Wesleyan missionary Rev. George Baugh was the founder of Richmond College , which began its existence on 1st May, 1876 Rev. Samuel Langdon was its first principal. The School was started with a staff of 8 and with 104 pupils on the roll.

Latin, Mathematics, Science, Arts and Religion were included in the curriculum, and children were trained to sit for British Public examinations. A prize giving was held in its very first year, and a library with 500 books was opened in 1878.

From these facts, it is evident that from the beginning, Richmond was conducted as a comprehensive educational Institution. The school which originally bore the name ” Galle High School “, was renamed Richmond College ” in 1882.

The first College magazine was published in 1887. It was only the second occasion that a school in Ceylon had produced a magazine. The same year, the English Literary Union was formed and cricket was started in the school. In 1894, under the principal ship of Rev. Hartley, the Old Boys’ Association was formed. Another important occurrence during that year was the establishment of the College Cadet Corps.

Rev. James Horne Darrel assumed duties as principal in 1896. Under his brilliant leadership, the school experienced both physical expansion as well as qualitative growth. During his period, Richmond rose to be recognized as one of the best schools in the island. At the local Cambridge Examinations of 1905, Richmond earned top position among assisted schools and second place among all schools in Ceylon . The same year, the Richmond – Mahinda Match was played for the first time, with the two principals, Rev. Darrell of Richmond and Mr. F. L. Woodward of Mahinda, officiating as umpires.

Rev. W. J. T. Small who became principal following the death of Rev. Darrell, continued the good work begun by his predecessor.

Commerce was introduced as a subject in 1912. This was also the year in which Football was started at Richmond . In 1915, the 2nd Galle ( Richmond ) Scouts Group was established. Scouting at Richmond enjoyed remarkable success from the beginning. The first two King’s Scouts in the island were produced by Richmond . In 1916, Ceylon ‘s first Cub Pack was started at Richmond .

A notable event during Rev. Small’s period was the formation of the National Association at Richmond in 1915. It was in effect a forum within the school for the emerging nationalist movement. It is perhaps the best example of the liberality of the thinking of Rev. Small.

In 1922, Rev. Alec Sneath took over the principalship of Richmond College . He was responsible for many measures which brought refinement and qualitative development to the school.

In 1926, a well equipped library was established in a new building. The Science Society was started the same year. In 1931, the Sinhala Literary Union came into being.

In 1940, the last of the missionary principals left, leaving the school in the hands of local graduates.

Mr. E. R. de Silva, an old boy of the school, had the distinction of becoming the first Ceylonese principal of Richmond . This was a period which saw major changes in the educational structure of Ceylon . The Free Education Scheme which was devised by Mr. C. W. W. Kannangara, an illustrious old boy of Richmond , was being implemented, and the school had to be geared to suit the changes. Mr. A. S. Weerasinghe succeeded him and carried on the same traditions.

In 1962, Richmond College , which was owned by the Methodist Mission, was nationalized. Mr. D. G. Welikala, the first head of Richmond under state management, was also its first Buddhist principal. With the take over, the Methodist Vernacular School on Richmond Hill was amalgamated with Richmond.

During this period, considerable expansion and change had to take place to cater to the new situation. Richmond faced the challenge of transition so successfully that the then Minister of Education commended Richmond on several occasions, describing it as a model institution among nationalized schools.

Richmond was one of the first schools in the island to start the teaching of Agriculture as a subject. In 1969, she became the first school in the country to start an Agricultural stream for the Advanced Level.


In 1976, Richmond celebrated her centenary. In terms of the provisions of the White Paper on Education, Richmond was named as a National School in 1986.