sir Frederick de Waal, Administrator of the Cape, on the present site of Selborne College.
Dr Rattray, when he handed over the reins to George Floyd at the beginning of 1931, had forged the character of Selborne. Under Floyd strong emphasis was laid on sporting as well as academic achievement and in the post-war years Selborne continued to maintain an impressive record of progress. Mr Floyd was succeeded by John Perry (1949 – 1958), after whom came Alan Barker (1959 – 1968).
John Stonier took over the reins of the school in 1969, and was succeeded by Tim Gordon (1981 – 1992), in whose final year the East London City Council presented the College with an illuminated address in recognition of the school’s 120 years of service to the community. 1993 saw Alan Gunn take over as headmaster.
Today, as Selborne College carries its standard proudly in the ranks of South Africa’s eminent schools, it keeps its traditions at heart: the solemn Ceremony of the Key, instituted in 1924 at the unveiling of the War Memorial statue of the young soldier that stands in front of the school, still takes place on Founders’ Day. This is when the boys reaffirm their recognition of the achievements and sacrifices of the past and of their responsibilities to the future.
Selborne has built up an enviable reputation on the sports field and over the years has produced 56 Springboks. Among these Springboks are Geoff Chubb (Cricket), member of parliament André de Wet and Ray Carlson (Rugby), Jonty Skinner (Swimming), and the Scheckter brothers, Jody and Ian, who made their mark in international motor racing, Jody as Formula One world champion for Ferrari in 1979. Selborne’s most recent Springboks include Michael Orsmond (Wave-ski), Mark Boucher (Cricket) and rugby players Keith and Mark Andrews, André Vos and Brent Russell.