Potchefstroom Gimnasium or Potch Gim or Gimmies, is an old school for the old Transvaal in the oldest town in the old Transvaal, on the banks of the Mooi River in the world of Sarie Marais, though the Midlands of Natal and the Uitenhage District also have an interest in the girl of the famous song..
Potchefstroom on the Mooi River, an attractive town, claims to be the oldest town in the old Transvaal and was once the capital of the Boer republic. Its name a bit of a mystery. The commonest belief is that it is called after potsherds (potscherf) found near the river – stroom.
The other suggestion is that it takes its name from the man who saw to the first settlement, Andries Potgieter, the Voortrekker leader – the name being a combination of ‘Pot’ Potgieter, ‘chef’ ‘chief’ of his Voortrekker group and ‘stroom’ stream. He established the settlement in 1838 on the banks of the stream, known as the Mooi River, where he took his oath of office as first President of the Transvaal Republic.
The new town was the subject of the Sand River Convention allowing the area north of the Vaal River (The Transvaal) to become an independent republic, thus making it the Transvaal’s oldest Voortrekker town.
It became for 17 years the capital of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek. Potchefstroom, where the national flag of the Transvaal Republic, the Vierkleur, was hoisted for the first time, was the first capital of the republic. Pretoria, as the seat of government, gradually assumed pre-eminence and the town on the Mooi River eventually had to relinquish its status.
Among other Transvaal firsts that Potchefstroom could claim were the first Afrikaans and English-medium churches, the first qualified teacher to set up school, the first printing press, the first experimental farm, and the first shot in the war of 1880-1881 between the Transvaal and Britain.
Since the 1930s it has been a centre of the gold industry, agriculture and education – lots of education. The Gereformeerde Kerk transferred its theological seminary, established in 1869, from Burgersdorp to Potchefstroom in 1905 and the institution developed into the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education. It is now a part of the North West University.
The school, 98 years old this year, was founded in January 1907 as Die Voorbereidende Skool with HJJ van der Walt as its first principal, not that he was long there. The preparation work which the schools did was in getting young men ready for theological studies. After all the seminary had been moved to Potchefstroom two years earlier.
On 25 January 1915, the school changed its name to Goeverrement Skool. A year later it became the first school to start using Afrikaans as well as Dutch and English. In 1918 it became solely a high school and changed its name to Potchefstroom Gimnasium.
The schools started playing rugby in 1918. From its early days it has won trophies – Blaine Cup (1920), Davey Cup (1928), Jacob Wilkens Cup (1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1963, 1967, 1984, 1985, 2000). In 2004 it won the Beeld Trophy. The Jacob Wilkens Cup was started in 1944. Volkies won it for the first seven years and then Gimmies for the next four. Gimmies lost in the final of the Administrator’s cup in 1953 and 1954,
Die Fakkel knocked Gimmies out in the semi-final in 1855 and in 1956 HTS Vereeniging beat them 6-5 in the final. Brandwag beat them in 1966 but ion 1967 Gimmies won the Administrator’s Cup for the first time. Eddy Williams was the captain and a member of the team was James Stoffberg, the present president of the Leopards RFU. The coach in thos golden years was Oom Feel Visser.
In the last five years, Gimmies have won the :Potchefstroom League four times. The resent team were champions as they moved up the school in their age groups.
The school has nine rugby teams, which means it is classified a Medium School for rugby competition. It has regularly sent players to Craven Week.
Just one Old Boy has become a Springbok – Theo van Rensburg, the versatile back of the Nineties. Pietman van Niekerk, the Lions and Cats prop, who has played for South Africa in age-group teams is a prominent rugby Old Boy.
They are above all Potch Volkies but also Lichtenburg.
Name: Potchefstroom Gimnasium
Motto: Fac et Spera (Act and Stay Hopeful)
Number of pupils: 1056 of whom 461 are boys
Address: 20 Molen Street, Potchefstroom/ PO Box 20042, Noordbrug 2522