We've got news for you.

Register on HeraldLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Woodridge rises from the ashes in true phoenix style

“Out of tragedy comes opportunity” was the approach the Woodridge College and Preparatory School leadership adopted as it undertook the R120-million project to rebuild the campus after last year’s devastating fires.
And with only the finishing touches to be completed on the new dining hall, the reinvented Woodridge campus will have been completed in little over a year – and in time to welcome pupils back from their mid-term break.
In June last year, runaway veld fires which swept through the Kouga and Nelson Mandela Bay areas destroyed about 50% of the elite private school’s campus. No one was injured.
The atmosphere on campus was gloomy at the time but a renewed sense of vigour and excitement has gripped the school over the past six weeks as temporary structures were taken down almost daily, college principal Derek Bradley said.
Among the buildings destroyed were 13 staff houses and flats, three classrooms and the girls’ preparatory hostel which had housed 29 pupils.
The kitchen and dining hall, library, administration block as well as six classrooms and offices were also engulfed by the flames.
The new facility boasts 16 new staff homes, an assembly hall, music and drama building, kitchen and dining hall, girls’ and boys’ hostels, 15 classrooms, a hospital and a library.
“It was only once we started that we realised that out of tragedy comes opportunity,” Bradley said.
“We had a chance to reinvent the school.
“Over the last 30 years buildings were erected as needed and one loses focus of the design and aesthetic for the school.
“Through this rebuild we were able to go back to original architecture, like the Woodridge arches. The sense of excitement is definitely alive and well at the college.“With the school having basically been a construction site for the last year, we are all excited about the new additions, but are also looking forward to having a sense of normality,” Bradley said.
He credited 1976 Woodridge matriculant Ray Holmes and his team of about 400 workers with the remarkably quick rebuild.
Holmes said previously that it was a huge honour to give back to his alma mater in a way few rarely are able to do.
Preparatory principal Trevor von Berg said a sense of excitement had been building on campus.
“On Tuesday next week, we will serve food in the new kitchen, conduct teaching in the new classrooms and be using the facilities,” he said.
“It is an extremely exciting time for the school.
“When one looks back to a year ago, the school looked like a war zone and to see the progress and where we are now is incredible and has filled us all with a renewed sense of positivity.”

FREE TO READ | Just register if you’re new, or sign in.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@heraldlive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.