Hartley College was founded in the year 1838. It is one of the brightest stars in the educational firmament of Sri Lanka. She began as an Elementary English school with the name “Wesleyan Mission Central School” and attained Senior Secondary status by the turn of the century with a progress that was phenomenal. The secret of this success was vision and the mission of her Founder his successors and her teachers.

The Founder was the Rev.Dr.Peter Percival, M.A, D.D, a distinguished scholar and Educationist, who later became the Professor of Oriental studies at the University of Madras in India and who compiled the English-Tamil Dictionary and translated the Bible into Tamil.

The School which was subsequently named “Christ Church School” (four decades later), got the present name ‘ Hartley College” in the year 1917 in honour of the Rev. Marshall Hartley who laid the foundation for a Science Laboratory.

Sixteen (16) Principals assisted by resourceful teachers have already served the College gloriously rivaling each other in their devotion and dedication. Of these 16,three merit honourable mention by the length, versatility and significance of their service. First, Mr.J.C.T.Sherrard, who rendered germane and yeoman service as Head master and Assistant Teacher during the period 1875 to 1915. Second, Mr.C.P.Thamotheram who raised the College to the height of excellence in Science, Mathematics and Games during the period 1915 to 1943. Third, Mr. K.Pooranampillai who gave the College’s fame a multi-faceted dimension during his tenure from 1943 to 1967 and still remains the architect of modern Hartley.

Hartley has withstood many a vicissitude – a fatal epidemic in 1850,two world wars, a cyclone in 1960 and two decades of ethnic strife. During the ethnic war, she was displaced from her hallowed precincts by military operations, which burnt her Library with 6,690 volumes of books and caused severe damage to her buildings thereby rendering her a refugee in 1984. Consequently, she was temporarily housed at Puttalai Maha Vidiyalaya – 03 kilometers away – during the period 1985 to 1989. The buildings were handed back by the IPKF to the Principal in 1989 and the entire school was shifted back to the old site in 1990. Nevertheless, the Army went into occupation of part of the premises on 15.05.1996 and withdrew only in late 2002. Yet by the resourcefulness of her teachers and the intelligence and industry of her pupils she continues to remain resplendent in the academic field true to her motto “ FIAT LUX” (Let there be light – The light that will dispel the darkness of ignorance, selfishness and avarice) while her distinguished Alumni, adorning the top echelons of scholarly disciplines and professions both at home and abroad are keeping our Gold and Blue Flag flying as high as ever.

Despite the turmoil in the country, the Past Pupils’ Association in Colombo under the dynamic leadership of its President -late Prof. A.Thurairajah – and its indefatigable Secretary – Mr.Chella Padmanathan – successfully managed to boost the image of Hartley College by issuing a commemorative postage stamp depicting the college colours and crest carrying a denomination of Cents =/75, apart from a dainty wall clock on 5th June,1989 in Colombo for celebrating the 150th year of the College.

The College is now under the leadership of Mr.V.Pathamanathan, who assumed duties as Principal in February, 2003. Despite the peace process which is going on, the school is still under what is known as High Security Zone, there by restricting access to students and teachers only.

Despite the calamities faced by the college over the years, she continued to produce excellent results, a brief synopsis of which is given below.

1979 - 4 get 4 ‘A’ s at AL
1981 - 3 get 4 ‘A’ s at AL and K.Ramakrishnan gets the highest score of 360
1982 - 3 get 4 ‘A’s at AL , only school to get these results in the island and T.Kugarajah obtains the highest aggregate in the island
1988 - 14 get 8 Distinctions in all eight subjects in the OL and 1 obtained 4 ‘A’s in AL
1989 - 29 entered Engineering Faculty and 10 entered Medical Faculty. T.Anandakumar obtains the highest aggregate in the island.
1992 - 25 entered Engineering faculty.
1993 - 1 obtained 4 ‘A’s, in the AL becoming first in the District and 6th in the island.
1994 - 4 got 4 ‘A’s in AL, and one of them R.Muhunthan came 1st in the District and 2nd in the island.
1995 - 2 get 4 ‘A’s in AL.
2002 - K.Thanikaivasan obtains 3 ‘A’s in AL coming first in the District.
2003 - R. Nishanthan obtains 3 ‘A’s in AL, coming 1st in the District and 12th in the island.
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