People: Mr. R.H. Pinhorn

 

Headmaster PFS
(1904-1925)

One of the most unforgettable character in the history of the Penang Free School which will be celebrating its Sesquicentenarry on October 21st this year was the late Mr. Ralph Henry Pinhorn, O.B.E, a graduate of the Oxford University with an M.A. degree who had been the headmaster of the school for more than a quarter of a century.

During the Centenary celebration on October 21st 1916, Mr. Pinhorn was the recipient of many congratulatory letters from the well-wishers of the school, both at home and abroad. He was a man of intelligence and culture, well-read and well informed as indeed his profession demanded he should be.

The most obvious feature of his character was his stern discipline and he was very much loved and respected by the pupils and teachers as well. His circle of friends greatly admired him for his geniality, modesty and humility. Dignified in appearance, his capacity to act in full awareness of the great question that was all meant by education, took a heavy toll of his time and energy. When the Government took over the school in 1920, Mr. Pinhorn was assisted by the late Mr. H. R. Cheeseman, C.M.G., better known as the Cheeseman of Malaya, a highly competent teacher of fine personality, whom we greatly appreciated for his precious advice at all levels towards improving the education policy of the school. Many and various methods were designed and pursued in education and the progress had been most remarkable.

English literature was his favourite subject. He encouraged the students to join the Penang Library, to read widely the literary works of famous authors, to write simple good English and avoid the pedantic style. As a disciplinarian, he thoroughly schooled the boys to display good manners on and off the playing fields in the name of the school. Flogging with a cane was a feature of school life and the delinquents were severely punished by him without exceptions.

Under his able guidance, the school created an excellent record of having scored six out of the eight winners in the Queen’s Scholarship examination. On every Speech Day, with the black robes blowing about his legs, it was characteristic of him in his annual report to mention specially the invaluable services rendered by his staff in making the PFS worthy of its name.

For his devotion to duty, loyalty , long and meritorious services, he was bestowed with a well-deserved honour of the Order of the British Empire by the late King George V, a shining testimonial to the qualities of headmastership. The school’s management to treasure Mr. Pinhorn’s loving memory as a great headmaster, had set up several memorials, namely school prizes in English Language and Literature, History and the School House in games and the Library. The City Council had fittingly named a road Pinhorn Road.

Finally, he retired from the service in 1924 and left behind him sterling examples. After spending some years in happy retirement, he passed way peacefully in England in 1938. The Lord gave and the Lord took away.

 

By A.R.Ibrahim from Penang Free School Magazine 1966

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