Durgapur St. Xavier’s School – saga of glorious past

St. Xavier's School Durgapur - main entrance gate

St. Xavier’s School Durgapur, has been more than a school for thousands of students over its past 50 years of journey. It is not only the oldest English medium school of Durgapur but is also one of the oldest of Durgapur schools. In its fifty years of journey Durgapur St. Xavier’s has produced numerous intellects who have moved to various parts of the globe making the school and the city of Durgapur proud.

Durgapur St. Xavier’s school, as it stands today was not the place from where it started its journey. The school as we see today has undergone several changes and transformations in the last fifty years. The only thing that never changed for Durgapur St. Xavier’s is its uncompromising attitude towards imparting quality education to its students.

The beginning of Durgapur St. Xavier’s

In 1960, Mr. Bell, the then General Manager of Hindustan Steel Ltd. (now known as Durgapur Steel Plant), requested the Jesuit Provincial Fr. R. Anthoine to establish a school in Durgapur. Here it must be mentioned that Durgapur Steel Plant (DSP) was established in 1959. Mr. Bell offered a small plot of land at the crossing of Sarat Chandra Avenue and Kalidas Road in the Steel Township for the purpose. However, finding it inadequate, the Provincial declined the offer.

This is the frontage of the St. Xavier’s School at MAMC which started in September 1963

The real efforts to start a Jesuit-school in Durgapur began in 1961. The fathers of the Society of Jesus and the Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel, decided to start separate schools for boys and girls simultaneously in the HSL (Hindustan Steel Ltd) township.

Mr. Lahiri, the General Manager of Heavy Engineering Corporation (or HEC, later to be re-named as Mining and Allied Machineries Corporation or MAMC), was more than eager to provide space for the school in his township. Fr. Antoine SJ was invited to come and inspect the new site. Mr. Lahiri proposed Block-3 of Ophthalmic Glass Project (later to be called Bharat Ophthalmic Glass Limited, controlled by MAMC) as a temporary location and later on, a permanent place “as and when” necessary.

But the Jesuit provincial requested guaranty on two points:- a) that it will be a school of the Jesuits with full authority and not a government school run by them and b) the school may be started at the present site but a permanent place must be given for it to develop. Mr. Lahiri readily agreed to both these points.

Fr. Antoine SJ visited the site on 12.02.1963 and was satisfied with the arrangements there. He appointed Fr. Dubois SJ as the Headmaster, to oversee furnishing, appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff and so on. Mr. Lahiri made available the formal documents of the transfer of space for the school in Block-3 and the permission to use some of the A-type quarters of MAMC for the staff.

It was decided that the school will be English-medium, affiliated to Senior Cambridge Board, with boys and girls upto class-IV and from class-V onwards, for boys only.

Thus began the journey of St. Xavier’s School, Durgapur, from a shed in Ophthalmic Glass Project, on the First day of May, 1963 – “the workers’ day”. It soon overcame the discomfiture of its origin in a factory shed. The school was transferred to a permanent primary school building in MAMC on 14.09.1963. Fr. Dubois SJ, along with Sch. A.Crasta SJ, began the stabilizing process, living in a block just across the road.

Search for permanency

This was followed by a frustrating period of looking for an appropriate plot of land where the school could grow unhampered. It was so frustrating that at one point the Jesuit provincial declared, the fathers would pull out off, if no land was made available to them.

But, in mid-1964, Mr. L. Donnelly, the deputy managing director of ACC, Vickers, Babcock Ltd, (or AVB, later to be changed to ABL Ltd and to Alstom, these days), contacted the then Jesuit provincial, Fr. A. Wautier SJ to inform him that, if the Jesuits agreed, he could request the government of West Bengal, to hand over ten acres of land for a school, run by them.

Dr. Dharamsey M. Khatau, Chairman, AVB Ltd. laying the foundation stone of the present St. Xavier's School at AVB Township on 18 February 1966
Dr. Dharamsey M. Khatau, Chairman, AVB Ltd. laying the foundation stone of the present St. Xavier’s School at AVB Township on 18 February 1966

Accordingly, AVB Ltd. surrendered the land to Bengal government, only to be re-leased to the Jesuits for 997 years. On 18 February 1966, the foundation stone of the present building was laid by Dr. Dharamsey M. Khatau, Chairman, AVB Ltd., on a plot of land, adjacent to its residential township.

In January, 1967, the St. Xavier’s School was transferred from the primary school building of MAMC to its new and permanent abode.

A parallel section (for the primary students only) started with the main section (to be overseen by a prefect but under the same headmaster), for the children from DSP-township. It started in 1964, in “Tagore House”. After a few months, the school was transferred to a Primary School building of DSP at Lala Lajpat Rai Road. In 1971, the school was transferred to their own building at Mirabai Road.

However a tussle with DSP authority saw Durgapur St. Xavier’s primary section at Mirabai Road being shifted to this new building.

Some major milestones

Till 1972, Durgapur St. Xavier’s School, was up to class eleven, under the ISC board, with both Science and Humanities streams. It was open to both boys and girls. But as the Carmel Convent, run by the sisters of the Apostolic Carmel, was being upgraded by one standard every year, it became a school for boys only in 1969.

The school celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1988 in grand style, under the supervision of the then headmaster, Fr. A. Wavreil SJ.

Durgapur St. Xavier’s celebrated its Golden Jubilee with programmes throughout the year, which began on 1st May 2012 and continued till the 1st day of May in 2013. It started off on the 1st of May 2012 with a road rally.

The Durgapur St. Xavier’s School – Now

The Durgapur St. Xavier’s has classes from a preparatory KG-class upto Standard-10 with an upcoming plus-two section and a nursery, about to take off in 1913. Except for Class-10, each class has four sections. It is affiliated to the Council for Indian Certificate of Secondary Examination (ICSE). The academic session is from April to March. The admission to KG is in December every year.

The campus covers over 160000 square meters of land with one-third of it full of dense greenery. There is a large football ground, an auditorium, a basketball court and two volleyball courts with yet a lot of un-built space.

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