La Salle Drive was once a tricky dog-leg par four on the original Westown golf course.
The golf course opened with twelve holes in April 1935. However, by the 1950s, although the course now boasted eighteen holes, increased membership meant the club needed to expand. In 1957 the club purchased its current site on Mangorei Road and the land at Tukapa Street was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Wellington, for the building of a school.
Construction of Francis Douglas Memorial College began in November 1957 and the school opened its doors to the first pupils on 9 February 1959.
La Salle Drive backs onto the school playing fields and is named after the founder of the Christian order that administers the school.
Jean-Baptiste de La Salle was born in Reims, France on 30 April 1651, into a wealthy family, at a time when few people lived in luxury. Inspired by the plight of the poor he embarked on theological studies and was ordained a priest in 1678.
Education was to become his life's work. After helping a teacher run a charity school for the poor, he established a community that became known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Contrary to the wishes of the educational establishment - and at great personal cost - he insisted on providing education to all, regardless of their ability to pay.
De La Salle and his Brothers succeeded in establishing a network of schools throughout France and eventually across the globe. There are now De La Salle schools in over eighty countries, including of course one here in New Plymouth.
Jean-Baptiste de La Salle was declared a saint in 1900, and fittingly, was named patron saint of all Christian teachers by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.