222 Queen Street + 51 Waterloo Street: History
The Sino-English Catholic School was founded by the late Reverend Father Edward Becheras in 1935, within the premises of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul. Despite being a Catholic school, it was open to non-Catholic students as well; additionally, Father Becheras was one of the first educators to highlight the importance of bilingual competence. For its time, the school provided state-of-the-art facilities, such as well-stocked and fully equipped laboratories and classrooms – this, together with their emphasis on equal opportunity, led to the school gaining a reputation for quality education.
In 1936, a three-storey building was constructed at 222 Queen Street to cope with the increased enrolment. Students were accepted from all over Malaya, and many dignitaries, Catholic leaders and recognised public figures attended the school’s grand opening. After World War II, the number of students enrolled increased yet again. To ease the overcrowding, an extension was built on 51 Waterloo Street, which included an auditorium, staff rooms, and audio-visual equipment, among many others.
The campus was divided into the Upper and Lower Secondary and Primary buildings: the Primary building now houses the Singapore Art Museum (SAM at 8Q), cafes, and dance schools; the Secondary buildings are next to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (222 Queen Street and 51 Waterloo Street). Since it was in the CBD area and there was no field, PE lessons used to be held in church grounds – students used to run around the church.
The school also changed its name to Catholic High School, and is now a well-established all-boy’s educational establishment in Singapore, famously known for being the alma mater of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In 1992, the school moved to its current location in Bishan.
Shortly after, the old Catholic High compound was redeveloped into an arts centre. One of the successful private developers, Daniel Teo (chairman of real estate group Hong How Group), was a Catholic High student from 1956 to 1961.
Although the buildings have since been repurposed, the name of the school still remains on the wall as a tribute to its history. Two of the former pillars at the entrance of the school were also retained.