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History of the Society

 

History of the Society

A Potted History Of The Society by Paul Simpson

The first meeting of The Society was on March 1st 1899, when 21 Old Boys were present. There had been a previous attempt in 1891, but the “Old Laurentini Club” had faded away within two years. The new Society bloomed rapidly, and by the Christmas Dinner of 1899, the membership had reached 100.

The aims of the Society were to encourage links with the School (then known as the Lower School of Rugby School), by awarding prizes for schoolwork and sport, and to form Cricket and Soccer clubs for the Old Boys. The Headmaster kindly offered the use of the School’s facilities for meetings – “provided that there are only temperance drinks”. This is not so today!

In 1901, the OLs established the “Griffin” magazine, which after 1908 became a shared venture with the School. In 1928 the editor noted …. “the spelling and punctuation of contributors – of all ages – is as reprehensible as it well can be”. The situation is bound to have improved by now!

During the early years of the century, the annual re-union was held over the Whit Weekend, so that the OLs could take part in the School Sports Day, held on the Saturday, along with a Cricket match on the Monday; a tradition which carried on until the 1920’s.

Soccer was the school game from 1890 to 1922 when the Headmaster, Cordy Wheeler, put it to a school vote which came down in favour of Rugger. The OLs had already formed their own RFC in 1919, playing at various venues, and at the Hart Field from 1922.

In 1931, with the encouragement of the Headmaster, prominent OLs petitioned the Governors to change the name of the School. Thus was born “The Lawrence Sheriff School”, though it is fair to point out that the 16th Century grocer who had first coughed up to educate the children of Rugby and Brownsover, used the name Lawrance Sheriffe. Another potential Griffin contributor, obviously!

In 1939 the Society purchased its own base in Bilton, through the good offices of Lol Fenley (School: 1912-16), and the ground was promptly ploughed up for the War Effort! A Nissen hut was erected after the war, and a new clubhouse in the early ’60s – since extended greatly.

OLs have always played an important part in the life of the town of Rugby, including in the ’50s mounting very successful amateur dramatic productions which were part of the momentum that led to the establishment of Rugby Theatre. They continued forging links with the School, raising money for travel awards, equipment, and projects such as the late lamented caravan at Bala.

The Rugby section has continued to grow and prosper, becoming an “open” club in the ’60s, and through a Colts XV has introduced many 5th and 6th Formers to the concepts of moderation and social responsibility – which is nice!

The former members of the School have always tended to scatter to the four corners of the country, and of the World, and the Society continues to act as a conduit for news of fellow OLs, and to support the growth and evolution of the School.

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