IT was in 1891 when ‘Pykett came to blaze the trail’.
Rev G.F. Pykett, a Christian missionary, was one of the two pillars behind the establishment of Methodist Boys’ School (MBS) in Penang, the country’s first Methodist school.
Despite having moved several times from its original site at a lonely rented house on Carnarvon Street to its present premises on Jalan Air Itam, the school has stood the test of time — its proud heritage remaining strong and continuing to grow.
In conjunction with MBS’ 120th anniversary this year, a three-gallery Heritage Centre has been constructed in the school’s new Form Six block.
The centre, with its galleries named after three of MBS’ benefactors, houses many of the school’s artifacts including a treasure trove of photographs and information, valuable art pieces, trophies and even a baby grand piano now being restored.
MBS senior assistant for student affairs Ooi Gim Ewe said the centre was currently 70% complete and would be officially opened during the school’s 120th anniversary dinner on May 28.
“Many of the treasures come from the students and old boys, while others have been acquired from Pykett Methodist School, which is a previous site of MBS.
“Inside the Dr Cheah Hock San Gallery, which is the main entrance of the centre, there is a large 7.3m-long mural painted by Abdullah Ariff, a renowned artist and one of MBS’ former art teachers.
“The watercolour piece is painted on soft board and used to hang in the Pykett Methodist hall,” said Ooi, who is heading the centre project.
The brilliant art piece, which covers one wall of the gallery, was painted in 1951 and depicts the country’s traditional professions during that era.
Painted in clear script at the bottom of the mural are five great quotations from American president Abraham Lincoln.
“Along with the mural, 12 half-moon biblical paintings were also brought over from the Methodist primary school.
“These paintings were done by the ACS Art Club in 1936,” Ooi said.
ACS, which stands for Anglo-Chinese School is MBS’ original name.
Ooi added that MBS had spent RM10,000 to restore all the paintings which included patching up a hole in the main mural that was suspected to be caused by a stray football.
The half-moon artworks, which include paintings of The Annunciation and Jesus Calming the Storm, now line the top of the centre’s Hall of Fame.
Ooi said the 22m-long hall, which joined all three galleries in the centre, was separated into eight categories and showcased 150 of the school’s most famous sons and daughters.
Among them are former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who both attended Form Six at the school.
Among other noted personalities are All-England champions and badminton legends Tan Aik Huang and Datuk Teh Kew San, former CID director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee, local virus buster Dr Looi Hoong Thoong, veteran motor racer Kuan Meng Heng as well as Consumer Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S.M. Mohamed Idris.
Ooi said the Arthur H.C. Khoo Gallery, located on the right side of the centre, would house pictures of MBS staff, prefects and students from the 1950s to the 1990s while the Loh Keng Aun Gallery, on the centre’s left-hand side, featured ‘MBS in the New Millennium’.
MBS Board of Governors chairman Datuk Lim Cheng Chuan said one of the centre’s aims was to provide a space where old students could gather and reminisce.
“We want to have a place that will encourage them to come back and visit the school,” he said.
MBS will celebrate its 120th anniversary with a dinner held at the school field on May 28.
Tickets are priced at RM80 and RM350 each. For more information, contact the school (04-2293986) or Ooi (016-4823595 or firstname.lastname@example.org).