1912: the First Old Boys' Dinner

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John Saunders
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1912: the First Old Boys' Dinner

Postby John Saunders » Tue Mar 07, 2017 6:03 pm

The first Old Wycombiensians' Dinner was held at the Red Lion Hotel in High Wycombe on 17 February 1912. Here is a full report by an anonymous reporter of the South Bucks Standard.

Anonymous reporter, South Bucks Standard, Thursday 22 February 1912 wrote:OLD WYCOMBIENSIANS. INTERESTING CLUB DINNER. BY AN OLD BOY.
The first dinner in connection with the Old Wycombiensians Club (a fraternity of past pupils of the Wycombe Royal Grammar School) was held on Saturday evening last, and I was pleased to be numbered amongst those present — proud, as I am to be an "old boy” of Wycombe's famous educational establishment.

There was a goodly company present, and the list of guests, I find, included the following: Alderman Wood, Mr. T. Thurlow, and Mr. C.E. Skull (Governors), Alderman Vernon (the Agent), Mr. G. W. Arnison (Head Master), Messrs. W. J. Bartle, R. B. Threlfall, F. Norton Fagg, H. G. Brand, R. Matthews, and E. G. Griffiths (Masters), Messrs. S. R. Vernon, J. W. Jones, J. R. Yeoman, B. C. Hooper, N. D. Richardson, L. R. Nash, A. J. Dexter, R. Bass, F. Rutty, A. W. Cubbage, J. R. D. Bushell. C. R. Watkins, J. Shaw Wilson, R. J. Greenwood, W. J. Butler, C. L. Rutty, D. L. Gates, A. J. Bliss, P. A. Hill, O. Lear, C. W. K. Neale. H. Stone, V. Stone, J. Birch, H. G. Butler, C. Stevens, E. Montague, W. H. Hulls, R. W. Bartlett, P. J. Birch, H. J. Carr, J. C. Flint, A. Flint, F. W. George, E. W. Gillett, R, A. Pearce, S. C. Pearce, C. G. Stratton, M. Steele. C. Kibbels, J. T. Cox, F. Collins, G. T. Miles, C. A. Lintell, G. L. North, F. R. Priest, G. A. Priest, J. M. Sherriff, A. E. Thompson, R. C. Rose, J. C. S. Nutt, P. C. Skull, E. Wingrove, and others.

I must not forget to say that thanks are largely due to the Hon. Secretary of the Club (Mr. Threlfall) for getting together such a good muster.

For some time before the event, a great deal of canvassing had been carried on, and everybody I met seemed to carry with them a budget containing the names of past students of the School, who were likely to be persuaded to attend the important function — not that they wanted much persuading. Someone or other was successful in selling me a ticket, and accordingly at 7 p.m. on Saturday,


at the Red Lion Hotel, full of expectation as to what was really going to happen. On entering the Wellington Room I met a number of persons (nearly 70) evidently on the most friendly terms with one another, and with me, as was proved a few moments afterwards. My first impression was that everyone knew me, for it seemed that everyone wanted to shake hands. And yet there were faces there that I did not recognise. A stranger would grasp my hand with “ Hello, ___!” and on observing my look of astonishment, would continue, “Why, don’t you remember ____?” Immediately my thoughts would turn to those by-gone days when there was the keenest rivalry between us both, at School and on the playing field. And now ____; I didn't recognise him. Such are the ways of life.

After the Chairman had taken his place at the table, we began the most important part of the programme — not that I want to decry the brilliant oratory that followed—namely, the dinner.


But the dinner, plus reminiscences made it seem magnificent. The excellent catering of Mr. and Mrs. Adams was remarked upon by everyone, and by the time we had finished, all felt on even more friendly terms than at first.

This was our menu: Clear soup; cod cutlets, anchovy sauce; roast beef, roast lamb, potatoes, Brussels sprouts; apple tart and custard, fruit jellies; dessert; coffee; to say nothing of the et ceteras. And didn’t we enjoy ourselves! "Not ’arf!" as the vulgar street boy would say.

After dinner, at a signal from the Chairman, Mr. Arnison, all were silent — for we were enjoying ourselves — and the first toast of the evening, "The King" was proposed by the Chairman, and was drunk with that heartiness which is characteristic of the true Briton. Then came a song from Mr. P. C. Skull; next the toast,


ably proposed by Mr. Alderman Vernon and dittoed by Mr. Alderman Wood; and Mr. T. Thurlow responded.

The next item on the programme was a song by Mr. B. C. Hooper, the popular secretary of Wycombe Wanderers F.C. The final toasts were "The School and Staff," proposed by Mr. P. C. Skull, and responded to on behalf of the school, by Mr. G. W. Amison and Mr. W. J. Bartle; and "The Old Boys’ Club," proposed by Mr. A. J. Bliss, and responded to by Mr. G. T. Miles and Mr. R. B. Threlfall.

Between the toasts, and towards the close of the proceedings, songs were sung by Messrs. B. O. Weller, Alderman Wood, H. Butler, B. North, A. W. Cubbage, D. L. Gates, and recitations given by Messrs. W. H. Hulls and O. Lear, also “reminiscences of days that are past" by Messrs. C. Stevens and E. Wingrove. Before the enjoyable proceedings were brought to a close, the whole of the company present linked hands and sang “Auld Lang Syne."

Whilst talking over the event with those who were present, the uniformity of opinion was remarkable. It was felt on all sides that the links which bind the Old Boys to the School had been tremendously tightened, but the work was not yet finished. When dealing with such an ancient foundation as the Royal Grammar School, it should not be too much to say that the Old Boys’ Club should be of such a size as to seriously rival some of the clubs existing to-day at the great public schools of the country. The Club has now been firmly established, the Old Boys' Dinner has become an annual affair, the Club boasts an enthusiastic Committee — may it have its reward during the coming year, for it deserves success.

To sum everything up, the Old Boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as I can testify, for I am


Note that I have made a few small textual emendations (e.g. to names and initials of masters) where I am aware of errors but there may still be some errors remaining. Indeed, I may have introduced some of my own in carrying out the necessary optical character conversion process.
John Saunders
RGS 1963-70 (personal website http://www.saund.co.uk)