A Proud History

Established on 19 March 1960 as John Orr Technical High School, the school has a dynamic history dating back to when it was the Witwatersrand Technical College Trade School some 40 years before that and goes even further back to the early part of the 1900’s. The school was named after Professor John Orr, an English engineer who emigrated to the Cape Colony in 1897. At the age of 28, he became the first professor of mechanical and electrical engineering at the Kimberley branch of the South African School of Mines. At the end of 1903 the South African School of Mines moved to Johannesburg to become the Transvaal Technical Institute, where Orr continued to teach from early in 1904 as professor of mechanical and electrical engineering. The institute successively became the Transvaal University College (1906), the South African School of Mines and Technology (1910), the University College of Johannesburg (1920), and finally the University of the Witwatersrand (1922).

All through his life Professor Orr strove for the improvement of educational facilities and was interested in benevolent institutions of all kinds. A true pioneer of South African technical education,  he died in 1954 at the age of 84.

The school to which he gave his name has evolved into a renowned institution with a strong focus on technical education and hospitality.  John Orr was the first school in South Africa to house a fully equipped Hotel School, offering learners market-relevant practical skills. Over the years, it has expanded its offerings and now boasts modern technical workshops as well as extensive sports facilities. Today, the John Orr Engineering School of Specialisation is known for its exceptional academic record, offering a wide range of courses preparing students for university, Technikon diplomas, or direct entry into skilled employment.

At John Orr, we nurture each student's personal development, encouraging them to reach their full potential in a supportive and dynamic environment.

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