The Old Camdenians
The Old Camdenians Club has been in existence almost as long as the school itself, since 1909, and except for the periods of the First and Second World Wars, its activities have been continuous and broad in scope.
Membership of the Old Camdenians Club is automatic for all former students of the school and to members of the school staff, past and present.
The Football Club became a founder-member of the Boys League in 1919, the Cricket Club came into being in 1930 and a Dramatic Society in 1932. Other activities, such as the Badminton Club, have from time to time been enjoyed, and more can be organised at any time according to the wishes of the members.
The annual lunch or dinner is a long-standing feature of the club, where school friends can once again enjoy each other’s company, along with school staff and school leavers.
The most ambitious scheme ever attempted by the Club was the purchase of a 30-year lease in 1970 and the development of a fine sports ground and clubhouse at Burtonhole Lane, Mill Hill, where the Cricket Club still play.
A magazine called The Phoenix gave details of the Club’s programme and news of the school and its former students. It was issued free to members as well as The Camdenian, the school’s own annual publication. Since the mid 1980s a newsletter has replaced these publications and been sent to all members. A website detailing the activities of the club was created in 2006 and all activities and information are posted there.
The Club operated a semi-official hiring policy, offering job opportunities for school leavers which Old Camdenians employed. Many were employed by the Metropolitan Water Board and it was often stated that the Old Camdenians controlled London’s water.
Teachers were encouraged to recommend help for pupils where they felt it was needed. Money was given to pupils who perhaps might not otherwise have gone to university.
The Club financed the reading room in the Old Building where pupils could go in their lunch breaks to study and read. It also housed the plaque recording all the Old Camdenians who died in the First and Second World Wars.
When Frederick Hurlestone-Jones, the famous ex-headmaster, and Bill Seitz, a teacher and an Old Camdenian, died, there were appeals made and the Club used these to fund such things as library books. Funds still exists today from these appeals and these are used to help the school.
There was a Cambridge section of the Club comprising all those who went on to Cambridge University, and through the Club there was a flat in Cambridge which was passed down to succeeding students from the school.
The Club worked closely with the Parent Teachers’ Association, raising funds and collaborating with them in running events at the school. There were book fairs, clothing exchanges, and on one occasion the Club put on a variety show with pupils forming pop groups, as well as parents performing and the school orchestra. The Club worked with school staff to organise school dances, with girls from Camden School invited to join us. These school dances raised money and furthered pupils’ education.
Over the years many OCs have returned to give talks on specific subjects to pupils, such as careers in law accountancy, filmmaking, etc. Some have undertaken mentoring of pupils interested in pursuing those interests.
Several Old Camdenians have become governors of the school, and many others have returned as teachers.
When the school sought Sports College status an appeal was launched and £7,000 was donated by Club members. The result was the creation of the Sports Lab and Gym which is still in situ today and carries a plaque that thanks the Old Camdenians. Indeed, Sports College status was achieved and it was mentioned in the award that the appeal had attracted so many spread all across the country and internationally.
When school budgets were tight, Old Camdenians such as Peter Andes equipped the Old School with stainless steel urinals, and a building company, run by the three Fitzpatrick brothers, all Old Camdenians, renovated the Old Hall, which was quite derelict. This refurbishment was largely funded from the legacy left by Bill Seitz’s wife in his memory. It is the reason why the hall was renamed the Seitz Camdenian Hall.
The Club has arranged, and funded, receptions for Staff and VIP’s at several School prize giving events, and ‘Dining In’ occasions for new Headmasters introducing them to their role as Club President.
The club donated two cricket nets, football shirts and other sport-related items to the school and via the George Ives 50+ Club generated funds donated in the past five years or so of about £1,500 towards the expenses of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards for students to participate.
Also, bursaries of £50 have been presented to selected ex-students towards the expenses of their further education.
At the inauguration of Beacon High, in 2019, the Club presented a cheque for £1500 towards the costs associated with the School choir which sang at the World Cricket Cup Final at Lords.
During the Covid lockdown an Old Camdenians Chromebook Fund was created to help the school purchase these computers for the students of families who couldn’t afford them. More than £4,300 was given to sponsor 35 students in this way.
With the newly established Bill & Nora Wraight Old Camdenians Memorial Fund, the Club is now in a position to grant bursaries to former students wishing to further their education. Two have been granted of £1,000 in the first year with a further £500 in each of the subsequent two years. These bursaries are available to selected students, and are not only for academic studies but also technical schemes such as apprenticeships.
The Headteacher is President of the Club and its officers and committee are elected at an Annual General Meeting which is usually held prior to an annual reunion lunch or dinner.