Penang Free School


Penang Free SchoolPenang Free School (29 January, 2005)




The Penang Free School is the oldest English-language school open to children of commoners in Southeast Asia. The person who is credited with leading the idea of setting up such a school was Reverend Sparke Hutchings, and the proposal was forwarded to the Governor of the then Prince of Wales Island in 1815.

The original plan, which was proposed by a committee set up by the Governor, called for two schools, one for boys, another for girls. Care was to be taken in providing secular education, and the sentiments of parents against any Christian teachings should be respected. Fees were collected only from those who could afford it. Children whose Malay and Indian parents do not wish for their children to be taught English could be taught in their own languages.

Penang Free School fieldPenang Free School field (29 January, 2005)




Those were the plans but they were never carried out in their entirety. A school was set up, on 21 October 1816, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the demise of Captain Francis Light. It was housed in Love Lane, and at other rented premises, while awaiting the completion of the building in Church Square. As expected, the name Penang Free School created a misunderstanding. Many parents thought "free" means free from fees, but actually, the "free" means the school is "open to all".

As initially planned, within Penang Free School are the Malay school and Tamil school to conduct classes in the pupils' own languages. These were started in 1821, but lasted only a few years, although there was a branch of the Malay school in Gelugor that remained until 1863.

Up until 1897, the Penang Free School comprised a few isolated buildings that took up all the land granted to it. At the same time, a permanent building was under construction. It was a symmetrical structure to be built in two phases. The first phase was completed in 1896, and was the wing closest to the St. George's Anglican Church. The remaining wing was completed in 1906.

Penang Free School pavilionPenang Free School field and pavilion (29 January, 2005)


With the completion of the permanent building, those isolated structures were demolished, allowing the school to have its own football field for the first time. With the passing of the Constitution of Free School, all instructions were given in English and no native languages were taught.

By 1919, even the permanent buildings were already overcrowded. It required space for science laboratories, workshops and a gymnasium. There was a suggestion to move the upper forms to a new premises on the outskirts of town, leaving the lower forms in the original building. At the request of the Board of Trustees, the Old Frees Association convened and decided to rename the original school as Hutchings School, after the school's original founder.

Meanwhile, a 30-acre site at Green Lane (Jalan Masjid Negeri) was identified for the new Penang Free School premises. It will have a school complex that includes quarters for the senior staff. Construction began in 1924, and was officially opened on 9 January 1925 by Ralph Scott, Resident Councillor of Penang.

Within the grounds of the Penang Free School is the two-storey Straits-style bungalow for the residence of the headmasters of the school. After being empty for some years, it was recently refurbished and turned into a hostel and homestay programme known as Puspahome Homestay and Event House.



When D.R. Swaine was principal, the House System was introduced for its extra-curricular activities, resulting in the creation of the following houses: Cheeseman, Hamilton, Hargreaves, Pinhorn and Wu Lien Teh House. Under this system, the student is attached to the house until he leaves school. With this system, and the rivalry generated, it is hoped that the student will take a keener interest in games.

The Second World War had a disruptive effect on the Penang Free School, although it remained intact throughout the war, even though its former premises, the Hutching School (now housing the Penang State Museum), lost a wing to Allied bombing. One of the most famous students of the school after the war ended was P. Ramlee, Malaysia's most famous entertainer, who studied there from 1945 to 1947. It was used as the headquarters of the Indian National Liberation Army. When it finally reopened after the war in 4 October 1945, the school had lost much of its furniture and prized documents.

Further improvements to the school included the building of new classrooms in 1991, which enabled single session school since that year. The school's main entrance arch was built and declared open in September 1979.

Penang Free School classroomsPenang Free School classrooms (29 January, 2005)

Headmasters of the Penang Free School

  1. 1816-1821: Mr. J. Cox
  2. 1821-1822: Mr. Churcher
  3. 1822-1826: Mr. Porter
  4. 1826-1828: Mr. Anchant
  5. 1828-1843: Mr. J. C. Smith
  6. 1843-1846: Mr. Bruton
  7. 1846-1853: Mr. Fitzgerald
  8. 1853-1871: Mr. J. Clark
  9. 1871-1891: Mr. G. Griffin
  10. 1891-1904: Mr. W. Hargreaves
  11. 1904-1925: Mr. R. H. Pinhorn
  12. 1925-1926: Mr. W. Hamilton
  13. 1927-1928: Mr. D. R. Swaine
  14. 1928-1929: Mr. L. W. Arnold
  15. 1929-1931: Mr. D. W. McLeod
  16. 1931-1933: Mr. M. R. Holgate
  17. 1934-1946: Mr. L. W. Arnold
  18. 1947-1949: Mr. D. Roper
  19. 1949-1950: Mr. M. F. Crocopile
  20. 1950-1951: Mr. P. F. Howitt
  21. 1951-1957: Mr. J. E. Todt
  22. 1957-1963: Mr. J. M. B. Hughes
  23. 1963-1969: Mr. Tan Boon Lin
  24. 1969-1971: Mr. Poon Poh Kong
  25. 1972-1974: Mr. K. G. Yogam
  26. 1974-1979: Dr. Goon Fatt Chee
  27. 1979-1983: Mr. R. Visvanathan, P.J.K.
  28. 1983-1988: Mr. G. Krishna Iyer
  29. 1988-1993: Mr. Goh Hooi Beng
  30. 1993-2000: Mr. Hj. Ismail bin Ibramsa
  31. Jan 2000-Dec 2000: Mr. Abdul Rahman
  32. 2001-2006: Mr. Arabi Sulaiman, P.K.T.
  33. 2006-2006: Mr. Mohd Yusof bin Omar
  34. 2006-2012: Mr. Hj. Ramli bin Din
  35. 2012-present: Mr Jalil bin Saad

Penang Free School House Colours

The students at Penang Free School are split into six houses namely Cheeseman (red), Hamilton (yellow), Hargreaves (brown), Pinhorn (blue), Tunku Putra (orange) and Wu Lien Teh (green).

Roads named after Penang Free School Headmasters

The roads named after past headmasters of the Penang Free School include Cheeseman Road, Hamilton Road, Hargreaves Road, Hutchings Garden and Pinhorn Road. Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and Wu Lien Teh Road are two of the roads in Penang named after prominent former students of the school.

Nearby Sights

  1. Puspahome Homestay & Event House
  2. Green Lane McDonald's
  3. Trinity Methodist Church
  4. Penang State Mosque

Penang Free School gateThe Penang Free School main gate which was declared open on 29 September 1979 (22 January, 2005)


Getting there

The nearest bus stop is along Green Lane in front of the school. The bus stop is served by Rapid Penang bus 102, 206 and 304.

Location of the Penang Free School

List of Schools in Penang and Schools in Malaysia

Traveling somewhere? Get your hotel room at Agoda!

Latest Pages & Updates on this website



Have GPS Will Travel

Find out how having a GPS Navigator device will help you explore more precisely, without requiring an Internet connection, anywhere in Malaysia!

Read About It !

Shop for a GPS !


Your Made-In-Penang guide to visit, discover and enjoy Malaysia and Singapore!

My mission with this website is to provide you the most detailed information of the places I've research, many accompanied with my own photographs. It's information I hope you'd find useful. It's not just about Penang, but about other cities too, including Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Johor Bahru, Ipoh, Alor Setar, Taiping, Klang, Sungai Petani and more. I have also written about major tourist destinations such as Langkawi and Cameron Highlands, as well as smaller destinations such as Kuala Sepetang. So are all the states in Malaysia - Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu. And also Singapore too!

Visiting Penang? Consider a "Friend of Penang Travel Tips" hotel !

The Friends of Penang Travel Tips Hotels are hotels that maintain a close working relationship with this website. So, I know these hotels better than the rest in Penang. If you're looking for a hotel room in Penang, you do well to consider them.

Mainstream Hotels with 100 guestrooms and above: Cititel Express, Cititel Hotel Penang, Copthorne Orchid Hotel, Hotel Equatorial Penang, Olive Tree Hotel, Parkroyal Penang Resort, Sunway Hotel Georgetown and The Wembley.
Small Hotels with less than 100 guestrooms: Le Dream Boutique Hotel, Spices Boutique Residence, Sweet Cili Hotel

About me

My name is and Penang Travel Tips is my website - yay! I created this website to satisfy my own curiosity about the world around me, but I'm glad the information I've assembled can be helpful to others. As a Christian, my hope is that through this website, the sunshine of God's Good News can beam into every corner of the world and connect with every living soul needing it. To get in touch with me, complete the contact form right here. Thanks for visiting!

Social Media Presence

To interact with me, LIKE my Penang Travel Tips FB Page and Places To Go FB Page, and join any/all of my Facebook Pages and Groups including Penang Travel Tips FB Group, Exploring Malaysia, Big World Out There, My Little Bookshelf, Learn Penang Hokkien, Penang Street Art, Penang Hawker Food, Penang Restaurant Food, Masa Masak, Penang Residential Properties and Armchair Traveler.

Even more sights to discover on Penang Travel Tips!

Disclaimer

I try my best to provide you the latest and most accurate information. However, please bear in mind that details change all the time, often before I have the chance to update them. Therefore, I would always encourage you to phone in and re-verify the information. I do apologize if the information I provide to you turns out to be inaccurate or outdated, and I would be most grateful if you would could help to update me should you discover the right information. Your feedback helps other users.

Using the information and photos on this website

You are allowed to print out any page of this website to carry with you on your travels, for your own personal use. You may reference and link to any page of this website from your blog/website without seeking my permission. You are NOT ALLOWED to copy and paste, word-for-word, the information of this website into your own blog or website. Photos belonging to me (those captioned © Timothy Tye) may only be used with my permission. Photos belonging to other people bear licenses that have to be observed accordingly. Contact me to seek permission or to ask a question.



Copyright © 2003-2016 Timothy Tye. All Rights Reserved.