Sacred Heart College – History at a Glance

The Marist Brother movement began in France in 1816 in the turbulent wake of the French Revolution. From 1817 Fr. Marcellin Champagnat, accompanied by seven brothers, ran a primary school in the village of La Valla and between them educated children (and some adults) in the basics of reading, writing and Christian teachings at the school and in rural hamlets within the parish. The Marist movement was based on the simple philosophy of service in humility and simplicity through teaching the illiterate children of the poor.

The discovery of pure Gold in 1886 in the City of Johannesburg; South Africa brought about a cosmopolitan community. By the time the first Marist Brothers arrived on the scene in October 1889, a theatre had been established, Waller’s Circus had been in town, the Salvation Army performed in front of dubious audiences, and a regular rash of hotels and bars had thrown open their doors to thirsty drinkers.

By 1889 the first boys’ school in the city of Johannesburg at Koch Street was founded. Within two years the attendance was at 300. Due to the rapid expansion of the school over the years a separate premises were sought in order to separate the primary and high school sections and relieve issues of space.

The foundation stone was laid in 1924 that year and in 1926 in Eckstein Street, Observatory, the high school, Marist College, was opened. In less than ten years the number of children in the high school was over capacity at 400 (equal to the number of children in the primary section at Koch Street) and demand for places led to a second primary school being created in the orchards of the Observatory site.

In the 1960s the rapid urbanisation of Johannesburg saw the Koch street site dwarfed by high rise buildings and surrounded by commercial premises; the Brothers decided to sell up and Koch Street was closed down.

The Marist College at the time was an all boy’s boarding school which later became a Multi – Racial and a co – educational with the amalgamation of Yeoville Convent and St Angela’s Ursuline which took place in 1980’s. The name of the school changed back to Sacred Heart College as it is known today.