About the Old Pauline Club
The Old Pauline Club is an association and its rules provide for it to "keep up the association of Paulines, to provide amenities and facilities for them and generally further the interest of St Paul's School and its past and present members in the United Kingdom and abroad".
For much of its life, this meant concentrating on associations between Old Paulines and providing facilities at its ground in Thames Ditton, however, with greater technology, fewer volunteers and a School looking to build stronger links with its alumni, the Club now concentrates more on acting as a conduit for information than it does as an old fashioned Old Boys Club.
It emails more than 4,000 Old Paulines monthly with news and stories relating to the Club and the School. It provides careers support for boys at the School through its Business Network, support of the School's Careers Day and its annual Parent/OP dinners focusing on different work sectors.
Its social activities range from the Annual Dinner held at the School, to a comedy evening for younger OPs, or the biennal Earliest Vintage Lunch reunion of those who left more than 50 years ago.
The Club still has vibrant rugby, cricket, football, fives, tennis and golf clubs. At the top level the teams are highly competitive but for most it is a further opportunity for recreation and staying friends with fellow OPs.
The freehold of the ground owned by the Club at Thames Ditton still remains its most valuable asset – over 15 acres of fine rugby, soccer and cricket pitches in the Surrey countryside. It is maintained through leases granted by the Club to Colets Health Club. Colets has grown from a squash club established in the early 1970s by a small group of self motivated OPs to a multi-million pound turnover health club with over 4,000 members. It is managed by OPs and its directors are all OPs but it is a members' club that is open to all.
The Old Pauline Club is run by a professional office, overseen by a President, Hon. Secretary, Hon Treasurer and a number of committees made up of around 100 active volunteers.
Early Days of the Old Pauline Club
An extract from The Pauline magazine, reporting Frank Safford's speech to the OPC Golden Anniversary Dinner in 1922.
In November, 1871, a few old Paulines, who had but recently attained that dignity, gathered together in a small top room of the Cathedral Hotel in St. Paul's Churchyard, at the instance of W.H. White, to consider the possibility of starting an Old Pauline Football Club. Besides White, A.G. Pollock, H.M. Powell, C.H. Pearson and F. Safford were there. One of them, impressed by the fact that a friend, especially an old school friend, is one of the best things in life, argued that opportunities for meeting together other than in the football season ought to be considered and that, in time, one was likely to become too old for football or rowing and only fit to dine. His eloquence was shortly concluded by being told to see to it, and see to it I did.
With (the High Master) Dr. Kynaston's consent and the Mercers'(Governors') permission a meeting was held at the School. The Bishop of Llandaff was elected president, a committee was appointed, and I was named as captain and secretary, with Townsend as treasurer. A ground was obtained in Battersea Park, and on December 16, 1871, the first match was played. Fixtures with leading clubs rapidly followed. Such was the inception of the Old Pauline Football Club.
In the spring of 1872, with the permission of Dr. Kynaston, a meeting of Old Paulines was called at the School with the Bishop of Llandaff in the chair in order that, if possible, the Old Pauline Football Club might be extended into an Old Pauline Club, with rowing and football sections.
I prepared some draft rules which were submitted to the meeting and, after a long sitting at which the Bishop worked very late at settling the rules, despite the repeated reminders of Dr. Kynaston who disliked being kept waiting for his dinner, the Old Pauline Club may be said to have been founded. The Bishop of LIandaff was, of course, its first President; Sir James (afterwards Lord) Hannen Vice-President; Townsend Auditor; and I Honorary Secretary and Treasurer.
One object of the Club was to promote the general interest of the School, and it was not long before occasion arose. The struggle that we made to have St. Paul's numbered among the Public Schools is now ancient history. Unfortunately we were not assisted by the governing body and it was unsuccessful. The School consequently came within the Endowed Schools Act, and control ultimately passed to the Charity Commissioners.
These Commissioners, in January 1875, fired a bombshell in the shape of a scheme proposing to substitute for the existing establishment three distinct schools - a classical, a modern and a girls' school - and to divide the 153 foundation scholarships among them. It was then that the Old Pauline Club operated with success. A meeting was held on February 2nd under the chairmanship of Sir James Hannen, and a resolution of protest was passed, and I cannot emphasize too strongly the gratitude which the School owes to him, Sir Charles Pollock, Mr. Shelly Eddis, Q.C., Sir Harry Poland, and to many other Old Paulines who assisted in thwarting that plan.
The first Captain and Hon. Secretary of the OPFC
& the first Hon. Secretary & Treasurer of the OPC