Hebron School, as we now know it, was formed when Lushington Boys’ School and Hebron Girls’ School were amalgamated in 1974/5. Both schools have a long and distinguished history and the school’s start date is taken as 1899.
Lushington Hall was built in 1827-28 for C.M.Lushington, a brother of S.R. Lushington, a Governor of Madras, on land purchased from the Todas of Manjackalmund – the village immediately behind the property. It was a time when the Todas were selling off tracts of land to the British settlers. The original bungalow was built in the typical Georgian style of that period, and today the façade remains unchanged. The property originally stretched over what is now the Botanical Gardens – then virtually a swamp.
It was sold by the Lushington family in 1859 to a Dr G.U. Pope and was thereafter used as a school – called Snowdon College – until 1871 when Pope moved to Bangalore to take over at Bishop Cotton Boys’ School. It had a number of owners until 1941 when it was bought by the Hebron Schools’ Association to serve as a hostel for boys attending Breeks School. Before this, other premises in the town had been used for this purpose, firstly Templeton Hostel from 1912 and later Clifton Hostel.
Breeks School was founded in 1873 as a memorial to J.S.Breeks, the first commissioner of the Nilgiris.
Only in 1980 was it reorganised into two schools, Breeks Memorial School which followed the Tamil Nadu State Board syllabus and Breeks All India Secondary School which followed the national CBSE syllabus. After Indian Independence in 1947, Breeks was recognised as an Anglo-Indian school. The new constitution gave protection and special status to minorities and the Anglo-Indian community in particular. There was an influx of students in the 1950s, and changes to the curriculum, which eventually lead to the establishment of Lushington Boys’ School (L.B.S.) which commenced in 1961 with 60 boys under Mr Rupert Darling as Principal and Mr Alex Smyth as Warden. A few boys were allowed to complete schooling at Breeks by then under Mr Donald Fox, and the two schools did for some years share staff. Breeks followed an Indian syllabus, preparing students for the ISC and later the IGCSE/ISC pattern, while L.B.S. prepared students for the G.C.E. examinations. After Jonathan Ingleby succeeded Mr Darling in 1976, A Levels started.
Hebron School, Coonoor, had humble beginnings in 1899 on the Brooklands premises. Miss Grace Orlebar started a primary school for the daughters of mainly Brethren missionaries. The school had various homes around Coonoor before moving to the Silverdale property in 1908, which had been set up as a training centre for missionaries, but never used for that purpose.
In 1913, Hebron was ‘recognised’ under the Regulations for European Schools. We still use the 1913 document as proof of our recognition by government. Annual Government Inspections started in 1914. Hebron’s facilities were developed, with Chaplin House completed in 1926, Logan House in 1936, and following the WW2 influx, Stanes House was added in 1941.
Lushington Boys School
At first Lushington Hall was used as a dorm for boys attending Breeks School. Once Breeks began using the Indian syllabus, Lushington became Lushington Boys School and from 1961 older boys (after Std 3) were transferred there from Coonoor. The big change came in 1974 when Lushington Boys’ and Hebron Girls’ Schools amalgamated. The senior school operated out of the Lushington property and most of the present school buildings date from this period. While at the same time Selborne, a former nursing home, was gifted to the Hebron Schools’ Association.
The Junior School continued in Silverdale, Coonoor, until 1977 when it too was moved to the Lushington compound. Christian Mission Service bought the Silverdale premises at that time. The sale of the Coonoor premises funded the construction of the classrooms and other buildings at Lushington. Enrolment peaked at 205 in 1965, but steadily declined in the following years as missionary numbers declined, necessitating the union with Lushington Boys’ School.