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The Royal Medical Benevolent College
and Epsom College, 1889-1914
 
 

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This period spans the headmastership of Rev. T.N. Hart Smith (Smith-Pearse after 1903). In contrast with previous years, this was something of a 'Golden Age' for the College. Rev. Hart-Smith was a strict disciplinarian and the improvement in smartness can be clearly seen in the photographs. At the same time the College Council acquired many distinguished members e.g. the Liberal Prime Minister, the Earl of Rosebery (President), and the leader of the Conservative Party, A.J. Balfour (Vice President). Sir Constantine Holman worked indefatigably to put right the financial problems of the College, while Rev. Hart Smith worked to improve the academic standing of the College and was a great 'builder', creating many of the main buildings in the College. During this period the Lower School (Newsom), the East End of the College Chapel, the Markham Skerritt Building (Physics), the Gym (the modern Library) and many minor buildings were added. Endowed prizes and scholarships multiplied while many of the 1855 generation of Epsomians made important bequests to the College.

This was the period when the College became an important force on the sports field with strong teams for rugby, cricket, hockey, fives and shooting. The Natural History Society throve, while other societies proliferated. In 1911 the College finally burst out of its original identity, finally discarding the original title, "The Royal Medical Benevolent College" and becoming "Epsom College, with a Royal Medical Foundation". The future of the College as a mostly fee-paying Public School was thus assured.

One of Rev. Hart Smiths first actions as headmaster had been to re-establish the Rifle Corps, in 1889. A voluntary Rifle Corps, was soon attached to the Surrey Regiment and, in 1908 became a compulsory part of the army as an Officer Training Corps. The O.T.C. was the focus of the College's loyalty at a time when war with Germany looked more and more inevitable. In October 1914 there were 279 boys in the College, over 2,000 would serve their country during the following years and 155 would pay the penalty for this enthusiasm.