History of the OBA

Towards the end of the 19th Century, suggestions were made that a dedicated alumni organisation should be formed for BGS. Two former students are credited as being the original instigators:

  • Dr. Arthur Hopewell-Smith.
  • Harry Whilton Palmer – the winner of the Parry Gold Medal in 1885.

They met socially in late 1899 and the idea of a club was conceived.

The OBA was officially founded as the ‘Old Bostonian Club’ on 20th April 1900. On that date, 18 former pupils met at Anderton’s Hotel, Fleet Street, London to form the new organisation. Two alternative titles were considered but they received fewer votes in a ballot: “Boston School Old Boys’ Club” and “Boston Old Boys Club”. There were originally two branches, each of which had its own secretary: one in Boston and one in London. The membership fee was set at 5 shillings per annum.

The first OBA President was William White, BGS Headmaster from 1887 to 1912. The first OBA dinner took place on 2nd August 1900, in the Guildhall, on the evening of Speech Day (now called Prize-Giving).

Club activities were mostly halted by the onset of World War I in 1914. A revival meeting was held on 15th December 1921, and the club resumed, although without a London branch.

From the 1920s onwards, the organisation was referred to more frequently as the ‘Old Bostonian Association’ rather than the ‘Old Bostonian Club’. There is however no record of a formal decision to change the name.

In 2000 the OBA celebrated its centenary.


The first edition of the “Gazette of the Old Bostonian Club” was published in 1901. The introduction, written by former pupil Professor Arthur James Grant, concluded with the following lines:

“All of my comrades of the school-room and the playing field and all those of the generations before and after mine will join me, I know, in crying not only ‘Floreat Bostona’ but also ‘success and a long life to the Old Boys’ Club’.”

The current OBA magazine, The Old Bostonian, is published annually – usually around Christmas or New Year.

To date the OBA has published two books about the history of BGS:

Association tie and colours

The OBA has its own tie, which can be worn by members at the annual dinner and at other school events such as Prize GivingCharter Day and the remembrance service. First introduced in 1929, the colours are blue, amber and black.