The tale of our history begins in 1862 when the Divisional Council of Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) granted a license to operate the Cadle Hotel to Henry William Carpenter Cadle.

In 1916, Cadle Hotel ceased to operate and was purchased by Dr George Porter Mathew as a weekend retreat for his family in 1924. Upon Dr Mathew's retirement, his daughter Mervynne Mathew and son-in-law Leslie Carter convinced him that starting a school during the Great Depression was a viable idea. Upon permitting them to pursue their idea, the discussion around the school's name started until they decided on Woodridge, which ideally suits its surroundings.

In January 1936, Woodridge Preparatory School opened its doors to only two boys and a girl on the first day; this was an act of faith and courage by the founders who had no funders at the school's inception. Undaunted, the Carters toured the area to inform the locals of the start of the new school. Only after the Second World War, which ended in 1945, did the numbers increase to the planned maximum of eighty pupils.

In December of 1957, Leslie Carter handed over the ownership of the school to the Woodridge Trust in the hope that what he had started would be perpetuated. In 1965, the need to develop a senior school arose as some parents had difficulty placing their sons in private schools beyond Preparatory education at Woodridge. By the end of that year, a decision was taken to start Woodridge College and develop the school along with the ideals successfully applied at Gordonstoun School in Scotland.

In 1966, the first four Standard 7 (Grade 9) pupils were accepted for Woodridge College, while ten Standard 6 (Grade 8) boys at the Preparatory School were regarded as part of the new school. At the end of that year, Mr Leslie Carter retired, and the Trust appointed Mr Keith Starck to run the College, while Mr Carter's son, Roger, oversaw the Preparatory School.

In 1967, the College officially opened with twenty-seven pupils in Standards 6, 7 and 8 and eighty pupils in the Preparatory School. In 1968, when Mr Carter passed, the first permanent brick structure, named after him, was built. Three years later, in 1971, wooden houses were purchased from the new Van Staden's bridge contractors after the structure was completed. These became, and still are, the nucleus of Kohler House, the boys’ dormitory.

By 1972, the Prep had 110 pupils, while the College had grown to 180 pupils. Initially intended to be a boys' only school, Woodridge Preparatory was seldom without a girl or two – the official policy was that staff daughters and those of neighbours could attend the school up to Standard 3. With increased parents' requests, the first official girls were accepted and matriculated in 1980. Today the girls make up nearly half the total enrolment.

In the early 90s, the school introduced a 'day scholar' option for parents, and today, about 300 pupils are bussed to and from school from various pick-up points within Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) and Kariega (formerly Uitenhage) Jeffreys Bay, Hankey, and St Francis, amongst other locations.

In 2011, the Preparatory School celebrated 75 years, while the College celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. Over the years, both the College and Preparatory School have shown remarkable growth, with numbers reaching just over 700 between the two schools, a far cry from that first day in 1936!


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