serjbal land

History of Serjbal Property

Historical Overview of the British Boys’ School in Lebanon and Serjbal Property

We would like to thank Amine Daouk, former Chairman of the BHSCS, for preserving the original documents relating to the Serjbal property and entrusting us with them. We have made copies and one copy is deposited at Friends’ House. They are also scanned and published below.

Following the dissolution of Victoria College (which provided British public school education) in Alexandria and Cairo in 1956, there was a demand for a school in the Middle East to be run on British public school lines, bearing in mind that the Gulf area was under British influence during that period. The proposal was warmly welcomed by most influential people in Lebanon, who supported this idea in unprecedented unity.

The British School in Lebanon (BSL) project was initiated in 1956 in order to establish a school for boys in Lebanon. The first meeting was at the Presidential Palace on 5 September 1956 under the auspices of the President of the Lebanese Republic, H.E. President Camille Chamoun, and the British Ambassador, H.E. Sir George Humphrey Middleton, who were the trustees. The trustees in turn appointed a board of governors of 3-11 persons, half appointed by the President and half by the British Ambassador.

The licence to open the school was given in Presidential Decree no. 1468, dated 10 June 1959, and signed by the Prime Minister of the Lebanese Republic, H.E. Rashid Karami, and the Minister of Education, H.E. Pierre Gemayel.

Based on a school of 270 boarders and 90 day boys the cost of building was expected to be £400,000. Initially, contributions of £187,000 were received: £120,000 from the British Government, £30,000, £20,000 and £10,000 from their Highnesses the rulers of Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar respectively and £7,000 from other sources. This left a shortfall of £213,000, for which an appeal was launched in 1961.

The funds received were held in trust, and part of the money was used to buy the Serjbal property, which is a picturesque scenic mountain site some seven kilometres from the coast at Damour, at a price of LL 567,924.25 (purchased in stages from 1956). The firm Farmer and Dark, in partnership with Assem Bey Salam, were engaged as architects, and detailed plans were drawn up. They were paid a fee of LL 158,611.70. It was originally thought that the area was 191,000m2 (according to an aerial survey carried out during the French mandate), but it turned out to be much larger at 588,000m2.

For various reasons, including failure to reach the target figure of £400,000, the project was abandoned in 1963. After paying for the property, architects and associated expenses, a sum of LL 1,529,850.69 remained in trust. The BSL Board decided to donate the remaining funds for the expansion of Brummana High School (BHS). This funded the BHS Development Programme, and three buildings were built: Edinburgh House, Little Building and the Arts and Crafts Block. The cost of the buildings turned out to be greater than the donation, so BHS paid the balance of LL 32,928.16. In consideration of this, the Serjbal property, along with liabilities (including LL 18,046 owing to BHS for furniture and equipment), was offered to BHS by the BSL Board. BHS accepted ownership of the land in a letter dated 25 October 1971 signed by Nuhad Es-Said, Chairman of the BHS Committee, and Barty Knight, Principal and Honorary Secretary to the BHS Committee. The property was formally donated to BHS in 1973 and has remained in agricultural use since then.

Minutes of Meetings


Various Correspondence