Welcome to the Website of The Clove Club.

The Clove Club is the organisation for anyone who attended Hackney Downs School (formerly The Grocers’ Company’s School), Downs Park Road, London,E.5.

The School closed at the end of 1995 but The Clove Club, the Old Boys Association, flourishes with just over 700 members on the books.

Membership of the Club is open to anyone, former pupil or former member of the staff, and its principal aim is to seek to promote and prolong the friendships formed at School and to make it possible, in later life, to meet again those with whom you will have shared some of your most important and formative years.

We strive to serve the interests of members in a number of different ways. We recognise that some may wish to take an “active” part by attending reunions, writing articles for newsletters and so on. Others may shy away from physical attendance at reunions but may gain pleasure simply by reading newsletters evoking memories of friends, teachers.

There is a flourishing e-mail group (open to all and which may be joined using the link on our home page). Posting a request for information, or reminiscing about a particular event can bring contact with others who share the same memory or who can help in answering the request.

To register simply for information from the Club itself, but without advertising your address on this site or through the e-group, you can register direct with the Secretary and the information will remain private for Club use only.

I hope you will enjoy the content of our website and, if you are not already a member, that you will consider joining us. All the details are on the site, the subscription is only £10 per annum and an application form is on the page labelled “Join the Clove Club” (and this includes a downloadable banker’s order form if you wish).

The site carries a few photographs, a sound file of two former teachers and other memory-provoking material. You are welcome to make an enquiry of the Club, without commitment, and if we can help we will.

I hope we will hear from you.

Best wishes,

G.L. “Willie” Watkins, 1953-1960, Lucas’ House,

Hon. President and Secretary

Recent Clove Club News

March 2017 The Clove Lines – Click and then enter password


(founded in 1884)

The Clove Club is the Association for Old Boys (and former members of staff) of Hackney Downs School (formerly The Grocers’ Company’s School) which existed on the corner of Hackney Downs, in Downs Park Road, London E.5. , from 1876 until its closure in 1995.

The School was founded by the City Livery Company, The Worshipful Company of Grocers in 1876 and was the only educational institution to be founded by the Company in its corporate role.

In 1884, the second Headmaster, the Reverend C.G.Gull, M.A., initiated the series of discussions and meetings which led, in 1884, to the foundation of The Clove Club. The Club’s name is taken from the Cloves, nine of which appear on the Company’s Coat of Arms, which were among the spices imported by the Company. Another significant feature of the Coat of Arms was the Camel, the prime transport animal on the spice trains of the 14th Century, which became the School Badge. These two features, variously combined with others, were used by the School for its badges, trophies and documents throughout its life and continue to be so used by the Club with the permission of the Company. The Camel, referred to by the boys as ‘Humphrey’, was held in particularly high esteem by the pupils and was their especial mascot at inter-School sporting contests.

The Club was one of the first organisations of its kind, if not the very first. In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries the Club had an orchestra which played in the West End. Over the years the Club has been honoured to count among its members many who have found fame in the Theatre, Science, Medicine and Sport but its main purpose then, as now, is to foster and prolong the friendships formed during the years of attendance at School.

There was a pause in the Club’s activities during the latter years of the Twentieth Century when it, like other similar organisations, became regarded as passé. In early 1995 a reunion of some 80 former pupils was gathered to celebrate the 80th Birthday of a much-loved former P.E.Teacher, Mr. Leslie Mitchell, and a chance remark led to the revival of the Club. Today there are nearly 1200 members, mostly in the United Kingdom but with significant numbers present in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. There are also members in France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Mexico and Brazil. Our youngest members were at the School when it closed in 1995.

Hackney Downs School provided the educational background to numerous successful people including Nobel Prize Winner Harold Pinter.