Methodist Boys' School (Penang)

Methodist Boys' School (Penang)

Methodist Boys' School, Penang is a secondary school for boys in Penang, Malaysia. It was established in 1891 by Methodist missionary Reverend Balderstone.




The Methodist Boys' School, Penang, known as the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang (ACSP) at its inception, had a humble beginning at a little shop house in Carnavon Street. Its founder, Rev. B. H. Balderstone, a native of Prince Edward Island, came to Penang (then a British Straits Settlement) after nearly two years in Singapore to start on a mission work. Rev. Balderstone opened the school doors on May 28, 1891. Rev. Balderstone was joined by Rev. D. D. Moore, also a Canadian, a few months later to teach in the school. The Moores established the Methodist Girls' School in 1892.

Due to failing eyesight, Rev. Balderstone was forced to resign on April 10, 1893. The Moores left two years later.

The Pykett Era

Rev. G. F. Pykett arrived in 1892 to replace Rev. Balderstone. Pykett was born on December 20, 1864 in Lincolnshire, England. His absolute dedication to the school deservedly earned him the title of founding father of ACSP. He was with ACSP for most of the years from 1892 to 1932.

The school had 173 pupils and was housed in three shophouses in Carnavon St. when Pykett came to take over. As a teacher, Rev. Pykett took great interest in his pupils. Despite having to supervise the whole school, he also taught in the Cambridge classes daily.

Under Rev. Pykett's direction, the school grew. A site at Maxwell Road, now the location of Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (KOMTAR), was purchased in 1895. Two years later, 456 pupils were moved into the new premises, which then became the headquarters of ACSP.

The first Junior Cambridge Class (today's equivalent of Form Four) was established during the Pykett era. MBS earned a good reputation among the merchants and Chinese community. The school-leavers were highly praised by prospective employers.

The local Chinese community gave full support to the educational work done by Rev. Pykett. Among those notable for their contributions were Mr Khoo Hun Yeang, Mr Foo Choo Choon and Mr Khoo Cheow Teong.

The Benefactors

Khoo Hun Yeang

Born in 1884 in Penang, he was the son of Mr Khoo Hean Teik, the powerful head of the Tua Pek Kong Society of Penang. He was educated in Penang and prospered as a tin-miner under the name of Chop Chin Lee & Co. He donated $2000 for a furnishing and white-washing project. Another $2000 was given to endow a scholarship named after him.

Foo Choo Choon

Born in China, Mr Foo Choo Choon came to Penang when he was 13. He built up an extensive tin-mining interest in Perak. He was a generous philanthropist and an enthusiastic promoter of Chinese and English education in Penang and Perak. Out of $2500 donated, $1000 was used to purchase books for setting up a new library.

Khoo Cheow Teong

Born in Penang in 1889, Mr Khoo Cheow Teong was noted for his generous donations to local institutions of education such as ACSP, Penang Free School, Chung Hwa Confucian School and the King Edward VII Medical College in Singapore. His philanthropy and interest in community affairs made him Justice of the Peace. He donated $1500 to the school.

Sports Houses

In recognition of their generosity, three sports houses were named after these three benefactors, while another two were named after Balderstone and Pykett.

20th Century

In 1906, a School Union was organized to promote closer relationships among ex-pupils and teachers, and to render mutual help in various ways. A Cadet Corps was established in the same year, and for many years the pride of ACSP until 1931 when it was abolished by Pykett in line with the mission of peace and harmony. In 1907 the Boarding School was instituted and grew under the management of Mrs Pykett.

At about the same time, the Normal Class was started for promising students who had completed their Cambridge Senior Class (equivalent to today's Form Five). They were to be trained as teachers and eventually sat for the Normal examinations conducted by the Government. The Normal class became an important source of teachers to ACSP in the years to come.

The first school magazine, The Scholar's Own was published in 1909. Publication ceased in 1911 when editors Mr Ung Ban Hoe and Mr Goh Huan Ho left for further studies. Publication resumed in 1924.

The first Scout Troop was organized 1910 but was only registered in 1916, making it the oldest scout troop in Penang.

Due to increasing number of students, ten shophouses along Penang Road were bought and used as classrooms. By 1920, the school building was so congested that it was necessary to obtain another place for pupils. The building at 422 Chulia Street was rented and about 600 of the Primary and Middle School students were housed there. Rev. Pykett left for England in 1932 but died in September that same year. His demise was mourned by all. Rev. Pykett was considered a leading power in the Methodist mission as were his contemporaries. He was recognised as one of the forerunners of education in Malaya. In tribute to his good work, the MBS rightly honours him as the man who "came to blaze the trail."

Post-Pykett Era

Rev. Peach assumed the principalship of ACSP and divided the school into three units: Primary at Chulia St., Middle at a very fine and spacious rented home at 193 Hutton Lane and Higher at Maxwell Road. Rev. Peach purchased the Suffolk House for $20,000 in 1929. The playing field was given by Mr Lim Cheng Teik in memory of his wife, and was named the Mdm Khoo Guat Lee Playground.

A sum amounting to $140,000 was needed to build a new building at the Suffolk House grounds. However, the Government was only willing to pay $70,000 and the remainder to be borne by the school. Unfortunately, the Great Depression of the 1930s put the project on hold. The committee finally managed to raise $6000 and the amount was used to renovate the Suffolk House. The final cost was $10,000, of which $4000 was advance by the Methodist Mission.

There was a reshuffle in the school organization in 1931. Classes from Standard Six (present Form Two) upwards were transferred from the building in Maxwell Road to the Suffolk House. The building on Maxwell Road in turn was occupied by the Middle School.

Dr L. Proebstel was a supervisor during Pykett's administration before assuming the principal's post in 1934. His second term of office (1936-1938) saw the beginning of the fund which eventually materialised as the Pykett Building.

Post-War (1945-1954)

Rev. Fred David reorganized the ACSP in 1945. Bishop Edwin Ferdinand Lee moved Primary School (Standards 1-6) to the Suffolk House while the Secondary section stayed at Westlands Road with the intention of providing the upper forms with more adequate facilities.

A new laboratory, named after Rev. Pykett was built in response to the new demand made by the Government that all secondary schools teach science.

In 1949, Dr Ho Seng Ong became the first Asian principal of ACSP. The following year witnessed the beginning of the Post School Certificate (present Form Six). In 1961, Form Six became co-educational. However, only Arts subjects were taught in those days. The system was to prepare students for University of Malaya Entrance Examination and further education overseas.

In 1951, the teaching of Malay language was introduced and was subsequently made a compulsory subject. Chinese and Tamil were introduced and offered in the School Certificate Examination.

The Dental Clinic began to function in 1953 at Suffolk House with part of the equipment donated by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

Modern MBS

The Suffolk House was rapidly deteriorating and a new building was necessary to provide more accommodations and better teaching facilities. The Department of Education gave a grant of $50 000 towards a new building at 250, Ayer Itam Road (present location). Dr H. H. Peterson, the principal launched a fundraising campaign to raise funds and received overwhelming response. In the same year (Oct 1954), building operations began.

In May 1955, the first block of 12 classrooms was completed. In June 1955, the Right Honourable Mr Malcolm MacDonald, Commissioner General of Southeast Asia declared open the first new block. The second phase of the building project, consisting of 14 classrooms, an administrative block, five laboratories, an art and craft room and a library was completed in 1956, and was declared open on December 15 the same year by Dr N. K. Menon. The top floor of the new administrative block houses the Shaw Hall. The sum of $50 000 was presented to the school by Messrs. Shaw Brothers Ltd. to meet the cost of the assembly hall. With the completion of the new building, the entire secondary school was moved to Air Itam and the primary school to Pykett Avenue, thus becoming two separate schools. The secondary school was renamed the Methodist Boys' School and the primary school Pykett Methodist School in 1957.

In 1963, a fundraiser was started to acquire the money necessary to build the library and theaterette. Events such as a stage performance, combined with Methodist Girls' School, and two fun fairs in 1963 and 1966 were held to raise funds. The Ministry of Education gave $25 000 and the Lee Foundation presented $50 000 in memory of Tan Sri Lee Kong Chian's father. The new block was named Bangunan Lee Kuo Chuan and comprises an air-conditioned theatre, the general library, and the art-and-craft room. The Minister of Education, Mohammad Khir Johari declared it open in 1967.

In 1964, the MBS 2nd.& 20th. George Town South Troop Scout Den had also been completed due to the efforts of the scouts in raising funds.

For a long time Suffolk House was used as a canteen. However, in 1975, the House was declared unsafe and was vacated. The school then planned a two-storey block, comprising a canteen on the ground floor and a gymnasium on the upper floor. However, fundraising projects enabled the construction of only the canteen to be successfully completed in 1973.

Approaching the New Century (1991-2001)


The year 1991 marked the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Methodist Boys' School, Penang, one of the very few schools in Malaysia to have had celebrated its centenary. In the words of former principal, Mr Lim Yeang Phai, "a hundred years is not too long a period in history, but for a school, it is adequate for it to attain maturity in all aspects."

To commemorate the significant event, a grand celebration was organized. The Centennial Celebration started on June 2, 1991 with the Games Carnival which was opened by Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Lim Cheng Chuan. On June 6, 1991, then State Executive Councillor Datuk Kee Phaik Cheen officially opened the Centenary Exhibition showcasing the past history and glory of MBS. On the following day, MBS was honoured to have the presence of its illustrious son, Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to launch the Centennial Celebration officially. He also ceremoniously unveiled the centenary Bell Tower. The Bell Tower which cost RM 20 000 was donated by well-known philanthropist Datuk Khaw Bian Cheng who was an alumnus of MBS. The design of the tower as well as the centenary corner was conceived by another old boy, architect Mr Oh How Tat. On the night of the next day, the Grand Centennial Dinner took place at the school field. As many as 167 tables were put to place. Among the dignitaries who graced the historic occasion were the Chief Minister and Senator Dr Sak Cheng Lum.

For the first time in recent memory, MBS emerged first in the Penang State Science and Technology Competition and Exhibition in 2000 at Polytechnic Seberang Perai in the Chemistry category. The winning project was aluminum recycle. The Biology team, meanwhile, won a consolation prize.

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