Methodist Boys' School, at Air Itam Road, George Town, is one of the several missionary schools on Penang Island. Founded by a Canadian Methodist missionary, it was initially named the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang. The school and its female counterpart, the Methodist Girls' School at Anson Road, are among the several Methodist schools established all over Malaysia and Singapore.
Today, like many other missionary schools on Penang Island, the Methodist Boys' School follows the standardised Malaysian education system.
Reverend B.H. Balderstone, a Methodist missionary from the Prince Edward Island, Canada, established the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang at Carnavon Street in 1891. It was the fourth Methodist school to be set up in British Malaya; the first was the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore in 1886, followed by two girls' schools, also in Singapore.
Initially, the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang, which was established in a rented shophouse, only had one student. A few months after establishing the school, Rev. Balderstone was joined by a fellow Canadian Methodist, Rev. D. D. Moore. Rev. Moore would later found the Methodist Girls' School.
Rev. Balderstone had to resign in 1892 due to his deteriorating eyesight, handing over his duties to Rev. G. F. Pykett, who would lead the school to monumental heights for the next 40 years. Its enrollment grew year after year. From a small school that occupied three shophouses at Carnavon Street and had 173 students, the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang was moved to Maxwell Road in 1897 to cope with the increasing number of students.
At the time, Rev. Pykett's efforts for the school earned the goodwill of the Chinese community on Penang Island, with a number of businessmen giving financial support for the school's expansion.
Rev. Pykett also formed the first Scout Troop on Penang Island in 1910.
As enrollment continued to increase into the 20th. century, Rev. Pykett bought 10 shophouses along Penang Road. Later, he also rented another building at Chulia Street.
In 1932, Rev. Pykett retired due to poor health and passed away that same year. By the time Rev. Peach took over as the school principal, it was divided into three - primary school at Chulia Street, middle school at Hutton Lane and high school at Maxwell Road.
Rev. Peach had bought the Suffolk House and its surrounding grounds at Air Itam Road for $20,000 (Straits dollar) in 1929. The house once served as the residence of Captain Francis Light, the founder of George Town, and his Eurasian wife, Martina Rozells.
However, an additional $140,000 was required to build the school building. With the Straits Settlement government only willing to allocate half the amount, and amid the Great Depression, the project was put on hold. Still, the school managed to raise $6,000 to refurbish the Suffolk House.
After the Second World War, it became urgent for the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang to construct a new school building, as the Suffolk House was fast deteriorating. Eventually, the school obtained a grant of $50,000 (Malaya and British Borneo dollar) from the Department of Education. The first block was declared open in 1955 by Malcolm MacDonald, the then Commissioner-General for Southeast Asia.
With the completion of the school building, the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang was moved to the site at Air Itam Road, where it remains to this day. The school was subsequently renamed the Methodist Boys' School.
Meanwhile, the Suffolk House continued to function as part of the school, serving as the school canteen. In 1975, the Suffolk House was evacuated as the building was no longer safe. It was then left to rot until restoration works commenced in 2006.
Whatsoever Things Are True
Methodist Boys' School offers secondary education up to STPM (Malaysian Higher School Certificate) level, equivalent to Form 6. Whilst Forms 1 through 5 are strictly for boys, girls are enrolled only into the Form 6 classes.
- Earnest Lau, 2008. From Mission to Church: The Evolution of the Methodist Church in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885-1976. Armour Publishing Pte. Ltd., Singapore.