Our History

The Rondebosch Old Boys’ Union was established in 1909 by Headmaster Mr Sydney ‘Dad’ Mason to support the Rondebosch boys and staff and to help Old Boys maintain links with the Schools and with each other. Over the last 110 years, the Old Boys’ Union has assumed a greater role in raising funds for the benefit of both the Prep and High Schools and providing other support.

During both World Wars, Mr Mason’s self-imposed task was keeping in contact with all of the Old Boys and staff who were serving during the two World Wars. He and Mrs Mason, with the help of boarders, packed food parcels and other provisions for Old Boys who were held as prisoners of war.  This exceptional support of Rondebosch Old Boys far from home was the foundation upon which the Old Boys’ Union was built.

Important milestones

December 1904 First school magazine is produced and sent to Old Boys and other friends of Rondebosch. “Altius et Latius”, representing the lower and upper part of a tree becomes the school motto and the school colours are implemented.
1905 The first Past v Present cricket match is played.
1907 The first swimming bath funded by Old Boys and others is opened near what is now the front of the Memorial Hall.
1908 The first Old Boys v School rugby match is played and the Past and Present Boys Debating and Literary Society started.
20 November 1909 The RBHS Union is founded at a meeting in Canigou with headmaster Dad Mason as President. The members comprise Old Boys and senior boys in the High School.
1910 First Old Boys social gatherings are held.
13 March 1913 The first official Foundation Day is celebrated with a cricket match between Old Boys and school boys.
14 March 1913 First Old Boys’ Union annual dinner.
1914 The school song is published.
World War I Mr and Mrs Mason maintain contact throughout the war with Old Boys serving in Europe.
1920s The Union starts assisting the school with projects such as library books and goal-posts.
1926 Life membership is introduced and the Union’s name is changed to the RBHS Old Boys’ Union.
1927 War Memorial Library opened by General Jan Smuts to commemorate the Old Boys who died during the Great War.
World War II Mr Mason again maintain ties with over 1600 Old Boys on active service throughout the world. Thousands of food and clothing parcels are sent to Old Boys including those who are prisoners of war.
1944 An Old Boys’ reunion dinner is held on the banks of the Nile in Cairo.
1947 Establishment of Old Boys’ Union newsletter under editorship of Charlie Hallack and the “History of the Rondebosch Boys’ High School: The story of 50 Years of Constant Progress” is published. The Lilacs is purchased.
1948 Sub-Union representative is appointed to liaise with numerous sub-unions in South and Southern Africa and elsewhere.
1951 The Memorial Hall is opened. Old Boys and others contribute £26 000 of the total cost of £40 000.
1955 New swimming pool is opened, designed and constructed by Old Boys at a cost of £25 000. It is the third pool since the establishment of the school. Wally Mears becomes President of the Union.
1979 The Mears Centre, which was built with funds raised by Old Boys, is opened. Alan Cormack (E1941) jointly wins the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for his work which led to the development of the CAT scan.
1982 Annual Walker Cup challenge starts between Rondebosch and Bishops Old Boys
1983 Old Boys’ Union Coat of Arms registered with the State Herald.
1989 Memorial Hall is renovated with extensive financial assistance by Old Boys and other friends of Rondebosch. The War Memorial Library is renamed the Reeler Centre in honour of Mike Reeler, former RBHS headmaster and current President of the Union.
1990s With the advent of Model C schools, the Union takes on an even greater role in raising funds for the two Rondebosch schools.
1995 Mike Reeler, former master and Headmaster is elected President of the Old Boys’ Union.
1996 “Altius et Latius”, the chronicle of 100 years of Rondebosch, written by Neil Veitch (E1963) is published.
March 1997 Rondebosch celebrates its Centenary. Numerous functions are held with a highlight being the Old Boys’ dinner at Groot Constantia attended by 1,652 Old Boys.
March 2000 The E1942 Centenary Pavilion and the Centenary Computer Centre are opened. Old Boys made generous donations to the building and equipping of these impressive facilities.
2001 The Prep School hall is renovated and refurbished, partially funded by Old Boys.
2003 Establishment of the Carleton Lloyd Educational Trust on the death of Mr Carleton Lloyd (E1929).
2004 Opening of the refurbished Reeler Centre and the Music and Performing Arts Centre.
2006 The Tinkie Heyns Wing is opened in Mason House in honour of Prof Heyns.
2007 The new Rondebosch Mews are occupied by school staff. The building of the Mews was funded by Old Boys and other donors.
2008 The new swimming and water polo pool, which was funded by the Carleton Lloyd Trust, Old Boys, parents and the schools is opened.
2009 Prof Tinkie Heyns dies on 6 January. Later during the year The Carleton Lloyd Stand is opened next to Rugby A and the Old Boys’ Union celebrates its Centenary and 100 years of supporting Rondebosch.
2010 The Old Boys’ Union makes substantial funds available to both the Prep and High Schools for new facilities, including the RBHS Art and Technology Centres, both Music Departments, inter-active whiteboards and bursaries.
2011 The Tickey de Jager Mathematics Room is opened in honour of the legendary Rondebosch maths and science master, sports coach and coach. The room was financed by the Old Boys’ Union.
2011 Prof Tinkie Heyns’ ashes are interred outside Mason House and the Tinkie Heyns Memorial Garden is opened.
2013 The Chris Murison Centre (Library and IT Centre) is opened in honour of Chris Murison – Old Boy, master, former Headmaster and Vice President of the Old Boys’ Union.
2014 The Reeler Music Centre is expanded and the entire building named in honour of Mr Michael Reeler, former RBHS Headmaster and current President of the Old Boys’ Union.
2015 The Rondebosch Old Boys’ Union & Heritage Centre is opened.
2017 Rugby A is renamed the ‘Tinkie Heyns Field’

The Union now has some 8,000 members spread across the globe in 47 countries. Their support and loyalty to Rondebosch is reflected in the Old Boys’ verse in the School Song:

Here’s to the school we loved of yore!
Though we may roam the whole world o’er,
Still do the old affections stir,
Seeing her fame grow brighter yet,
Knowing her deep foundations set
Firm as the mount that shelters her.