The first school founded in Bandra after Bombay passes on to the English was St. Andrew’s Parish School, Started by the Vicar, Fr. Francisco de Mello in 1780. It was started mainly to teach Catechism to the children of the parish. However by 1782 Portuguese was also being taught, as in the personal accounts of Fr. de Mello of March 1782 it is stated that he purchased 26 copies of Gramatical Portuguza, which cost him Rs.21/2.
Then in 1864 the structure was enlarged and more benches were added, indicating that the school had prospered and increased from these small beginnings by the time the year 1839 rolled in it was so far advanced that it could not be managed by the Parish Priest alone, for between 1839 and 1843 a Mestre Henriques, a lay teacher, was engaged to teach “reading, writing and grammar.” The Parish Priest concentrated on religious instruction to the students.
This carried on to 1850 when the vicar of St. Andrew’s Church was allowed two assistants, and therefore, there was no need of lay teacher. The above information has been garnered from the diary of Fr.Manuel Anthony Fonseca, who returned from Goa in 1857 after completing his ecclesiastical course there. He was appointed curate of St. Andrew’s Church and teacher of the school with Fr. Elias Fernandes, then only a seminarist as assistant.
In 1882 in the Bombay Gazetteer it is mentioned that the school had a strength of 125 boys who were taught Latin and Portuguese. About the beginning of the 20th century, Portuguese was dropped and English took its place. The Old building being absolutely inadequate for the growing need of the parish, a new building was erected in its place in 1911, with the help of a munificent donation from Mrs. M. Cardeaux and with the help of the church funds and public subscription.
In 1913 Fr. Roque Fernandes, MA took charge of the school and it was his desire to get the school recognized as a High School. In 1916 it was recognized by the Government, two years later it was raised to middle school and towards the end of 1919 it was formally registered as a High School and affiliated to the Bombay University. The first batch of students appeared for the Matriculation in 1921.
It is astonishing to note the progress the School made in an departments during the seven years of its existence, when the following report was made in the Thana District Gazette of June 15, 1923. “Its record is particularity brilliant, it having encountered and overcome such formidable old war – horse like St, Mary’s St. Xavier and the B.E.I. Institute. Without overlooking the fostering care of the School authorities, and the splendid co –operation existing between the staff, the pupils, and the guardians, great as both these factors have been, we must acknowledge that the greatest credit is due to the teachers who have put their heart and soul into their work and shown what a band of young people can do only imbued with the right spirit”.
The building proved to be entirely inadequate for the growing number of children, and the classes had therefore, to be accommodated in three separate buildings, the present Bosco Hall, being devoted to the higher standards in 1924 it was decide to have a bigger building and a move was made to secure suitable land for the same. The then Parish Priest, Msgr. Dominic de Sa negotiated with the newly formed Salsette Catholic Society Housing, and obtained a large plot of land of four acres in exchange for various scattered plots in the newly found society. The fifth was purchased.
The Foundation stone was blessed by Rt. Revd. Msgr, S.O. Xavier, administrator of the Diocese and was declared well and truly laid by Sir Norman Macleod the Chief justice of Bombay, on 28th April 1926. And on completion at cost of about a little over two lakhs the stone building, now endearingly called “Dugdhi School”, was formally declared open on 4th December 1927 by Sir Leslie Wilson, Governor of Bombay
(Extracts from “ Bandra – its Religious and Secular History” by Braz A. Fernandes, Bombay 1927).
Msgr. Dominic DeSa
The famous “Dugdi” school – St Andrew High School, Bandra was due to the foresight and vision of Msgr Dominic DeSa. He was born on January 4, 1880 in Agashi, Virar. After completing his studies in Marathi, he joined the Damaun Seminary. He was ordained by His Grace Dom Sebastian Jose Pereira, Archbishop of Damaun at the Colaba Chapel on June 29, 1904. He served as Assistant first at Mahim, and various other places even as far as Damaun and Matheran.
He was appointed Diocesan Censor in 1918 and Vicar of St Andrew’s Church, Bandra.
The other ‘co-architect’ of this project was Mr Joseph Salvador Pereira (popularly known as J S Pereira) who was Principal at that time. He received his early education in St. Andrew, and later shifted to St Xavier’s High School and graduated from St Xavier’s College.
He joined St Andrew’s High School as Principal in 1920. The School was formally registered as a High School and affiliated to the Bombay University towards the end of 1919. Having five acres of land, it was decided to build a new building and shift the school from its former premises near St. Andrew’s Church, and an impressive stone edifice was erected with playgrounds. However the playgrounds have diminished as the land was used to build St Andrew College.
The foundation stone of the school building was laid on 28th April 1926. The school was designed by Messrs W.A. Chambers & Co., Architects, to accommodate 700 pupils. “JS” as he was affectionately known was instrumental in planning all the details that went into making the stone building, a modern English School. An important aspect of this planning was building the School in an East-West direction to ensure that most of the classrooms remained cool through the day and dry throughout the monsoons. He was also responsible for laying out the vast playgrounds. The playgrounds – the largest in Bandra – has nurtured many sporting heroes, local and international.
Many ex-students may recall seeing in the school lobby a working model of the solar system. The planets were made out of brass, and could revolve around the sun and the whole model was enclosed in a glass case. This was probably the School’s first visual aid and was acquired by ‘JS’ from London for the school.